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'Watch the $$%#% game'

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by DietCoke, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. DietCoke

    DietCoke Member

    Chris Jones' advice to young sports writers:


    I’ve watched sportswriters surf the Web, email, text, download music, listen to music, play games, watch movies, talk on the phone, talk to each other, make origami frogs and cranes, design and build a perpetual motion machine, sleep, doze, nap, catch forty winks, cut their fingernails, not cut their fingernails for years, and eat a whiffy homemade sandwich filled with what I’m pretty sure was cat food. Every now and then, you should remember that there’s a game going on, in front of you, and you need to be watching it

    Also some outstanding material on what made Buster Olney a great beat writer:

    That guy was born for the beat. ... He knew his stuff because he watched the game. Nobody watched the game like Buster. He kept a meticulous playbook, which he would carefully monitor for patterns, signs, and the smallest tells. He kept pitching charts. He looked for those little details that might form the heart of a great narrative three months down the road. He planned. He reported as though he were covering city hall.

    I love the advice about being "meticulous." I'm meticulous to a fault, but there is nothing but nothing like always being prepared and organized. Plus, it gives you an edge over about 95 percent of reporters, most of whom are in 24-a-day crisis mode.
  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    You cannot be meticulous to a fault. Being meticulous is a good thing.

    I first thought this was a tribute to spnited!! One of the things he'd say.
  3. DietCoke

    DietCoke Member

    Appropriately enough, the blog entry is dedicated to spnited.
  4. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Active Member

    Apparently, S-P rubbed off on Moddy. Or the other way around.

    Being meticulous separates the good ones from the great ones. Also known as "attention to detail" throughout Corporate America.
  5. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    He makes a good point, but I know some great beat writers who barely watch a second of the game.

    Of course there is a big difference between taking calls from agents and GMs and texting your girlfriend.
  6. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    One thing I wish Jones would have added:

    Don't go to the locker room to get "quotes." And don't stop a coach or player walking off the field to get a "quote."

    Go there to get information, much of it, if you write well, you will not even have to quote.
  7. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    This is a fantastic point. I think we lapse into the lazy language of just using the expression "get quotes," but the only reason to be talking to the players/coaches/agents/GMs/owners is "get information."

    Sometimes the information is great and the quote is crappy, if you know what I mean. Those are cases where the really good reporters know how to write the "so-and-so said," lines without quote marks.
  8. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I went to a college basketball game on Saturday afternoon and left the laptop in the trunk. (I was on sidebar duty and headed back to the office to write after it was over.) I got a lot more out of it without having the distraction of tweeting and blogging as things were rolling along.
  9. nate41

    nate41 Member

    I agree, the few times I've had to run a chat during a game, I've found it kind of distracting.

    In regards to quotes, read this in a piece about Sam Pompei, a former hockey writer in Springfield who recently passed.

    One of my favorite techniques is to ask the player who made a key play in the game to break it down. Sometimes I get nothing, but I've gotten a few good ones.

    The guy who got the winning goal in a shootout said how he altered his usual approach because he and the goalie played and practiced together for three years. And the girl who sank late free throws said she closed her eyes and pretended to be in the backyard with her dad shooting them as a kid.
  10. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    I used to take over a hockey beat at midseason. Found out the person in my seat was supposed to tell all the other writers what happened on the ice.
    Seriously, it seemed as though I was the only one watching the freaking game. I was the only one who knew who got the second assist before they announced it, the only one who knew which defenseman fucked up or which winger was late on the backcheck and hung his defenseman out to dry.
  11. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Why watch the game when the game story is obsolete?
  12. mediaguy

    mediaguy Well-Known Member

    Really enjoyed that list. Very funny, very true.
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