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Your Friday night routine

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by spud, Sep 5, 2009.

  1. spud

    spud Member

    Just curious, but for you prepsters, what's your Friday night typically like? You out in the field? Sweating it out on the desk dealing with shit for deadlines? Are you the latter now and long for days when you were the former? Do you have to travel far afield for games? Do you prowl the sideline or sit up in the box (if there is one)? How do you formulate your story? Do you even have a formula?

    Anyway, can think of more questions than that but was out at a game last night and it got me wondering how the rest of you guys make do on Fridays.
  2. I used to roam the sidelines, but lately I stay in the box to keep up with the other games and contribute to the blog
  3. CentralIllinoisan

    CentralIllinoisan Active Member

    Arrive at the field 45 minutes before the game usually. Talk to both coaches, get lineups, talk about any injuries, ask about their families, etc. Let them know I'm there.

    Get officials card from refs; you can't trust the pressbox to have it.

    Grab some popcorn; gotta have popcorn.

    I work the sidelines in certain situations (area team vs. non-area team), but mainly in the box. I like to have accurate stats and also twitter. Hard to do that standing.

    After the game, I get visiting coach first; he's most likely to bolt first. Grab players, if needed.

    Talk to home coach and at least two players from winning team. I'm asking specific questions, getting inside their heads. They played the game, so I let tell me what happened.

    As I'm exiting the stadium, I'm already formulating my story from quotes I got or situations I remember, research I've done. Trying not be cliche, working past the first idea that pops in your head.

    Once back at the office, I add up the second half of the box and get my agate done. From this, I can see the totality of the game and what numbers jump out at me, if any.

    If I'm lucky, the lede came to me in the car on the way back to the office. It's always the hardest part for me, so once I have it, I'm golden and the story flows from there.

    When writing, never settle for rote, cliched stuff. Sometimes deadline forces you not be your best, but fight against it. The more games you cover, the easier it gets.

    Here's a story I wrote just last night, and I went through all I mentioned above (Well, aside from the popcorn. The line was too long).

    The No. 3 team in the state, Metamora, had beaten its rival Washington 19 straight times and won 35 straight conference games. Washington finally beat Metamora last night, 28-7. Quite a big upset in these parts.

    I had about 45 minutes to do the box and story, to give you an idea of the time I had postgame.

  4. Den1983

    Den1983 Active Member

    Eighty percent of the time on Friday nights, I'm at a game. The other 20 percent, as SE, I'll do desk and take calls and layout.

    But most nights, I'm at the game an hour early. I set up, look over rosters, formulate my stat sheets (I have my own system, though I'm sure I make it harder than I need to) and go over each team's stats from the last week's game, as well as that day's paper when I did an advance and look and pay attention to what each coach told me they wanted, would be emphasizing or were looking at from this particular game.

    At halftime, I take my running stats and do a box for the half's stats. That way, when I get back to the office, all I have to do is compile the second half stats and add to the first.

    I also start looking for trends, developing ideas for ledes and then spend the start of the second half looking for any adjustments each time might have made.

    After the game, I try and get quotes (if I can get them, I'll get each coach and a player from the winning team), but more often than not, I can't because we have a pass-heavy district where games don't typically end until 10:35-10:45, with an 11:30 deadline (we don't have air cards and all of our stadiums in the city don't have wireless, which is a story for another day). So we have to generally plan for 15-20 minutes back to the office or home, whichever is closer, so we can send our stories from there.

    Generally, I have about 30 minutes to get the story in. Ten are spent gathering and totaling stats, and the other 20 is spent working on the story, More often than not, I have the lede already in mind. That's the toughest part for me, so it's smooth sailing from there.

    After I turn in my story (anywhere from 16-20 inches), if I'm at home, the desk will email me file football roundups from that night so I can put on the Web site.

    That's a typical Friday, and sometimes Saturday, night for me.
  5. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    I'm usually getting ripped apart by mosquitos in some farm town with 50 people in the stands and only 18 players on the field.

    And I still wouldn't trade it for a "real" job :)
  6. Big Circus

    Big Circus Well-Known Member

    1. Fast-food dinner
    2. Ice cream
    3. Masturbate while crying
  7. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    This is my 40th high school football season, not counting when I was in high school. I've been involved in every level of coverage and now slot out a section that includes coverage of a shitload of schools.
    When I covered games, I never saw the reason for interviewing a coach before the game, that should have been done during the week. I hate stories that lede with: Coach Billy Don Jackson said before the game that he hoped his team could run the ball against Letsget High. Well, the Eagles ran well and beat Stoner, 21-7." ..... Don't tell me what happened before the game, tell me what happened during the game.
    If I knew the coach, I'd approach him before the game, say hi, and remind him that I wanted to talk to him after the game. If I didn't know the coach, I'd approach him before the game, introduce myself and ID my paper, and tell him I wanted to talk to him after the game.
    I always covered games from the sidelines, unless it was raining. It's easier to determine yard lines. But the key reason for that was sometimes it's hard to tell who recovered a fumble if there is a big pileup of players. If you can't tell, you can easily ask somebody on the sideline. The disadvantage is on intercepted passes. It's hard to determine where the interception was made and if the guy runs it back all the way, it's a major stat, knowing the yardage of the interception return. Same on punt returns. I'd be down where the returner is and if the punt was blocked or there was something weird, it might be hard to tell what happened.
    If there's a deadline crunch, I'd rather have one decent postgame quote from the coach than a bullshit pregame quote.
  8. littlehurt98

    littlehurt98 Member

    I arrive at the field anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour early. I always head up to the press box and search for rosters first thing. Typically I have them already, but I like to check for number changes (I had bad experience in state playoff game once where a kid was injured the week before and there was some question as to whether or not he would play that week. He did, but was listed under a different number, a number that was on the roster and listed to a kid to played his position. After the game I asked the coach why the injured kid didn't play and I was quickly corrected.)

