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Writer's guide for stringers

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by sweetbreads bailey, Oct 1, 2007.

  1. The shop I work for (non-daily, where I'm pretty much the whole sports department), recently approved a stringer budget for me. Yippee! Much rejoicing as I don't have to cover six high schools all by myself for a change.

    I'd like to put together a 2-3 page sports writing/sports reporting guide for our freelance help since most of the guys helping me are just out of high school or college. For those of you who have had stringers to deal with for years, what's the best advice I can pass along them as far as questions to ask, stuff to focus on in their stories, etc.

    What comes to mind immediately is to get the teams who played and the final score into the story early, include first and last names of everyone you write about, talk to at least both head coaches after the game, don't cheer for any team or yell at the refs, don't just make the story a rehash of every play (like the one I just got from a guy last night), etc. What else?

    Sweetbreads says thanks mucho...

  2. This paragraph would apply to many of the current full-time sportswriters here.
    When I was sent out to cover my first game, the SE jotted down a story formula for me to follow.

    I wish I had saved it because I thought it was a great piece of starter advice.
    If I could - or can - remember it I'll edit this and post it.
    You might consider doing something similar for stringers so you don't get play-by-play gamers that start with a 0-0 score and Bumblefuck High's first possession.
  3. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    Ugh. Don't use any phrases you hear on sportscenter.

    Double-check all names.

    Don't be afraid to ask stupid questions.

    Use the inverted pyramid system -- most important things first.

    Don't hire FarmerJ, I hear she's mouthy.
  4. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    A quick diversion if possible.

    Congrats on the stringer budget. Did you lobby for it and how did you convince them? Or did they decide it was time to do something and you got a big surprise?
  5. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Is talking to both coaches reasonable in most areas? Where I string, the losing coach usually does a beeline for the bus or the locker room and I have time to get the winning team's coach and his players. Chasing down the other team would mean not making deadline for most games.
  6. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member

    Depends on your deadline situation. If possible, I try to grab the visiting team's coach before he splits, if only to get a few words from him. I don't necessarily use any quotes from him, but it's good to talk to him at least so he can tell you if something crazy happened, like half the starting defense was suspended from school and didn't play. Something you might not know if you don't cover the team regularly.
  7. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    No score before the final score. Final score within four or five grafs. Source before said, except in cases of "said West Bumblefuck coach Jack Mehoff," or when followed by a conjunctive.
  8. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    I advise my newbies to start with the basics: Determine the who, what, where, when, why and how of the story, then fill in with details (mostly 'how' details) around that.

    Make sure that you also advise them with the tone you're looking for. At a small paper your job description may include being rah-rah for Podunk High. Or there may be an unwritten rule that you shouldn't second-guess Coach Beesknees. Or you may cover local high schools with the objectivity you would show a Top 25 college program. Only you know your paper and your readers, and you have to convey that to a stringer.
  9. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    What she said. Also let them know how to find something positive to put in there if Podunk gets their heads handed to them. (example -Podunk's so-and-so was the game's leading tackler with 12...)
  10. TheMethod

    TheMethod Member

    If you're going to use "fuck" in your copy, fine. But be judicious about it.

    Seriously, I think Dan Jenkins said that every game had a turning point, and that you should identify it and pound it into the ground. This probably works better for college and pro sports, but it's something to think about.
  11. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I'd encourage newbies to ask coaches if there are any changes to the roster, significant injuries, etc., well before the game if possible. Always assume there is something wrong! Sometimes the roster in a prep football program is already outdated by Week 1, much less Week 8, but a newcomer won't know. If he/she politely says "I'm new to your team and want to know of if this is completely up-to-date", most coaches should be accommodating. That has saved my ass a lot when finding out some kid is #55 at home but #58 on the road or some other oddity.
  12. Dan Hickling

    Dan Hickling Member

    Make sure they know which are YOUR coverage schools....that way they gather and write from the angle you need...and if both schools are yours, focus on the winning team, but get a little something from the other side....
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