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AP reporter: Sports reporting should represent both sides

July 1, 2011

R.B. Fallstrom, AP sports reporter

By Bill Welt
Western Illinois University 

Associated Press sports writer R.B. Fallstrom of St. Louis discussed the inner-workings of the AP in his Monday, June 27 session, “What’s New at AP.”

He mentioned how AP implemented a new strategy with “hometown leads.”

Hometown leads are optional leads that provide an away team’s point of view. They are useful for newspaper companies that can’t afford to send beat writers to away games.

For example, Fallstrom, a St. Louis Cardinals and Rams beat writer, provided an optional lead for Toronto area newspapers in Sunday’s St. Louis-Toronto baseball game.

“When I write my stories I try to create a good representation for both teams, even if it’s a blowout,” Fallstrom said.

He also provided tips for student writers. He stressed preparation and research before the game so that he/she will have a good story by the game’s end.

“The best thing you can do is homework, homework,” he said. “Know your stuff beforehand so you’re prepared.”

Fallstrom also talked about following Twitter. He said the downside of Twitter is that players only report “happy, happy stuff.”

He referred to Rams’ running back Stephen Jackson. Fallstrom said Jackson did not say anything on Twitter for over six months after his former girlfriend accused him of assault in 2010.

Fallstrom also talked about his experience interviewing players and coaches from the St. Louis Cardinals.
He said outfielder Matt Holliday is the toughest player for him to interview, and added manager Tony La Russa can be challenging at times.

Fallstrom offered advice to student writers about interviewing players and coaches as well.

He said student writers should have nothing to fear when it comes to player and coach tirades against reporters.

“I’ve been the object of tirades. They’re kind of fun actually,” he said. “Nobody should have anything to fear. Nothing ever happens. If it does, you’re a rich man.”

He added they’ll respect the reporter afterwards as long as he/she doesn’t have an agenda against them.
“They’ll respect you afterwards, as long as you’re not trying to paint a broad picture that isn’t true.”

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