9 ways to improve your sports section

9 Ways to Improve Your Sports Section- Joe Gisondi (Eastern Illinois University)

When I arrived at this session the entire room was packed and I basically had to stand in the hallway to be able to listen to the session. I noticed that the speaker was a student and he was trying to talk about anything sports related. Before the speaker got there he began talking about ways he thought people could improve their sports section.

1.) Be versatile-Be able to provide what people want, be flexible. Be involved in all different forms of media. Write an article, broadcast a game, get on the radio. Make sure you photoshop pictures.
-All of the above good advice, especially coming from a Freshman writer from a small college in Kentucky.

2.) Have a student designated for certain games. One student basketball, football, baseball, etc.
-Overall, I think his point was to have beats for your staff. Having such a small staff on the Northerner could pose a problem with having a continuous person on a certain team all year but we could definitely improve.

3.) Utilize social media. Get traffic to Twitter & Facebook. Get people to pay attention/listen.
-The Northerner utilizes social media, however I think we could definitely live tweet more games and use it more to our advantage.

At this point the speaker shows up, he was stuck in traffic.

He begins talking about basics, what staffs forget to do. Every paper needs to think of their selves as a daily. If your paper is doing sports, you’re a daily. No one wants an update from the football or basketball game a day later. Utilize the web, put every single game online within 30 to 60 minutes. Create a sports blog section and link it to your Twitter, Facebook and web page. Sports in print on a weekly is for features. Web is for breaking news. You can post a story without quotes and update it later after you have input.

-Overall I think it is a great idea. We definitely don’t post every game because we have a limited amount of people. But I think it would be great to begin a sports blog and go from there. We should try to at least post some kind of beat twice a week.

A paper should feature a story about the game or they should establish beats. The sports writers on your newspaper should establish a good relationship with coaches and meet with them at least once a week. I think this is very important because once we have a good relationship we will be able to learn more about the teams as a whole and get more stories out of it. The meeting should be anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, talk about the sport and it doesn’t have to be on the record. Get to know the team away from the sidelines, it generally gives you stories you never thought about.

Papers need to have a balancing coverage. Overall there are way too many columns in sections, he strongly didn’t recommend columns written on beats because it will cause problems. Write columns about other things, writers need to be neutral for their beat. Divide the two, stop publishing so many columns.

He also covered the issue of not writing about something if you don’t regularly cover it. For example: “Don’t just write a column about the Giants, you aren’t covering it, you don’t know them.” The people who can find the great stories are who companies want to hire. Write columns on the cross country team, there are stories everywhere. Write the columns no one else will write. Find the stories. Don’t just show up on game day-hang out at a practice. Work as hard as they are and earn their respect.

Just tell stories, columns don’t have to be opinionated. Don’t just write about something because you like it or you see it. It’s a two way street with the relationships with the coaches and the reporters. Hanging out will get a lot of great stories, try something different.

If you’re a paper writing about sports, read sports illustrated or ESPN magazine. Anything you post online, link out to different social media places. Look at college papers, look at regular papers. Check out online and print. Don’t be scared to put cross country on the front page.

To be successful a publication needs to promote the print version online and the online version on print. Do notebooks and devote them to one sport sometimes. Look at the volleyball team or swim team. Notes about other teams across the area, contact the coaches your team is playing against, write something that no one else is covering.

I thought this session was extremely helpful and could really help our sports section over all. I think we should definitely begin a blog and start assigning beats.

Post by: Brook Clifford, Staff Writer.