    After searching over the rosters I usually head down to the field and see what the footing is like on the sidelines. I am usually required to shoot most games, so I like to see which sideline has the better ground for camera monopod placement. If I have time I will usually talk to one or both coaches, but not always. If it is a coach I know pretty well I may go over and shoot the shit. I'm never searching for anything to quote in a story, but the background is still helpful when he tells me that such and such had a good week of practice. I'm already looking at that kid when the game starts to see what he does.

    I have an advantage of bringing my dad with me to games and he does stats for me. Several years ago my dad moved closer to me when he reached retirement age and he enjoys the atmosphere of Friday night football. He always pays to get in. He and I always both agreed it would be weird to pass him off as a press member, but having him do the stats helps. He likes to sit in the press box or the opposing team's stands (usually less people). He says being higher up helps.

    Before he moved closer I would roam the sidelines for the first half and shoot the game. I never shot in the second half back then because I always wanted to get to the press box and start formulating ideas. Now-a-days if I don't think I have a decent shot I will shoot for most of the game.

    I like the sidelines. I usually walk the home side, people are just usually friendlier on that side. Some coaches don't mind you getting into that box area, other's do. Over the years I have learned which coach prefers what, but I have also learned they will tell you where you can't be. As long as you do what they say on such matters I've never had a problem.

    I always carry a reporter's notebook in my back pocket and take notes during the game. Key plays, the scoring play, long passes or runs and what not. At halftime I always go up to check stats and see who is doing what. I usually already have an idea, but always good to confirm.

    Second half is usually pretty much the same. Dad will make his way down to the sidelines or as close as he can get near the end of the game and I go and get the stat book after the game and give it a quick glance.

    Always talk to the visiting coach first. They typically leave pretty quickly. Also get a kid if needed. Then I go find the home team coach and also talk to a kid if needed. Most times I only get a kid from the winning team, but if someone particularly stood out on the losing side I try to get a quick comment too.

    I typically about an hour to file after a game. We don't have those air cards at my shop so I either have to allow for driving time or find a McDonalds or Burger King or whatever may have internet service. (I always check to see a few days before to see what restaurants are in said town. Some schools have wireless not all and most are within driving distance for me, especially when dad goes. He can drive back if we ride together and I can write.) If I drive back I usually go to whatever is closer, the house or the shop it just depends which way I am coming from.

    Dad always has all the stats added up and I can do my box on the way back pretty quickly and get it out of the way. Usually throughout the second half I am formulating ideas on what I want to write about and trying to get a lede which is always the hardest part. You get that baby down and it can be smooth sailing.

    That's pretty much a Friday night for me.
  9. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Ah, I remember having my dad tag along with me to cover a game -- exactly once.

    We get along great, have always enjoyed playing/watching sports together, but Dad's the kind of guy who doesn't understand "no cheering from the press box." And this was courtside at a high school regional semifinal.

    Still, I was sick as a dog and had to tough it out so I could vote for my "all-U.P. team" picks prior to the game (Hi, U.P. Chip!), then take photos during it. So Dad drove me to and from the U.P. sportswriters/broadcasters meeting, took in the game, then had fun driving an ill sportswriter/photographer home through snow.

    Let's just say I was greener than the uniforms of the team I was covering, but I got some good photos while my dad yukked it up and did his best to embarrass me from the press table.

    Thanks as always, Dad! :)
  10. Things are a lot less hectic around here because there are many Saturday afternoon games. But there's still plenty to do on a Friday night.

    -- Grab at program a the gate and swing by the coaches and ADs to say hi and check for changes/injuries/oddities.
    -- Let the local state high school rep, a buddy of mine, bend my ear for a few minutes and fill me in on the rest of the action around the state.
    -- Take stats and notes from the visitors sideline (fewer or no fans, closer to the sticks). Add stats during breaks in play.
    -- At the half, give major stats to the local radio guy; call the office and other papers with updates for their first editions; write what I can and make a concession stand run if there's time.
    -- At the buzzer, get my butt onto the field ASAP to grab quotes from visiting coach and hopefully a player. Snag at least two hometown players, if time allows, and coach (I try to quote players more than coaches).
    -- Zip back to the office to file and help with agate, phoners, layout and editing.
  11. I get to the game as early as I can before the game, but that isn't always possible because of work around the office. Upon arriving, I try to decide if I should break the computer out or not. Usually, I don't. The only time I do is when I feel I will have to send from the school. I keep stats in my notebook, trying to keep a running tally. I prefer the press box, but I go to field level near the end.

    I get whichever coach I need most first. Then grab players and hustle to the office, or back to the box to write. I really enjoy it.
  12. budcrew08

    budcrew08 Active Member

    @central: what's your paper's deadline and what time do games start? one of the biggest problems my paper is going to have this fall is the fact that games start at 7 or 7:30 and final out the door is 10:45 with a two-man staff.
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