Granted, I am a bit biased since I have been involved with the CMI Sports Reporting Workshop since its inception five years ago, but you won’t find a more impressive list of sports media professionals anywhere.
Sports journalism should include far more than game reports, reviews, columns and the occasional profile. The best sections address important issues related to sports.
Title IX is one of the most significant issues on college campuses, but it is a topic that is rarely reported in college media, which is a shame since the data is out there. So I’m always impressed when I find solid stories like this one by the Badger Herald’s Anne Blackbourn and this one by several writers at the Amherst Student.
Let’s look at some ways to develop a story using a database. In this case, I’ll address Title IX.
During the rest of the school year, I will assess (at least weekly) college sports journalism coverage across the country.
- The Crimson White’s Elliott Propes offers a terrific profile on Alabama’s top-ranked golfer, Robby Shelton. He begins with a scene on a golf course that illustrates a key theme in the story.
- I never understand why some college newspapers refuse to cover intramurals, especially when these events sometimes attract more interest than NCAA-sanctioned sports. Boise State’s Arbiter writes a preview of the school’s first-ever flag football championships. (A reminder: there is no such thing as a first annual because the event has never repeated itself. Annual can be used starting with the third successive event.)
Look at most college newspaper sports sections and you’ll see pretty much the same thing – stories about games: Precedes, folos, sidebars, columns. Sometimes, live tweets. Unfortunately, few college sports sections focus on stories outside the lines, as the Indiana Daily Student did this week. Why the dirth of non-game coverage? Habit. Laziness. Lack of imagination. Probably a little of each. To be fair, sports journalism newbies lack the perspective and context to drive these off-the-field stories. As aresult, student media advisers and journalism professors need to guide students away from exclusively covering games and to be sports reporters. It’s far easier to write about a sports event, where everything takes place in front of you and where sports information directors feed all kinds of background, stats, and key plays before setting up post-game interviews. To write a story like IDS’s Stephanie Kuzydym, you’ll need to think more creatively, do considerable research, and ask numerous follow-up questions. One more thing – as you read this story, notice how well this writer tells the story in her own voice, without inserting quotes every other graph. The story is a pleasure to read.
National Signing Day is like Christmas to college football fans, coaches and athletic directors.
For most college sports staffs, unfortunately, Wednesday might as well have been Arbor Day for the lack of timely coverage of football signings across the country.
While there’s a direct correlation between a team’s success and the quality of its recruits, according to Rivals.com, the relationship between college newspaper staffs and NSD is much more tenuous, even among student media covering traditional football powers. Sports staffs continue to wait until the next edition gets printed on paper to reveal news like this, an approach that is as antiquated as pica sticks and paste-up. There are exceptions, though, like student media at LSU, Michigan and Boise State, where staffs innovate and break news. Sadly, far too many sports staffs have failed to learn how to report in today’s media environment, where breaking news gets posted immediately – especially when readers have a voracious appetite for the content. Auburn fans, for instance, want to know who they’ve signed instantly – during a coffee break, while eating lunch or on their phones at any time.