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.