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Which gamer is best? Vote and explain.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Versatile, Jan 9, 2012.


Which Giants-Falcons game story linked below is best?

  1. Ralph Vacchiano, Daily News

    2 vote(s)
  2. Mike Garafolo, The Star-Ledger

    7 vote(s)
  3. D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    2 vote(s)
  4. Mark Maske, The Washington Post

    3 vote(s)
  5. Tom Pedulla, USA Today

    1 vote(s)
  6. Barry Wilner, The Associated Press

    4 vote(s)
  1. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Alma gave me this idea as a means to get us talking more about writing craftsmanship. I've pulled six game stories about the New York Giants' 24-2 first-round playoff win against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

    The options:

    These are quick reads. I chose to avoid columns on the basis that I wanted to keep this about the craft of writing. I felt columns would turn this into a football debate, which is explicitly not the point. Who had the most creative take? Who had the best lede? Who did the best job getting into the meat of the game? Did anyone go too far into analysis for you? Did anyone approach it too straightforwardly? Who had the best kicker? Who used quotes best? Did anyone miss a key fact or moment?

    Please be mindful that none of these writers asked to be critiqued. That's not to say you should sugarcoat your response, just that if you didn't like something, you don't need to rip it apart. I think it's fair to say we should focus on what we liked above all else.
  2. JPsT

    JPsT Member

    Great idea. I don't have a ton of input, but I'll throw some thoughts out there. I'm excited to hear other people's opinions as well.

    First I'll say, I don't think there's a bad story in the bunch.

    I really enjoyed Mike Garafolo's piece. I thought he did a nice job of weaving a theme (the motto of belief) throughout the entire thing. I thought, though, the AP recap had a nice lede, looking at the big picture while still telling about the game.

    I found Ledbetter's story for the AJC a bit dry. I see where he was coming from, and obviously it's tough to write as exciting of a story when you're writing that a team's season was over, but I felt it was lacking any sort of pop.

    I was a bit surprised people didn't discuss the safety at the start a bit more.
  3. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    I quickly read the first 4-5 graphs of each and like the Washington Post and AP stories the best. A few had too much cliche worked in.

    After watching the game, it was pretty obvious that there were three main reasons why the Giants won. Getting all three into the first 5-6 inches, to me, is important.
  4. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    One thing I dislike. Two refer to Tom Coughlin without noting who he is, and every one of the selected articles call Coughlin and Mike Smith "coach." This irritates the hell out of me. He's the "head" coach; otherwise, "coach" relegates him to the same status as any of the other 25 coaches an NFL team employs, and that's not the case. The head coach is the guy in charge and that's why he's being quoted in the first place.
  5. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    AP style is to use coach.
  6. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I initially was going to break it down writer-by-writer but figured it'd be better to draw comparisons more clearly.

    My favorite lede came from Pedulla, who spins ahead to next weekend's matchup while emphasizing the Giants' dominance. He also played off a quote well. Garafolo's lede immediately seemed corny to me, but it jived well with the rest of his story. I don't like the phrase "supposed to," particularly in a lede, but I thought Vacchiano had a good approach if imperfect execution.

    Maske used more play-by-play per inch than I would have expected. His story read the most straightforward of them all, and I didn't like the way it ended. Garafolo used a ton of quotes and bounced his transitions off them. It made for a breezy read with a lot of the team's voice, which is good, but some of his transitions were tacky. Vacchiano had the best nut graf, by far. But I think he could use a tighter edit on certain aspects. Wilner's transitions, on the other hand, were very smooth. But he's an AP writers, so his story was ridiculously long. I was bothered by "an Super Bowl" high up in Pedulla's story, which otherwise read very smoothly. Ledbetter clearly wanted his piece to serve as a team obit, which I thought was a good idea, but I think he saved the game details for the end then hurried them on us.

    Use of quotes:
    Full disclosure: I hate bad quotes and would rather no quotes than bad quotes. Maske's quotes seemed rushed. They were short, choppy and didn't add a lot. Vacchiano relied heavily on the Giants' defensive line for quotes, only quoting coach Tom Coughlin and safety Antrel Rolle otherwise. I loved Pedulla's kicker quote, the best in any story. And Ledbetter barely uses quotes at all, to the point where his piece suffered because of it.

    Garafolo best set up his piece with a solid angle about the game. Ledbetter approached it with the idea that the Falcons are not actually among the NFL's elite and did a decent job creating a supporting argument. Wilner had the best line of the six: "The team that couldn't run the ball will be sprinting there, bringing along a defense the Packers actually might fear."

    Full disclosure: I think modern game stories should lean heavily on analysis and observation. We're paid to tell the story of the game, not the story of the press conference. Maske was lightest in this regard. I liked how Pedulla broke it down by plays. Wilner spent more time praising Eli Manning than the others, which I found interesting as Garafolo and Vacchiano focused on the defense. Both of the Giants beat writers offered good, not great, explanations of what was different today. Ledbetter used the most analytical license and did a good job breaking down what the Falcons were lacking, but he focused mostly on big-picture.

    Maske's story was written heavily in the inverted-pyramid style, which meant that you could read five paragraphs and get a very strong picture of what happened in the game. He and Wilner, who obviously gets the most space to write his story, offered the most complete game stories. Vacchiano didn't mention Aaron Ross' concussion, and Garafolo didn't mention the "Dirty Bird" dance mockery. I felt those were key pieces of information for Giants fans. Ledbetter mentioned the "Dirty Bird" celebration early, which I liked and fit what his readers wanted. Pedulla writes for USA Today, which inherently means he's glazing over many details in his game story.

    My pick went to Pedulla on this one. I thought he hit the nail on the head with his focus on the defense, and I thought he executed it better than Vacchiano and Garafolo. I also felt his story featured the best quotes from the game. And I liked how he used only the necessary amount of play-by-play to get the point across.
  7. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Along with the point Stitch noted, I want to add that any time an assistant coach is mentioned by just about any football writer, his title is clearly stated. And the two writers who did not identify Coughlin are New York-area newspapers, though I agree that he should have been identified ... as "coach."
  8. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    OK. I have always noted that difference, but I guess that's just me.
  9. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    See, I like focusing on what just happened rather than spinning ahead to next week. We have the rest of the week to discuss Green Bay, this is the last chance to really talk about the Atlanta game.

    That is just my opinion.
  10. dirtybird

    dirtybird Well-Known Member

    Garafolo's kicker quote felt like sort of a letdown to me. I understand coming back to the theme, but that quote felt very dull, at least in my reading.

    I think I preferred Vacchiano. Somehow ending on the double quotes works for me, and the flow felt better.
  11. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Versatile, I'm sure it took a good bit of time to set this up, and I think doing something like this is a very good idea so long as it does go off the rails by attacking stories rather than building noting what is good.

  12. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Yeah, sorry, trifectarich (edit!), count me among the "irritate the hell out of you" guys.

    My take (and yeah, AP) is only use head coach when you need it to differentiate for clarity. So if you were writing "head coach," I'd irritate you even more by taking it out.
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