Throughout the semester, I must write a weekly post for credit in my Editing and Production class. Certain redundancies may occur in these “4806 Updates”
This week I learned an especially interesting lesson in the beat meeting: even behind closed doors, among your peers, follow all those same journalistic rules.
Specifically, avoid clichés like the plague.
Responding to a question from Baritone Bowers about his story, Reporter A said “I was sitting at the game and it hit me like a ton of bricks—“
“Whoa,” Bowers reverberated, “come on you can do better than that. Hit me like a ton of bricks, that’s kind of a cliché. Actually that IS a cliché.”
Punch line established. The editors and the AP intern threw out at least five (I want to say six, but if counting were my specialty, I would not be a journalist) more references to “a ton of bricks” before the beat meeting ended.
I always assumed journalists spoke colloquially among one another. Turns out we are the same ravaging entities with or without a notepad or microphone. Or in my case, my laptop (read: security blanket).
Away from my fear of being mocked, the editors touched on something far more relevant.
The Missourian’s coverage of last week’s Missouri-McNeese State football game was a little shaky. Unproven running backs “established” themselves, the defense received a “shut down D” label, all because they performed well against a school from Louisiana whose football team has the scholarship backing of a private high school.
As a sports journalist, do we have an obligation to tell our readers “this is not going to be a good game?” Or do we treat it like a “real” game? Is that being dishonest?
My dream, and I concede most people would probably call it a goal, is to work for the Denver Broncos website. So this is probably not an issue I would encounter too often. In Missouri, though, the team always begins the season against cupcakes and usually blow them out. In the past two years:
against McNeese State: 50-6
against Furman: 52-21
After these games, some reporters make the error of lauding, say, a running back who rushed for 100+ yards against schools whose names most of us don’t recognize. This year, they praised Missouri’s “shut down” defense for only allowing a touchdown to the McNeese State Cowboys.
The lesson Bowers had for us: “We have to indicate in a strong way this is not a real football game. We can tell people this is a mismatch. Last week, our pre coverage didn’t really let that be known.
“The one thing that wasn’t interesting about Saturday WAS the game. As journalists, we put things in perspective.”
I grew up reading the sports page religiously. Hearing this from an award winning sports journalist felt right. How many of us have complained at one point or another about sensationalism in sports journalism? ESPN thrives on it. Local journalists fall into that trap constantly because, let’s be honest, very few people care about these games and that makes them difficult to cover.
In other news, I finished my first sports flash graphic. Pending my meeting with our graphic specialist, it will be up and ready to go.
Tonight they have asked me to cover the clean up of the stadium. I guess we all have to start somewhere…