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Youth sports and a shrinking sports section

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Smallpotatoes, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    Lately our papers have been small. They usually are in January, but this year they're small than ever.
    In one of my towns there is a large youth basketball program with several teams, both in-town and travel. They routinely send me tons of copy each week. This week, I had 97 inches of submitted youth basketball copy. None of the write-ups by themselves were particularly long, but when you have dozens of teams playing multiple games, it adds up.
    Each week, I anticipate that I'm going to get a lot of this stuff and try to plan accordingly. Because the paper was so small this week, I didn't get as many pages as I asked for and I wasn't able to fit all of it in.
    I could double up the next week, but that may just create a bigger problem. I could just post everything on our Web site, but the readers don't seem to like that. It's really not the same as having it in the paper.
    The volume of copy combined with such a small section has meant that in order to accommodate the youth basketball crowd, I have to do it at the expense of high school sports and other youth sports.
    I don't want to discourage anybody from submitting anything and I don't want to do anything that might drive away readers, but since the chance of getting more space isn't good, what's the solution?
  2. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    The solution is, do the best you can. Make sure that organization -- and any others like it -- know that your policy is to run either on first-come, first-serve basis (space permitting), or timeliness, or whatever works best for you, your paper and your market.

    Don't try to "make it up" to anybody by running their old stuff a week later. That won't help, and you'll just get backlogged in the spring.

    People are going to get pissed, but don't take it personally. Be honest with people and be fair. That's all you can do.
  3. Lollygaggers

    Lollygaggers Member

    Readers are going to have to understand that things aren't going to be the same anymore. Maybe you can ask them to just send in results with points leaders from each game rather than actual write ups. Maybe you can run the copy in smaller type to try to get it all in. If neither of those work, you're going to just have to put some things on the Web only. If they don't like it, they're just going to have to realize that it's on the Web or nothing. I can't imagine there being another outlet where they can get that information published, right?
  4. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Make it your policy to not accept submissions over a certain number of words, (like most editorial boards won't accept letters more than 250 or 500 words or something like that). Then, when people complain, tell them that it's the paper's policy. Tell your editor about it, too, so that he will (hopefully) back you up.

    Get the most important info in the paper, like the score and the top scorers, stuff that readers who aren't related to the team will care about. The other stuff, put on the web site. Nobody except the family cares that Little Johnny Buttwipe scored two points.
  5. How many people actually run youth sports stuff? Just curious. We currently do not (unless a team makes a run in a national tournament or something big).
  6. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Depends on the paper, and the community it covers. At little dailies and weeklies, it's their bread and butter.
  7. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Hell, at my old (20K) daily, we had a four-page weekly special section devoted to youth sports. One of the biggest sellers -- advertising- and circulation-wise, not to mention editorial -- in the entire paper for the first year.
  8. micke77

    micke77 Member

    we're a small six days a week daily and we run tons of youth stuff. the readers love it. in the summer, for years and years now, we've actually run EVERY baseball/softball game played in the youth programs. we're talking gosh-knows how many names. and it sells big time. parents want this, grand-parents, friends, etc. we have it organized to where we have the direcdtors and/or coaches email their reports in...this is where i truly believe newspapers--at least the smaller one--can overcome some of the freakin' "sky is falling" mania that has beset our profession. we can do this where the larger papers in the area don't give a rat's rear end or care to take the time to do it.
  9. KYSportsWriter

    KYSportsWriter Well-Known Member

    We're in the same boat as micke77.

    We run a youth/recreation sports page each Thursday, with everything devoted to that area. We run hunting and sports pictures along with agate of all kinds of sports.

    Typically we'll have an outdoors column, but our guy hasn't written anything in a while.

    And since we took a two-week break because of Christmas and New Year, today was spent catching up on everything. Most of the leagues took Christmas off, so a lot of the stuff isn't that old. Example: We have several leagues who turn bowling results in each week. Today, we just ran the up-to-date standings with results from the last two weeks.

    Also had a crapload of basketball agate to go with it. All done, typed 80 inches of agate and had several photos on the page.
  10. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    Should you just make room for the youth stuff regardless of how much you receive, even if it means short-changing something else?
  11. KYSportsWriter

    KYSportsWriter Well-Known Member

    Have you tried devoting just one or even two pages a week to it?
  12. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Honestly, you're the only one who can answer that.

    My gut says don't short-change the stuff you cover. Submitted stuff should run on a first-come, first-serve basis, space permitting.
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