Covering Games, Teaching sports journalism

Remaining active is essential to teaching sportswriting

Covering sports is often both humbling and gratifying, more so at the prep and small college level where not as much information is readily available. As a journalism teacher, I find these reporting experiences essential to teaching, serving as a reminder what students endure each time they head to a gym or ball field.

I once had a journalism professor who was out of touch, arguing that my approach to covering a game the night before for a local newspaper had been all kinds of wrong – perhaps if viewed through his mindset, which had clearly calcified a few decades earlier. I walked over to the college counselors after class to switch my major to English. If I was going to learn about older writing, I might as well read Hawthorne, Dickens and Whitman whose words still resonate.

On this assignment, I sought to model several behaviors:

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college sports media, Teaching sports journalism

Here are several ways to improve sports coverage at college media

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This is the most important time of the year for college sports media: when editors and producers need to plan coverage for the next three to – ideally – six months. 

Too often, editors and producers rely way, way (way!) too much on game precedes and folos, which is both lazy and unimaginative. To compound problems, college newspapers and TV stations lean on, respectively, print/digital game stories and brief descriptions of game highlights for its primary coverage. To be fair, professional newspapers and TV stations frequently fumble through game coverage as well even though this is the lowest form of sports reportage.

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Covering basketball, Sportswriting: Language

Some March Madness cliches are more wretched than others

used to rail vs clichés like “Cinderella” and “bubble teams.” Those words, though, have been used so pervasively in discussions about the NCAA Basketball Tournament that they are now as endemic to coverage as March Madness. That’s what makes English perhaps the best language on the planet; words are blended and redefined, in part, through popular usage and changes in society. (God help us, though, if charity stripe eventually makes the cut.)

Sports language has been a big part of our vernacular for more than a century. Baseball, in particular, has a strong hold on how we describe our lives. We go to bat for others, strike out when we fail, and hit a home run when we succeed. Sometimes, though, we throw a Hail Mary pass in a desperate attempt to do well. At other times, a decision or action is a slam dunk.

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Sports Columns

Here’s a rubric for evaluating sports columns

Columnists are reporters with an opinion. The best columnists are also keen observers, precise writers, and excellent storytellers. A sports columnist should offer meaningful insights, cover sports ignored by others, address cultural criticism, and analyze games in considerably more depth than the average fan. A sports columnist should, at different times, afflict and comfort us. Write with style and grace, have strong opinions (sharpened with facts), and offer fresh perspectives.

They should be as passionate as fans, but avoid acting like them by making partisan statements that are either implausible or simply laughably wrong. Sports columnists sometimes bring readers to places where fans cannot go, such as a locker room or the home of a player.

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Sportswriting, Training & Education

What questions do sports journalism students want answered?

So what do journalism students know, and, further, what do they want to learn?

That’s a primary concern for most educators like myself.

So I set out to ask students attending this week’s College Media Mega Workshop in Minneapolis that exact question.

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Sports Features, Teaching sports journalism

How to report and write news stories more visually

Co-wrote an article with friend and colleague Brian Poulter that has been published in the current issue of Teaching Journalism & Mass Communication. This evolved from a workshop we presented at several conferences on ways to improve writing skills by employing photographic approaches. Check it out.

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Sportswriting, Sportswriting: Language

Bring your ‘A-Game:’ Avoid using cliches in sports writing

Cliches still plague sports writing. I suspect that’s because younger sport writers, by and large, watch more sports than read about them, which is a shame because there are so many amazing sports books out there. Continue reading

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Social Media

Tweet like a journalist from live sports events

Tweeting from sports events is no longer optional (nor is inserting links into online stories, but that’s another post for another time). I suggested some approaches last night on Twitter that focused primarily on the Clippers-Mavs game. You can also check out this other post on tweeting from sports events that I assembled a few years ago.

Let me know how else you use social media during game coverage by citing them below or by tweeting them to me @joegisondi. Hope this all helps.

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