Thursday, September 18, 2014
Friday night ‘tweeting’
My sideline routine, which started about 35 years ago, has changed.
I’ve added Twitter to my note-taking and photography.
This old-school guy was taught the ropes on how to cover a high school football game for a community newspaper by longtime friend Les Walters, the best man in my wedding 25 years back.
Les had moved to Hamilton, Ala., to lead a start-up newspaper, the Hamilton Progress, and go head-to-head with another weekly already in the city/county.
I was a high school senior, not sure what I was going to do the rest of my life, but considering a career in journalism after taking on the task of editor of my high school newspaper.
I’d never taken action photos with a 35mm camera. I’d never taken notes and turned those into a game story.
I was green, real green, when it came to actual newspapering.
But the next football season, by the time I was in junior college, Les had tutored me. That basically means he’d given me a few pointers, but more importantly he just put a camera and a “Reporter’s Notebook” in my hands and told me which game to cover.
I still take notes at the games the way Les taught me.
I write down every play – what number carried the ball, how far was the run, and so forth and so on.
Back then, he even taught me how to figure the teams’ statistics from my notes.
Just last week, I had to leave a game a little early and I asked my daughter Emma to take notes the second half. I showed her mine from the first half. She was totally confused. It’s almost a form of shorthand that no one else can understand.
I discovered that writing a game story from those notes was actually pretty easy. Those notes have helped me give high school football teams the coverage they deserve – from Marion County, Ala., to Mississippi counties of Itawamba, Monroe, Jones and Marshall.
And in all of those scenarios, my procedure has pretty much stayed the same.
I did make the switch about 15 years ago to digital photography rather than film. And that was wonderful.
Most newspapers, like The South Reporter, still have their darkrooms, but they’re just used for storage or whatever.
I can shoot 100 photos at a game, go to the office and quickly download them and pick out the best ones.
With film, it wasn’t nearly that easy.
Then this season, the sideline routine has changed a bit for this 53-year-old journalist, who is still trying to get a grasp for social media.
While taking notes and snapping photos, I also have my cell phone handy so I can “tweet” score updates via Twitter – @SouthReporter.
With my camera strapped around my neck, I get ready for the next play. Then when the play ends, I take notes. And somewhere in between, after scores or at the end of each quarter, I do my “tweeting.”
Lots of others are assisting in the note-taking, photography and “tweeting” process, including Ronnie Day, Kerry Reid, Kristi Reid, Claude Vinson, Willie Ann Shelton, DeMill Dixon, Colet Pierce, school administrators, coaches and others.
Our staff is small, but our expanded staff forms a team that pulls together stories, photos and even “tweets” as we strive to provide the coverage the kids deserve.
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