Gulp, sports coverage

Coming in to newspaper ownership and the publisher role, one of the most intimidating things to me was, and is, sports coverage.

I’m not someone who has ever spent much time playing, reading about or following high schools sports, let alone providing any kind of leadership around how to cover them in a journalistic context.

When people are talking about the big game from the day before, I’m the one who nods along and mumbles things like “how about that!” and hopes no one asks me who I was rooting for — or what sport we’re talking about.

At the newspaper, it seemed like an area full of potential for me to feel lost and make mistakes.

I made that concern known to my staff early on, and asked for their help. They were gracious about it, and our sports reporter, Dan, has been especially patient and understanding as we navigated this new reality together.

I try to let him do what he does best, while still bringing what I can to make the sports pages (and, starting recently, our online presentation of those stories) the best they can be. There are plenty of times where I do feel lost — the AP style guidelines for sports coverage alone on top of the terminology that goes with each sport feels like it will take me a lifetime to internalize — but I think we’re making it work just fine and learning some things from each other.

At the same time, I’ve been surprised and heartened by how much the newspaper’s sports coverage means to the community. Many people already know the outcomes of the games themselves by the time the paper reaches them, but they still read to see their kids` names and photos in print, to get Dan’s unique flavor of commentary, and to follow the stories of struggle and success that the teams face over the course of a season or a player’s high school career. It’s a celebration of effort, ability and accomplishment, and it’s been an honor to be a part of.

This week, as a part of reminding ourselves and our readers about the value of a subscription or the price of the paper at the newsstand, we’re running this graphic celebrating Dan’s work:

An image showing a photo of WWN sports reporter Dan Harney alongside various numbers of interest related to the paper's sports coverage, including 215 total sports stories that have appeared in the past 5 WWN issues, 53 sports stories appearing in the May 3 issue alone, 43 average sports stories appearing in the past 5 weeks in the WWN, 6 Wayne County high schools covered by the WWN, 5 WWN pages regularly devoted to spring sports coverage, and 1 reporter, Dan.

Chris Hardie is a journalist, newspaper publisher, software developer and entrepreneur based in Indiana, USA. Read more from Chris on this site, learn more on his personal website, subscribe for updates or follow Chris on Mastodon.

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