Archive for August, 2009

Use recorder to obtain best quotes

August 31, 2009

When I took Reporting I in my junior year, I never used a recorder because I wanted to be comfortable reporting stories without one. Now, if I’m covering something and I don’t have a recorder, I don’t have to panic because I know I have the skills to get by. This happened to me during my summer internship. I had to cover a women’s junior college basketball all-star game and I’d left my recorder at home.  I had to talk to a lot of people (players, coaches, scouts, etc.) and take hand-written notes, but the story turned out fine.

Whether to use a recorder is one question many students have. I say you should know how to report without one. That being said, once you are working for a paper, the only reason you shouldn’t use one is when your interview subject declines to be recorded.

Reading through the Independent Alligator today I noticed an abundant amount of terrible quotes. Most of them were under ten words. Examples: (more…)

Communication & Recognition

August 31, 2009

I can’t stress how important communication and recognition are in any job, especially in journalism and sports journalism.

Not only do you need to know your newspaper adviser, Editor-in-Chief, other editors, photographers, ad sales representatives, copy editors and staff writers.

The best way to get to know your colleagues is to visit and spend time in the newsroom. Even if you aren’t in a leadership position, it’s important to be noticed. That’s one thing I learned last year.

I came in as a freshman and was hesitant and intimidated by the newsroom, but I learned quickly that although deadlines can be killer, my colleagues try to keep a laid back attitude. If I hadn’t have shown my face in the newsroom last year, I wouldn’t be the Sports Editor as a sophomore, working alongside seniors in other leadership roles.

Also, for us sports writers, we MUST know the coaches, athletes and SIDs. Coaches and athletes need to be comfortable talking with you and vice versa. You should feel confident approaching SIDs to obtain information and set up interviews. I realize things can be scary at first, but the truth is, SIDs can be your most dependable resource. (more…)

Want a job? Bust. Your. Ass.

August 27, 2009

A few quick takes on sports journalism:

Check out these suggestions for making your sports section more interactive.

Sports Illustrated’s Jeff Pearlman advises those trying to break into sports journalism: “Bust. Your. Ass.” Pearlman, the author of four books, talks about blogging and how to stand out when applying for a job.

Athletes now break news on Twitter. How does this affect sports journalism?


Make the most of your four years

August 26, 2009

I wish I had a time machine so I could do it all over again. Entering my senior year at the University of Florida, I know I’m a little behind the curve and I have ground to make up. I can think of many things I should have done earlier in my college career, but didn’t. So I’m going to share some of those things with you. This will be my blueprint to college success aimed at incoming freshmen who are thinking of being journalism majors. If you are such a freshman then you should be well prepared to find a job after school by following these guidelines.

UF senior to share experiences

August 26, 2009

Nathan, Deen, a senior at the University of Florida, will also share his experiences as a sports reporter this year for this blog Nathan worked as  an intern for the Pensacola News Journal this past summer, for whom he will also blog three times a week on the Gators football team. In addition, he may be working for Independent Alligator, the student-run newspaper near campus in Gaineville.

Finding great writers

August 26, 2009

Last night, I hung out with a former co-worker for a few hours. We started off just talking about sports and different things going on at Murray State, but as we continued to talk we began to reminisce about last year. I don’t think you could’ve found a college newspaper with a closer, crazier, more outgoing sports section. We were all best friends, brothers and sisters. Now, last year’s editor has graduated and moved back to Ohio, our assistant sports editor has been deployed overseas with the U. S. Air Force and another writer is now employed by the athletic department as the radio voice for women’s basketball. This left me with two writers with whom I was close. And although, we could manage the section, I think it’s important for all those who are interested in journalism to be given a chance.


Introduce yourself to coaches, SIDs

August 25, 2009

First impressions are terribly important. So make a better one by introducing yourself to the coaches and sports information directors you will work with this season – in their offices, not out on the field where they will be working. You would not want people introducing themselves to you on deadline, right?

Keep these conversations off the record. Get to know one another. You can also talk about expectations for the beat, such as best times to speak with players before or after practices, and schedule a weekly meeting for a time to catch up, ask questions about upcoming stories – and even to allow coaches to grieve about coverage (which should be keep off the record).

Or, you can start just by popping in to the office, saying hello, and requesting a time to speak later. Ultimately, this helps both sides see one another as someone other than ‘the coach,’ ‘the reporter,’ or ‘the SID’ – a perspective that should prove helpful to all.


The Southeastern Conference’s folly

August 25, 2009

Used to be that sports leagues and franchises sought as much publicity as possible, sometimes even begging media to cover anything. Leagues like major league soccer, arena football (R.I.P.), and National Pro Fastpitch softball would love the Southeastern Conference’s ‘problem.’

Yet, now the larger leagues, such as the SEC and the NFL, are trying to limit coverage. Does the word ‘ubiquity’ mean anything to these folks? How about ‘stupidity‘? “Idiotic?” “Clueless?”These leagues should be reveling in the exposure to their football programs, not finding ways to limit coverage. They should be excited that people want to take audio, blog, shoot video, tweet, write, talk – hell, do anything in relation to their league.

Hey, Mike Slive: Relax, Mr. Commish. Why start a fight with those who only seek to cover (and promote) the Southeastern Conference – and for friggin’ free. This is a GOOD thing, not something to worry about like making payroll or covering up a recruiting violation. Sheesh.

I guess now this frees up reporters who ordinarily would be walking around practice fields and press boxes to start heading over to the library to review public documents and to talk with boosters and administrators so they can scrutinize budgets, NCAA compliance forms, and then, perhaps, to talk with academic counselors and opposing coaches. Yeah, that’s a smarter move for the SEC (or any other league.)


First Publication Complete!

August 24, 2009

As you all know, I’m Elizabeth Johnson, Sports Editor for The Murray State News. Our first publication went out on Friday, and believe me, it was stressful. But honestly, there’s nothing better than seeing your hard work in the hands of your reading audience.

At Murray State, we are implementing a new system in which each section has a designer and editor. This is taking a lot of adapting from last year where the editors did their own layout. In a way, it’s nice, but it’s still a work in progress. Unfortunately, with delay of our ads department, I pulled my first of many all-nighters this academic year.

But for the most part, the first issue couldn’t have gone any better. It’s so amazing to me how things can fall into place. I started the year with two other writers and myself. Now, I have two contributing writers which means I’m not writing half the section.

We’ll see how this next week goes. It’s been hard brainstorming story ideas, but unavoidable since none of our seasons have gotten underway. This week, the sports section will include feature stories, which can be fun, but can be difficult when writers are so used to a clean cut-and-dry recap and preview each week. Things are coming together though, and in time certain things will become easier and others harder. But there’s nothing I’d rather be doing that covering our athletic programs.

Feel free to check out our online edition of The Murray State News at

College sports journalists will share their experiences

August 24, 2009

Elizabeth Johnson/Murray State

Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth Johnson, a sophomore journalism major at Murray State, will discuss her challenges as a sports editor for her college newspaper, the Murray State News, this semester.

Elizabeth is one of several college sports journalists sharing their experiences working the beats this fall and winter. Two other sports journalists will be announced later this week.

Elizabeth has already covered several sports beats, including football, soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball, track, cross country, golf and tennis.

This blog, as many of you know, is most active during the college academic year when sports editors and reporters have the most questions. This fall I will offer a weekly review of the best in college sports journalism, along with more tips and suggestions. But also check in for additional suggestions from college sports journalists working the beats, like Elizabeth.

Welcome back.