Archive for March 30th, 2007

All should fight for free speech

March 30, 2007

The great John Siegenthaler spoke briefly at the Center for Innovation in College Media in Nashville, Tenn. The man who fought for civil rights and continues to battle for freedom of expression said he wishes he could jump more into new media reporting.

“I’m in my 80th year, but I wish I were starting over,” Siegenthaler said. “There’s the chance to do so much with the written word that’s never been done before. I wish to hell I was your age – and not for the reasons you might think.”

Everybody needs to learn more about the Siegenthaler and the continued fight of all journalists (and citizens) for freedom of expression,. You can start by checking out the Freedom Forum and First Amendment Center site and by reading as much as you can on Sieganthaler.

(photo/Brian Poulter)


Training offered at sports reporting institute

March 30, 2007

Here’s an opportunity for students looking to dig into sports more intensely.

Here’s the desciption from their website. Check it out (and let me know if you attend.) Would love to hear from someone attending this during the summer.

“The Sports Institute will offer an intensive four-week program of study, combining the practical and theoretical works of the sports industry. The purpose of the Institute is to train professionals and to offer a unique, specialized program in a nationally renowned academic setting.

This summer the institute is scheduled for June 4 – June 29, 2007.

Participants in the program will take four courses over the period of study, meeting a minimum of four hours a week per course. The intensive area of study will be open to current Boston University students as well as students from other colleges and universities. College students must have at least junior or above status. Graduate students are welcome as well. Professionals seeking career advancement are encouraged to enroll.

Tuition for the four week program is $4,000. Living expenses are not included in this fee. Contact Prof. Shorr for more information at”


Last Best League teaches much about baseball

March 30, 2007

Anybody covering baseball should pick up Jim Collins’ The Last Best League, a book that covers the top wooden-bat league in the nation. The top college baseball players in the country gather in Cape Cod each summer to see how they compare to other top prospects. Collins follows a team through a summer season. You’ll get a chance to see another side of professional and college baseball in this wonderfully written book.

This book also teaches much about setting, something sports journalists need to capture for gamers, features, and profiles. Setting should be more than mere background in a story, something Collins proves. Setting should help define the people we focus on in features about runners, ball players and swimmers. Head out to practice and describe athletes in their settings, both on and off the field.

Show plants blooming, hear wind whistling through an open field, and describe the salty air on a sultry night. A writer who spends time describing the tactile elements of a scene will retain readers in far greater numbers.

Here’s how Collins describes Chatham, a village on Cape Cod, Mass.:

“The days were lengthening, extending the sunlight past eight o’clock. Salt marshes greened up. Cranberry bushes and black locust trees bloomed. Some of the players had their first fun in town.”

And Collins describes the winds that frequently rake the towns and fields on the Cape through sound:

“Wind always blew here – the only question was whether high or low. When the wind was low, as it was that day, it snapped the American flag near the press box, whistled over the top of the plateau, and swirled across the diamond toward left field. The wind jerked fly balls, suddenly shifted them, gave outfielders fits.”

I love scenes where he focuses on a moment, like a photographer who frames a close-up shot:

“Chad Orvella’s hands were sweating so much that they squished in his leather batting gloves; he couldn’t swing without slipping. He walked back to the dugout with his bat under one arm, took off his batting gloves and wrung them like a sponge. D’Antona’s gray ‘Wake Forest’ T-shirt darkened with sweat halfway into his first round of swings. The players wished Schiffner would allow them to take B.P. in shorts and no shirts, the way teams did in Orleans and Bourne.”

This scene is palpable. The hands squished, the feet slipped, the glove was “wrung like a sponge,” and the T-shirt was soaked with sweat. The scene is palpable. Readers can feel the moment. Readers are immersed.

Collins shows so much more in this book as well. In particular, sports reporters can learn more about the business of college and professional baseball and about game strategy. This book is worth a read. Check it out.