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Young journalist looking for feedback

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by MaxPetrunya, May 26, 2006.

  1. MaxPetrunya

    MaxPetrunya New Member

    My name is Max Petrunya (if you couldn't tell from my username) and I am currently a senior at Villanova Univeristy. I recently began writing for the school newspaper and I wanted to get some feedback from other journalists about my first sports column. It is slightly outdated, being an opinion piece on why I believe Lebron James should win this year's NBA MVP, but I was wondering if the posters would be able to provide me with feedback on the article overall, how it reads, if it makes sense, is it good? Anything you can provide would be great. Thanks for your time, and hope to hear back from you soon.

    The coronation of a king: James is the league MVP
    By: Max Petrunya
    Issue date: 4/21/06 Section: Sports

    As the NBA season draws to a close, the league is buzzing with talk of the post-season and who will be crowned this year's MVP. When Steve Nash was presented with the award last season, the decision was met with more criticism than the movie "Teen Wolf Two." That is something that I will never understand. Going from Michael J. Fox to Jason Bateman is one thing, but from Garnett to Nash is totally different. Nash is a player who not only makes himself look good, but also makes everyone he's playing with look like they are playing for the Harlem Globetrotters. He deserved the title last year, and he certainly is making a strong case for it this year given the success of the Phoenix Suns, locking up the No. 2 seed in the West despite playing nearly the entire season without Amare Stoudmire.

    My MVP nod this season however goes to Lebron James. First and foremost, King James is playing crazier than Darren Daulton. Prior to the snap of the Cavaliers' eight-game winning streak, Lebron put up 35 points or more in all eight games, going off for a triple-double in two of them. He has become one of only four players in NBA history to average 30 points, seven assists and six rebounds per game. The other three: Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Michael Jordan. That list of who's who in professional basketball history is as exclusive as the VIP Room at Studio 54. At the age of 21, the fact that Lebron's name is being mentioned in the same sentence as those legends of the game warrants some award, even if it is merely a Grammy (if Homer Simpson can write off the award and toss it off a balcony, Lebron can definitely win at least one). Certainly I could espouse many historic names from the National Basketball Association that we can and will compare Lebron to, but that is a piece that will have to wait 10 plus years when King James is ready to step down from his throne.

    Right now, Lebron is king in Cleveland. Typically, when a player is putting up numbers like Lebron has been, he tends to overshadow his teammates and become "bigger than the team" (cough, Kobe Bryant). The fact is that Lebron is putting up mind-boggling numbers and earning the moniker king, while also making his teammates look like princes, not court jesters. Mike Davis has finally harnessed the talent of King James, while getting him to share some of his power with other gentry, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Drew Gooden and Eric Snow in particular. Teamwork and defense, along with the leadership and unselfish play of Lebron James, have propelled the Cavs into the playoffs for the first time since 1998.

    The mere fact that Lebron is the primary factor for Cleveland returning to the playoffs isn't enough ammunition to argue that he should win the MVP. By that logic, Dwyane, Melo and the entire Detroit Pistons team could also win the award. The reason why James sticks out is because the Cavs have a shot of going deep into the playoffs this year. The only real challenge Cleveland faces are the aforementioned Pistons, which, as seen last year, are a team that is capable of being beaten, especially in the new seven-game all-the-way playoff series the NBA recently instituted. All bias aside, I have a good feeling for the Cavs in this year's playoffs.

    There isn't much more to say. The proof is there. Just like all kings, Lebron needs his crown. Critics were hesitant to give it to him in the past because he "couldn't come through in the clutch" or "he was too selfish and never passed." That has all changed now, and James has worked hard to prove all the naysayers wrong. It was easy to write Lebron off before because the Cavs were still considered the NBA's personal punching bag. Now, however, the new Cleveland Cavaliers, led by the new Lebron James, have started to punch back. If Lebron should happen to win the MVP title he so rightly deserves, the new jab that the Cavs have developed may very well turn into a knock-out blow.
  2. spaceman

    spaceman Active Member

    Release the hounds!  :)

    Seriously, this shows how difficult it can be to write about a topic without being there. You can't get reaction, or quotes, or color that paints a picture. So, what you're left with is your opinion.

