Wick Communications

Make sports your toy department

In Ideas on 11 Apr 2014 at 8:52 am
What if you gave everyone on the high school baseball team your camera so they could take a selfie? What could you do with those photos?

What if you gave everyone on the high school baseball team your camera so they could take a selfie? What could you do with those photos?

I was interested to see what came out of a confab of sports reporters and editors at a New York meeting of the Online News Association. If this roundup is any indication, I’m a little disappointed.

Participants in the panel included folks from the New York Times, SB Nation and other digital concerns. They discussed the magnificent Snow Fall production that should win a Pulitzer, Oscar and a Tony award. It’s that cool. It’s also that far from something we can do by ourselves at the moment. It’s important to think big, but it’s also important to think doable.

The gathering did produce some important, small things, that we can all do. One of them is a reminder to read your edited product. Ask editors why they made the changes they made. Learn from the experience. They suggest we engage readers and not talk down to commenters. Those are good points.

When I worked in sports, we openly acknowledged that it was the toy department of the newspaper. No one ever died at a volleyball game I covered. Your tax bill didn’t hang in the balance of that Friday night football tilt. Sports are meant to be fun so we should have fun with our sports coverage and experiment a little. Here are some ideas: …

  • Start a niche website, devoted to a single season. Say you hear that a high school football team in your market is going to be special next year. Start now developing a free WordPress blog for that team – or maybe for all the local teams over that season. Assemble rosters and headshots. Ask coaches if they will contribute posts now and again. Start conversations. Tweet links to this new creation. Talk it up. You might even seek a sponsor.
  • Do something different with Twitter. Sports editors in our company are at the forefront of our tweeting. But you can do more than live tweet scores through the game. Tweet photos from the game. Note injuries. Tell us what the crowd is like. Sports scores are less interesting than the people who play the game.
  • On Facebook, post five positive moments from the week’s sports events. I certainly prefer that they be local, but I suppose they don’t have to be. The coach and his son sharing a hug after the big game… the mother who makes sure to bring snacks to the Little League game… the kid who never plays, getting an inside-the-park homer…Post a photo. Tell readers what happened and then see what happens to your page.
  • Cover a high school baseball game entirely on Instagram. Then tease to it in the newspaper. Maybe it doesn’t have any traction. But high schoolers are on Instagram, perhaps more than any social media you’re using. You might be surprised by the feedback.

Just do something different. Do it because it’s fun for you as well as your readers.




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