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.

About jgisondi

I am the author of the "Field Guide To Covering Sports," the second edition now available from Congressional Quarterly Press/SAGE, and "Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot" (U of Nebraska Press). Field Guide to Covering Sports, Second Edition goes beyond general guidance about sports writing, offering readers practical advice on covering 20 specific sports. From auto racing to wrestling, author Joe Gisondi gives tips on the seemingly straightforward—like where to stand on the sideline and how to identify a key player—along with the more specialized—such as figuring out shot selection in lacrosse and understanding a coxswain’s call for a harder stroke in rowing. In the new Second Edition, readers also explore sports reporting across multimedia platforms, developing a foundational understanding for social media, mobile media, visual storytelling, writing for television and radio, and applying sabermetrics. Fully revised with new examples and updated information to give readers confidence in covering just about any game, match, meet, race, regatta or tournament, Field Guide to Covering Sports, Second Edition is the ideal go-to resource to have on hand when mastering the beat. In "Monster Trek," Joe Gisondi brings to life the celebrities in bigfoot culture: people such as Matt Moneymaker, Jeff Meldrum, and Cliff Barackman, who explore remote wooded areas of the country for weeks at a time and spend thousands of dollars on infrared imagers, cameras, and high-end camping equipment. Pursuing the answer to why these seekers of bigfoot do what they do, Gisondi brings to the reader their most interesting—and in many cases, harrowing—expeditions. You can order both from Amazon.
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