    And everybody has one of those.

    On the plus side, at first blush, sentences seem to be constructed well, words spelled right (like I said, I haven't fine-toothed it, but there were no glaring errors that jumped out at me).

    A couple of decent gag lines.

    I'd like to see what you do with actual reportage as a base, rather than just sitting in front of your screen.
  3. sportsed

    sportsed Guest

    Go to the writers workshop and post it over there.
  4. sportsed

    sportsed Guest

    Except for the 14 instances of Lebron's (sic) name.

    On the constructive criticism front, I'd say that even though I'm a fan of multisentence paragraphs, break up your paragraphs more. You're not writing for Atlantic Monthly about possible war with Iran, you're writing about who you think should be MVP in a dopey sports league.

    Like the guy above me said, I'd like to see more of what you're capable of.
  5. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    Agreed, Spaceman, the No. 1 thing that young aspiring columnists don't get is that all good columns are based on good reporting. In fact, I'd say the best columnists do as much reporting as a full-time beat guy. It's one thing for me to watch a game on TV and say, yeah, I think Dirk should have been MVP. It's another for me to talk to coaches, scouts, opponents and find out what they think and why, what Dirk does better than anyone else and how he hides his shortcomings, etc., etc. This is especially true with issue-driven columns, like the ones we saw on Indiana and Kelvin Sampson today. To really make an educated statement on this, you have to know how the process worked, who made the decision and what it was based on ... just as much behind-the-scenes stuff as you can get your hands on. Back the opinion with facts, as much as you can gather.

    In short, don't just learn to write. Learn to report.
  6. Orange Hat Bobcat

    Orange Hat Bobcat Active Member

    And the fact that the Cavaliers have apparently hired a new coach. Who's Mike Davis? (You have to double- and triple-check even the simplest facts, man.)
  7. sportsed

    sportsed Guest

    Jesus, Orange Hat, can you imagine if Mike Davis was the coach of the Cavs? He'd have that "hands over his face, slumped over in his seat" look every time the other team went on a 4-0 run.
  8. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    To be perfectly honest, I am not interested why a student at Villanova University, which is not in Cleveland, thinks a player for the Cleveland Cavaliers who grew up in Ohio should be MVP of the NBA.

    If I attended Villanova I wouldn't be interested, either.
  9. shockey

    shockey Active Member


    leave the kid alone. he wanted feedback on the column-writng, not feedback on the topic relevance.

    shorter graphs is a good way to star. rarely does a graph need to be longer than two sentences -- if you really want every word to be read by today's short-attention span readers. writers at my own paper have difficulty accpting this notion, too, but they should.

    beyond that, kid, just keep reporting/writing. nobody leaves college as a columnist. you build up to it by reporting and writing. keep your ears open and learn at every turn. if you really love it, keep at it. 8) 8) 8)
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    One of the most difficult things about being a columnist is finding relevant, interesting things to write about. So I am giving him feedback on that.
  11. shockey

    shockey Active Member


    this isn't about us. the kid isn't seeking feedback on news judgment here. he's seeking feedback on whether he can write/report/make a case. he's a long way away from writing what he wants as a columnist anywhere. many have editors assign topics to them anyway.

    geez, just help the guy or not, but critiquing his topic of choice didn't seem the point to me.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I am helping the guy. If I ever see clips from a college student applying for a job or an internship, I want to see clips relevant to the college. I don't want to see someone opining about the NBA or NFL or major-league baseball unless there is a real good reason.

    It makes me think the person isn't on the ball enough to think of topics on his own. If this is his first effort, fine. Just pointing out that even if well-written, the topic is not impressive for a college paper.
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