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Weekly content

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by sethcohen, Oct 21, 2007.

  1. sethcohen

    sethcohen New Member

    I recently took over as the sports editor at a Weekly newspaper that in the past has run nothing but game recaps of high school sporting events. I want to get away from that, but I'm not sure exactly what kind of content I should be running in the section in its place. Can anyone more familiar with Weekly newspapers give me advice on that front? Thanks.
  2. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Not trying to be smug, but it's easy: What your readers want, sprinkled in with what will help you to survive.

    A column every other week (not every week, per se, so you don't end up pigeon-holed) with a local hook might be a good start.
  3. Mayfly

    Mayfly Active Member

    Try to featurize your gamers a little bit since they already know what happened in the game if they get a larger daily newspaper. Try to run columns with a local angle like wicked said. See if you can't do a feature or profile each week on a local athlete who had a big game the previous week.
  4. BigSleeper

    BigSleeper Active Member

    Good tips so far.

    I've offered this advice before for weeklies: If you're establishment has a web site, don't act like a weekly. The Web is a great equalizer in reporting. Daily updates (which would include longer gamers) can help establish you and your publication as a go-to source for readers.

    If you go that route, the print product should have shorter gamers (I'm talking one- or two-paragraph capsules), more columns, more features/enterprise and promos to the Web site. You might get some whining from those in the community who believe newspapers should be practicing scrapbook sports journalism, but the majority would appreciate the fact that you are actually doing more in conjunction with the Web site.
  5. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Spent 4 years at a weekly before the recent move back to the daily life: My advice is, anything and everything and lots of it, with lots of photos, creativity, gamers galore, and really, just whatever you want. I put out about 210 sports sections in 4 years and not two of them were the same in any way, shape or form. You've got to be willing to put in extra hours knowing you won't get paid but still put them in for the love of the game and the pride of the product.

    Make adventures for yourself. One night 3 winters ago 5 girls hoops teams played at home in the same day/night. The adventure? Get to each one and capture the moments you were there with words and photographs and make a huge package. The next year there were 6 games in a day/night, and I made it to all 6 and wrote the same type of adventure incorporating just so much "stuff" not only gamer stuff, but "the scene" and what it was like to traverse from site to site, hockey rink to hoops court to ski-jumping back to hockey rinks.

    Pay attention to your area. One night I got home around 1 a.m. to find a massive fire burning down part of the block I lived on (including the strip club; sigh). One of the firefighters for this 5-alarm was a 17-year-old senior at the local high school, who started on the football team and whose dream it was to become a fireman. Had my camera and walked up within 5 feet of him and snapped him and a partner working the hose. Day later I called him up and talked about the experience, then went to practice and talked to his teammates and coaches and did up a breaking news/feature on the kid, who's just a great kid.

    Don't get caught in the varsity-only rut. Wake up on a Saturday and cover an 11 a.m. freshman field hockey game (or whatever sport you choose) and watch tomorrow's stars today. Try to get a glimpse of the kids and how they play, and focus on how refs call sub-varsity sports differently, and maybe try to project how varsity teams will be 2-3 years down the line with these high school newbies learning the ropes today. Go watch rec league hoops games, or women's league hoops games (you'd be surprised how good some 40-year-old women are hoopin' it up).

    Always take photos. Everyone. Everything. You just never know when cool moments will pop up. My sports section was photo-heavy. Big big photos, some small ones of an off-the-beaten-path "moment" at a game of a fan in the stands or someone singing the national anthem (lots of times athletes in that game will sing it, then go out and then be the one to win the opening tipoff). Always run standings. Try to write stories about issues that relate to your coverage area or state.

    The last 4 years were probably my best 4 in the biz. Put my heart and soul into the section. Worked ungodly hours at the expense of a social life. But it was for the love of the game.

    Lots more I could write, but just make your section a reflection of yourself. If you only want to work 40 hours, that's what the section will look like. If you want to drown your readers in local sports, go nuts, my friend, and make people drool for the day your section comes out chock full o' goodness.
  6. TyWebb

    TyWebb Well-Known Member

    My first job was as the SE of a weekly and I have never learned so much so fast.

    My goal was to give readers at least one interesting, long feature a week that would generally be the centerpiece. It could even be a feature about a big game, breaking it down from several angles. Usually, it was a feature on a player or players because that is what the readers of small community weeklies want. They want to read about their kids, their neighbor's kids, their son/daughter's best friend, their son/daughter's teammate.

    My game summaries would usually be short but get as many kids names in there as possible because, again, that is what the readers want. If Jimmy Freshman ran for 5 yards, Mr. and Mrs. Freshman want to see it in their paper.

    Another thing I would try to do was work in a preview of an upcoming game. My weekly came out on Thursdays, so it was an easy pick to preview the big football game coming up. I would then add in capsules of the other games.

    And for god's sake, if you write a column, KEEP IT LOCAL. I've seen way too many weekly SEs write columns about national events. There is no point to this. There is plenty to write about in your area, especially once you get really in depth in the people that you cover. KEEP IT LOCAL! No one wants to read what the weekly SE has to say about the World Series.

    Read what Songbird wrote carefully. As the SE of a weekly, you have more flexiblity to make the section your own. Have fun with it!
  7. that was inspiring... seriously... this is the kind of paper I want to work for and be a part of (and try to be in my little world)... good stuff...
  8. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    Hey seth ... you're on the right track getting away from the gamers, and using the Web for that sort of routine stuff instead of print space is a really good idea.

    Part of how you approach it may depend on how big you are. If you're at a small weekly that only covers a couple of high schools, you can really get to know the coaches and the kids and use that to your advantage. Write about people, not about games. Really, that's what you should shoot for no matter where you are. But it's just a lot easier to get to know people if you're not stretched across a huge coverage area.

    If you're at a larger weekly -- a chain with multiple editions -- you still write about people as much as you can. You do profiles. And you try to look at the big picture. Look for trends, issues -- maybe stuff that's going on nationally -- and localize it. Do whatever you can that goes beyond simply writing about games. And when you do go to games, you featurize them. You lean more toward a Sports Illustrated piece than an AP writethru.

    The good thing is that since the paper has just done straight gamers before, you've got basically everything at your disposal. You don't have to worry about something that's "been done before." Be creative. That's probably the best advice there is.
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