SPJ 2020 Journalism Conference • Sept. 12-13, 2020



Hitting a home run with your sports coverage

By Billy O'Keefe

GERGANA BOBEVA / The Working Press
Paired for “The Sporting Life” session were Jim Welch, USA Today deputy managing editor for sports, and Mike Corey, the voice of the University of Delaware Blue Hens. Their suggestions for improving sports coverage:
1. Establish partnerships with sport organizations – you get more information for readers and your partners get more coverage. Partnerships should work for both sides and are generally a good way to collect information.
2. Know all the facts before writing a story. Don’t rush to cover the game before clarifying unclear information. If you have questions about a team’s tactics, ask the coaches. It may make sense under the circumstances.
3. Don’t fight citizen journalism. Information coming from blogs and social Web sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, may lead to big stories. Don’t trust everything you read, but consider it when thinking of story ideas.
4. Student reporters may find it challenging to obtain information. Don’t give up. Establish relationships with players, coaches and athletic directors and gain their respect even when you’re not working on a specific story.
5. Stay objective. Read the visitors’ responses to your company’s Web site, but don’t participate in the conversation.
Tips for Print Sports Journalists

1. Double-staff major events. Try to have a couple of reporters doing digital and traditional reporting at the game.
2. Do as much in-game work as possible. Think how you will structure your story while you’re still at the game. Use your time at the event responsibly.
3. Consider having a rewrite desk in the newsroom. Have a reporter follow the game on TV and keep up with online reports.
4. Think of unique angles for additional stories to make your publication attractive to readers who have already read the game coverage.
Tips for Broadcast Sports Journalists
1. During interviews, don’t pretend you know it all. Ask questions to help you and your audience understand the situation.
2. When broadcasting a game, be excited when both teams play well. Don’t be biased, not even when you know most listeners would support only one team. Cheering for both teams while broadcasting a sporting event is parallel to getting both sides of the story in news reporting.
3. Don’t be reluctant to go over questions with a player or a coach before an on-air interview.
4. Just as in news reporting, point out the relevance and importance of your sport stories for fans.




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