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  1. Covering Sports News Writing

  2. What do you need to know about writing SPORTS?

  3. Sports writers must know … • the rules and basics of playing and scoring the sport they are covering • who are the key players on the team(star seniors, up-and-coming underclassmen, returning individual winners from last year, etc.) • how the team did last year • what statistics are typically kept for this sport and what they mean

  4. Sports writers must know … • the schedules for the teams they cover (update with results throughout the season) • when is the perfect time to reach players and coaches for features • the coaches • what other resources are available: stats, videos, other info online?

  5. In school sports • winning isn’t everything • players = stories • non-players = stories and sometimes coaches = stories, too • losing = tasteful stories

  6. Types of sports news stories • advance or preview • game coverage • briefs • news features Most of the stories you write will NOT be game stories … why?

  7. Why game stories aren’t so great Timeliness:The outcome of the game is known, so it’s not news because it’s not that interesting anymore. Another game might have already happened, changing stats reported in a previous game story.

  8. Why game stories are helpful On the other hand, there is nothing like reporting on a significant game to sharpen your sports writing skills. Beginners, particularly, can learn a lot from covering a game. It’s GREAT practice — and awesome for keeping websites up to date.

  9. Covering games Plan and prepare before the game. • Talk to the coach and let him/her know you’ll be covering a game. Ask what to expect, who to watch, any trends developing. • Get a team roster with player names andjersey numbers. • Know the stats and find out who will be the statistician for the game. Make arrangements ahead to get the end-of-game stats when the game ends. • Use email or social media to contact the coach of the opposing team to get a roster.

  10. Covering games During the game ... • Watch carefully. Note the big plays and scores. • Tweet results or big plays as they happen, using players’ names (you have the roster with you!). • Observe the opposing team, too. You should know who their key players are, and have the roster of that team as well. • Do not express your opinion in tweets or coverage. You are acting as an outside observer, not a fan.

  11. Covering games After the game ... • Get the end-of-game stats from the statistician and get to the locker room to gather quotes from the players while the emotion is still running high. • Use your notes and your tweets to help you organize a chronology of the game. • Take a deep breath. What was the most important thing that happened? After you have your notes and quotes, stop and think about what the lead is. • Write quickly. Your goal should be to have the game story online within 12 to 24 hours of the game ending.

  12. What’s (often) better than sportsgame stories • If something extraordinary happened in a game that everyone is talking about, such as an injury or an unexpected rout of a favored team, write the most up-to-date information — looking forward, not back. • Write about an individual player or group (offense, defense, offensive line, etc).

  13. Better than game stories • Look for trends across several games. A strong offense, challenges on the defense, injuries, stars or outstanding players, recurrent problems or issues? • Find out who keeps the team’s stats and get to know that person. The statistician is your new best friend. • Always know where the team ranks in the district, region and state.

  14. Know the stats • Keep up with team statistics and use them in your stories. This is especially important in game stories, but you need it for all sports stories. • If a player or team breaks or ties a school or local record, you need to make that a big part of your story. It’s probably your lead. • If a player or team makes it to regional or state competition, that’s a news story too.

  15. Watch the team practice, play • You cannot write a good sports story from someone else’s memory. • You must be present to know what happened. Take notes and make photos while you are watching. • Spend time after games to speak to the players and coaches. It’s best to get them while they are still thinking about the game.

  16. Worth saying again You cannot write a good sports story from someone else’s memory. You have to be there.

  17. Identify players in the story • Don’t just say “Joe Smith” Say “tackle Joe Smith” • Identify the player’s position. In captions, use the jersey number, too. • Don’t use numbers for grade or year of graduation — sports have plenty of other numbers already. • Make every attempt to identify the other team’s players, too.

  18. Use AP Style for scores • Scores are numerals separated by hyphens (12-6, not 12 to 6). • Records are numerals separated by hyphens (8-2, not 8 and 2). • The winning score always comes first, even if your school didn’t win.

  19. Do not editorialize • Even in sports writing, a clear distinction must exist between reporting the news and expressing an opinion. • If you are writing an article about how the team is doing or a profile of an athlete, you must remain objective. • If you are writing what you think about the team, the players, the sport or the game, that’s a commentary, not news.

  20. Do not be a cheerleader • Don’t write “our” team, write about “the” team. • Nevercongratulate a team on its win in your story, or say it was a good try if the team lost. • What’s the word for this? editorializing

  21. Story ideas • athletes and health (conditioning during the season or off season; prevention and care of injuries) • what it’s like to: warm the bench, lose eligibility, be injured the whole season, lose in the finals, be scouted • recreational and “extreme” sports • non-school sports students play, such as equestrian, water skiing, bicycle racing,figure skating • how and why coaches become coaches

  22. Story ideas • how much it costs to play a sport • how much it costs the school to run theathletic programs • what happens in the weight room • generations of athletes in the same family • athletic booster club • multiple-sport athletes; students who play school sports in all three seasons • students who play club sports during their sport’s off-season

  23. Story ideas • maintaining the athletic fields, courts, playing surfaces, scoreboards • how athletes prepare for the final game of their high school career • coping with sports injuries • the college recruiting process • alumni who are playing sports in college on scholarship

  24. Assignment 1: story ideas • Working with a partner, brainstorm five sports story ideas for your newspaper or yearbook.Use specific examples: • sport • athlete • angle • Turn in your ideas by the end of class.

  25. Assignment 1 extension Write your story • Using the list of ideas you brainstormed with a partner, choose one idea that you can write. • Use the Story Prep Worksheet to plan your story.

  26. Assignment 2: sports coverage • Using other student media, previous issues of your publication, or prep sports coverage from local professionals, find a well-written school sports news story. •  Summarize the story. Be sure to include: -   headline -   byline -   date published -   name of publication - the 5W’s and H

  27. Assignment, continued ... Next, write a half-page reaction to the story. Discuss the following: • the way the story was written and reported; what the reporter had to do to get this story •   why this story is news (news values) • why you are sure this is news, not opinion •   what was not included and could or should have been in the story •   how a similar story might be written for your publication •   other thoughts, opinions, insights or reactions