Don’t fear asking the right questions

Don’t let coaches intimidate you from asking questions. If you believe the biggest controversy revolves around whom will start at quarterback, then ask about that scenario — even if the coach becomes agitated, surly or even angry, as Tide coach Nick Saban did here.

To Saban’s credit, he apologized. Likely, some coaches will also offer a mea culpa, if you regularly cover a beat (or if the response is well publicized).

Coaches have the power to eradicate such questions by either responding candidly or by making a decision on, say, who will be the starting quarterback. They just need to realize that transparency will set them free.


‘Morning Joe’ interview with Congressman can be a lesson for sports journalists as well

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I’m not trying to wade into politics here – although I’ll gladly discuss my second fave topic elsewhere – but this interview with a Texas Congressman can serve to teach all journalists how to address sources who attack, deflect, obfuscate and conflate. Just imagine that an athletic director, coach, commissioner or agent is speaking instead.

Rep. Kevin Brady, the source interviewed during a segment on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” was asked about part of a tax bill that will probably come to a vote later today by Willie Geist, among the better interviewers on TV. In particular: he asked about carried interest, a term very few people know much about. But isn’t that a reason we watch, listen and read news?

Continue reading “‘Morning Joe’ interview with Congressman can be a lesson for sports journalists as well”

Develop relationship with SIDs before diving into coverage

I was chatting with a friend who advises an East Coast university newspaper this morning about college sports journalism education. He mentioned the uncertainty students have about interviewing student-athletes. They ask him questions, such as: “Is it legal to go up and interview a player away from the field?” “Do reporters need to go through the sports information director?” “Is it OK to ask an athlete questions in class?”

Continue reading “Develop relationship with SIDs before diving into coverage”

Introspective interviews can yield lively scenes

I originally published this on IU’s National Sports Journalism Center website in July 2011.

Scenes help drive stories.

But sportswriters can’t develop scenes unless they do their research – interviewing, observing and researching.

In journalism, interviews frequently trump other methods – especially on deadline. In Tyler Dunne’s case, interviews yielded several wonderful scenes for his first big piece for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, an 1,800-plus word story on Packers rookie running back Alex Green. Dunne began calling sources before he officially started as the team’s new beat writer for Green Bay, having replaced Greg Bedard who departed for the Boston Globe. Continue reading “Introspective interviews can yield lively scenes”

Interviewing is essential to engaging readers in sports features

I originally published this on Indiana University’s National Sports Journalism Center website in July 2011.

ESPN’s Wright Thompson was chatting with some golf writers in a bar near St. Andrew’s, host course for the 2010 British Open, when he heard an unusual story.

Apparently, golfers took boats to play on a course at Daufuskie Island, an islet along the South Carolina coast that is nearly abandoned except for a few employees and some Gullah, direct descendents of African-American slaves. More than a hundred people a day were once drawn to the majestic course, where Spanish moss hangs thick on trees, big waves crash onto fairways, and raptors soar overhead. Three scenic holes run along the Atlantic Ocean. Continue reading “Interviewing is essential to engaging readers in sports features”