Tuesday, February 3, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Sports Rookie

Photo Courtesy of OhioBobcats.com

By Drew Schaar

This past weekend I covered my first ever sports story. I had no interest in covering sports and never took the initiative to do so. I have always covered hard news or feature stories. This quarter for the Athens MidDay class, we are scheduled for different jobs each week. Over the weekend, I happened to be the sports reporter. I decided to cover the Ohio University Women’s Swimming and Diving Team’s last home meet of the season. Swimming, like most other sports, is an area that I know virtually nothing about. I can swim, yes, but that is about it.

The Process
I decided it was important to cover this particular sporting event because on television it seems like the only sports that get attention are: 1) men’s sports, 2) basketball, or 3) football. Rarely do you see coverage about a swim meet, especially on a commercial television station. Therefore, I decided I would switch things up for my assignment over the weekend. The meet was a double meet, which means the team hosted competitions on back-to-back days. It was also parents and friends weekend for the women’s last home game of the season. I thought this was of particular interest and importance, so I gave it a shot.

As I researched who to interviews for the story, I became very nervous. I had never covered a sporting event before. I had no idea what to do or how to do it. I quickly asked some of my friends and colleagues how they have gone about their sports coverage in the past and got some quick tips. Some of them are sports fanatics and have a real understanding of how to cover them, etc. After a crash course on whom to interview, what to ask, and how to go about formulating the story I made some phone calls.

The media contact for the Ohio University Women’s Swimming and Diving team is a great person. He was very accommodating and gave me some tips on which player I should interview and even commented on what reporters had done in the past. I was more than glad to glean this information from him. Moreover, he was extremely good at his job of a media contact. He basically did all of the set-ups for me. I just had to be there.

Shooting Video
Next came the shooting video aspect of the assignment. I had heard fellow
reporters mention how difficult it is to shoot sports because of one thing: movement. For all news stories we shoot, we use a tripod that anchors our camera to one fixed point, and we’re taught not to move it while recording video.

In the news world, camera moves such as pans and zooms are frowned upon. However, when you shoot sports, this is all you can do to capture and follow the action. It took some real getting used to on my part as I experimented moving the camera around, panning, and zooming. I still used a tripod to level and balance my shots, but I had to manually zoom and pan using the controls available to me. I’m not sure how great of a job I did, but I tried really hard.

The items I have mentioned are the big differences between sports journalism and news. After branching out and covering sports, I will admit it was definitely a challenge. It is something I am glad I can say I did. However, it isn’t really an experience I would like to repeat. I think I do a much better job at being a news reporter and not a sports reporter. In the end, it was a challenge that I feel I handled well. It is an experience I can have and say I did. I think everything came out well in the end.

Drew's first television sports story

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