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Which March Madness game story is the best-written? Judge for yourself.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Alma, Mar 23, 2007.


Which of these five stories best tell the story of Memphis-Taxas A&M thriller?

  1. Brent Zwerneman, SA Express-News

    4 vote(s)
  2. Terrence Harris, Houston Chronicle

    1 vote(s)
  3. Jeff Caplan, FW Star-Telegram

    1 vote(s)
  4. Rachel Cohen, Dallas Morning News

    14 vote(s)
  5. Dan Wolken, Commercial-Appeal

    9 vote(s)
  1. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Here's the five stories, all a little different, some (IMO) clearly better than others. Consider the following:

    Lede. Nut graf. Opening quotes. Kicker. Application of facts, data, etc. The whole shebang.

    I'd appreciate a vote and some reasoning.





  2. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    I read 4 of the 5, at least through the middle of each story. One of them (Star Telegram) wouldn't open quickly so I quit out of it. I'll shy away from negative comments though there wouldn't be many of them. The Dallas News story read with a sense of urgency from the start, and it drew me into the middle of the story, which means I would've continued to the end. MySanAntonio.com (Zwernamen, sp?) was the best of what I read, mostly because I liked that he used some pregame seasoning to tie up his lede. All of them were workmanlike efforts, keeping in mind they all were on deadline.
  3. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    I voted for the Startle Gram story, which dove right into the critical moments. I didn't care for the chance encounter in the hallway lead by San Antonio, thought Houston almost completely ignored the endgame, liked the Dallas story a little more on second read and would have considered Memphis as the best until the second-to-last-graf (call me petty, but "And here's how it went down" doesn't strike me as major metro writing).

    Did EVERYONE use some form of "maroon-clad A&M fans"? That kind of bothered me too.

    But this is picayune in the grand scheme -- regardless the route they took, they all wrote strongly and cleanly on extreme deadline pressure, and they're way fucking better than me, so who in hell am I to cast judgment?
  4. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

  5. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    FWIW, I think "I'm not worthy" posts, while the heart's in the right place, probably doesn't make the person who doesn't think he/she is worthy a whole lot better.

    I think all of the stories (save one) are pretty good, too. But that's not the question. What makes the best, the best?
  6. MilanWall

    MilanWall Member

    I thought they all had a few problems. Mind you, I'm one of those young whippersnappers who thinks he knows everything already, but these were my issues with each story. That said, they still did a better job than I could probably do and I'm probably being more of a stickler than I should be.

    Dallas: Lede was weak and confusing to read. I liked mentioning Memphis’ usual efficiency in making offensive rebounds, and how it really had an outcome on the end of the game. I thought there should have been more mention of the flow of the game, even something as simple as “Neither team could manage more of a XX-point lead as the Tigers and Aggies battled, blah blah blah.”

    Chronicle: Overall I think this is the strongest story. I like the mention at the end of A&M’s turnaround. The mention of free-throw disparity was something I didn’t see in the other stories and to me, it was a pretty big stat.

    Commercial-Appeal: Also a good effort. I don’t usually like putting the score late in the story, but I thought the quote lede was strong. I thought the flow overall was stronger than the other stories. Minor AP style slip with “6-9” rather than “6-foot-9,” but that’s just being picky and for all I know the CA might have a different style.

    Star-Telegram: I don't like how they didn't tell the score until the sixth graf. And in that graf, the grammatical error "The second-seeded Tigers, dogged by its critics..." really put me off. A lot of the sentences, which were written in this style, were rather clunky to read, because of all the commas, and shifts in direction.

    MySA: Ew. No. No. No. “rough and rugged” contest? “hustle, zest, and zing?” This is not a poem. I don’t like the mention of “Joseph Jones stared into the stands in disbelief — despondently longing for one last possession.” Unless the writer has ESP, there’s no way he could have known this. Worst of the five, IMHO.
  7. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Again, good points. But it seems all of them were adjective-heavy at some point.

    The hardest thing I've had to do in the last 5 years is write descriptively without adjectives and adverbs.

    Reading the MySA again, it doesn't have the same luster. I agree with you, Milan, that the free-throw stats was well-placed in the Chron gamer.
  8. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    I'm one of the first ones here to decry big-timing by posters who think that coming here with a big beat and/or under their own name gives them moral high ground and that people beneath their station shouldn't deign to speak directly to them, much less criticize them. But I'm not as dumb as I look. I know that whatever I have to say on the topic shouldn't be taken but so seriously, since I've never worked a major college beat at a metro and -- at the moment -- am not even at a daily of even the smallest kind.

    Ergo, I preface or note afterwards my place to at least let people know that I'm not speaking from a position of empathy -- sort of like a JV assistant soccer coach second-guessing a Premeirship manager's moves.

    As for what makes the best, the best: It's a copout, but I defer to Potter Stewart's porn definition on this one. Sometimes the best story is draped in vivid imagery and painstaking description. Sometimes it's the one that best explains the impact of what happened, be it short-term or long-term. Sometimes it's getting everything important in there as cleanly and to-the-point as possible. And that's just comparing three hypothetical gamers. And a good enough writer/reporter can bang out the best 20 inches without even going in the right direction.

    In your comparison, you almost have to rely on gut instinct and undefiniable variables to pick a winner, and even then, it's like comparing a 99 paper to three 98 papers.
  9. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    I like your post, MM. I try not to bow down too much because, and I guess I'm a cocky sucker, I can cover one of those games and file on deadline. A lot of us here can.
  10. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    I thought Rachel Cohen's story was best of a strong group.
    The one story I didn't like was Terrance Harris's. I like to see game attendance in a game story and, unless I missed it, it wasn't in the gamer.
  11. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member


    I understand your POV, but I also think there's a way to be objective without saying "eh, what's the point. They're better anyhow." Not that you did that, exactly. I just think it'd be good to inject this "journalism only" stuff with more actual journalism, than scoop v. the world.
  12. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Who is Taxas A&M?
    (just had to be a wiseass)
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