Insights from an LSU beat writer

This was originally posted in November 2013

Sports writers should address football coaches by their proper names.

Beat writers not tweeting at a coach’s press conference are cheating their audience.

That’s some of the advice offered by Randy Rosetta, the Times-Picayune’s LSU beat writer, during the CMA national college journalism conference in New Orleans.

Rosetta emphasized that sports writers should refrain from calling coach’s “coach” during interviews and discussions in order to develop a more professional relationship. “If you use coach,” Rosetta said, “then they’ve got you.”

In addition, he said, beat writers need to deliver information immediately to fans, usually by tweeting quotes, comments, and other key information during press conferences and games. Afterward, writers can then post a blog entry. Fans want to read everything they can on their favorite teams. Said Rosetta: “Feed your audience.”

Some other suggestions:

  • For college games on TV, interview players who probably won’t be interviewed by national media. Offer a new perspective.
  • After emotional games, still ask the tough questions. Athletes and coaches usually want to explain what happened.
  • After games, ask direct, concise questions to get more specific responses.
  • You don’t have to focus just on action on the fields for game stories. Find story angles beforehand and offer analysis. “Talk to players before the game,” Rosetta said. “Ask them: Can you walk me through what you’re going to do?”
  • Let players explain what happened in game stories. It means more to readers if a quarterback describes his interceptions as “bad passes” than if sportswriters use that adjective.
  • In order to prepare to cover games, re-read game notes, read previously published stories, and review stats sheets. “Act as if this is the last hour before a big test,” said Rosetta.
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About jgisondi

I covered sports and worked as a sports copy editor for more than 20 years at several newspapers in Florida, including the Fort Myers News-Press, Clearwater Sun, Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. I started writing for a weekly sports publication in Coral Springs, Fla., at age 15. I have been hooked on sports journalism ever since. I was fortunate to have worked with some amazing editors along the way, journalists who took the time to help me even when my copy was not top-notch. Now, I teach journalism at Eastern Illinois University and work as an editor for Landof10.com, a vertical that focuses on Big Ten athletics. A second edition of the "Field Guide To Covering Sports" will be available sometime in February 2017. The book is a practical guide to preparing, observing, interviewing and writing about 20 different sports, from auto racing to wrestling. Chapters also address ways to cover high school sports, fantasy sports, to develop sports blogs. You can also learn how to cover games, to write features and to interview better. Fans can also learn basic rules of these sports, along with ways to better observe the action. New chapters in the second edition will address social media, advanced analytics, fantasy sports coverage and revised, expanded chapters address game coverage, features and columns, among other new sections.
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