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Hummel: learn to utilize new tools to enhance writing, reporting on a beat

June 29, 2010

Rick Hummel Photo by Marlon Scott

By Caitlin Dolan

in a world where new technology is created everyday it’s important to go with the flow of the time and learn how to utilize those new tools to enhance your writing. That was the message from Rick Hummel, longtime baseball writer during the Mid-America Press Institute workshop on “Covering Sports in a 24/7 World”.

Hummel, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, shared his experiences in becoming a beat writer for the St. Louis Cardinals and provided some tips on how to succeed in a competitive world.

Beat writing can be a difficult task, constantly having to keep the same topic relevant and fresh. Hummel explained that in baseball, line-ups and pitchers are changing constantly and that keeps the content new and interesting. However, if you’re covering a losing team the reporters have to be a bit more creative.

When asked, what keeps him motivated as a beat writer, Hummel said, “Baseball is so enjoyable because I can’t think of two games that are remotely the same.”

Hummel encouraged students attending the conference to be interested in many things and do a lot of reading. Inspiring journalists should study other writers and their writing styles. He said “be true to yourself.”

He said that with baseball beats specifically, a writer has to acknowledge a player, whether he or she is performing good or bad. Forming those constant relationships will help when you have those important questions you need answered.

However, there is a fine line you have to walk when it comes to player/reporter relationships.

“You can be friends with a player but you shouldn’t be out with them socially until there career is over,” Hummel said.

Hummel would talk to the people no one else would and that, on some occasions, would set his story apart from the rest. He stressed that people shouldn’t ever take things personally. If people turn you down you can’t let it affect you, you just have to write what you see and things will fall in to place.

Hummel started off as a beat writer in high schools and then worked his way up. He originally wanted to be a broadcaster until his friend mentioned sports writing. From there he decided to go to school for journalism.

When he began writing, Hummel would write his stories longhand and have his mom type them out because he had not learned how to type.

After Hummel’s humorous stories and valuable tips, University of Eastern Kentucky senior Darren Zancan said “I thought it was very interesting to hear his experiences throughout his journalism career. He’s a good person to model yourself after in the journalism world.”

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