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Sports coverage must emphasize local angle

July 5, 2010

By Alex Iniguez

Think local. That’s the message that Kevin Winters Morris, sports editor of the Southeast Missourian in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Jim Ruppert, sports editor of The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill. instilled in the minds of attendees of the MPI “Covering Sports in a 24/7 World” workshop in St. Louis.

With the current state of the journalism industry, the distance some newspapers can send reporters has shrunk, leaving papers focusing on local sports news.

“Local is the only way we can go,” Ruppert said.

Ruppert and Morris said that, besides the obvious fact that their newspaper readers are more interested in something that happens within a range of 20 miles, their readers also reach out and give thanks to their newspapers for covering topics that really matter to them.

One major shift noted by both Ruppert and Morris is that covering a game with just a pen and a notepad is not enough anymore. With the state of the Web, audio, video and still images are vital. Words are not enough. Reporters no longer go to a game and scratch down some quotes on a notepad and insert them into a print story. Instead, they bring cameras, audio recorders and flip video cameras.

Video cameras bring the unique problem of unnatural interviews. Unfortunately, many high school students (or younger) have never done an interview on camera, leaving sometimes unsavory interviews for writers to use.

With all the problems with the industry, Ruppert and Morris have found the formula to engage with readers, provide in-depth coverage and maintain a quality publication – start local.

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