Writing is not a mystery, even if you binge-watch ‘Bosch’

Writing is not a mystery, except when it is.

If you’ve written a great deal, you know what I mean. If you have not, the previous sentence reads like awful haiku.

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Did Sports Illustrated senior writer reveal a bias to hire women? Isn’t it really about time for all sports media to do so?

There is a fascinating discussion on gender bias taking place on Twitter among several talented sports writers. No shocker: social media sees this as a black-and-white issue, but there are several gray areas as well.

Is it OK to hire and promote women over men, even if the industry is disproportionately one-sided? That’s a notion that has been discussed for many decades – even if there has been nominal progress. Sports journalism remains men-centric even though we educators have noticed extraordinary interest among women in covering sports. We now get large numbers at the CMI Sports Reporting Workshop, women pack sessions on sports coverage at College Media Association conferences and more women are taking our sports media courses here at Eastern Illinois University. (Shameless plug: we have elevated our sports program to a major starting Fall 2018). Continue reading “Did Sports Illustrated senior writer reveal a bias to hire women? Isn’t it really about time for all sports media to do so?”

Advice from veteran sports writer Tommy Deas

tommy
Tommy Deas
 Tommy Deas, executive sports editor at The Tuscaloosa News and former president of the Associated Press Sports Editors, offered terrific advice to students attending the College Media Mega Workshop here in Minneapolis. Deas regularly mentors young students, which was evident by his pragmatic advice and encouraging tone. 

Here is some advice culled from our conversation with Deas, offered in no particular order of importance:

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Sports features don’t need to be written so neutrally

RamonesI don’t know about you, but I get bored pretty damned easily, which is evident by the scant number of posts I’ve planted here during the past few years, by the constant changes to my classes, and by the way I constantly re-arrange my offices (and this blog). My wife loves to tell the story, while wiping a faux tear from her face, about the time I uttered this heart-melting romantic line to her: “You’re the only thing I’ve never been bored with.” Yes, ladies, grab some tissues. But it’s true. More than 27 years later, she’s still my sweetie.

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Test students for sports terms, style

Students are always going to stumble over coverage of sports events, especially on deadline, such as finding the best angles, selecting appropriate quotes, structuring stories effectively, asking probing questions, and determining key trends and plays. That’s part of the learning process. So is employing suitable terms.

I used to think students would know the difference between shut and shutout and that players are positioned at second base, point guard, and running back. But I’ve learned this is not the case. Instead, stories are filled with secondbasemen, pointguards, and runningbacks.

This weekend, I developed four exercises that teachers can use to further reinforce the proper terms that are outlined in both the Field Guide To Covering Sports and in the Associated Press Stylebook. (Listed on the right side of this page.)

After reviewing sports terms in class, you can use the following exercises to test how much students have learned. Ultimately, you can create a final test or ask students to detect errors in sports stories. Please, send me your own style questions so I can share them with others. In the meantime, feel free to use the AP Style exercises below.