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Getting down to the end

Fulton wrestling family gives everyone chance to compete

This was my most unusual reporting experience of the semester. Not only was I taking pictures for the article, I worked one-on-one with Harry Plumer to write it.

Harry got the story idea after getting a tip on this family from someone who called the sports desk. Earlier we had decided to collaborate on our multimedia project, and we agreed this would be a good story to do it on.

After running into troubles taking photos of the Hickman girls basketball team doing yoga, I made sure to consult people in the photo bubble to make sure I knew how to best use the camera. I feel that consultation paid off in the quality of the photos.

In addition to the photography, I thought we had a quirky story about this family, and I enjoyed working with Harry on it.

I can’t help but think I’d like to take photos in the future for the Missourian.

Missouri gymnastics team sees influx of freshmen

Covering the exhibition Black and Gold Meet, it was obvious I wouldn’t write about the competition. It didn’t take long for me to find my story idea. The number of freshmen on the team’s roster popped out at me, and all I needed to do was find a way to draw readers into the story.

I was pleased with my lede because it effectively set the scene before the meet. As soon as the public address announcer said “That was then, this is now”, I knew I had the start of my story. I was pleased with how the rest of the story turned out, as well.

A handful of stories

Apologies for the gap in posts. Thanksgiving break and the craziness of the end of the semester have kept me busy. I’ll start with my three stories from the past week, and then talk about clips from before the break.

Freshman uses height to help Rock Bridge girls’ basketball team

Corpening leads Hickman girls basketball to victory over Helias

Sophomore makes impact on return to Hickman girls basketball team

I’m going to lump these three stories together because they are all event coverage.

With all three of these stories I took the approach of finding a specific player to feature. I had a good idea of who I wanted to write about before the Hickman games, but I had to develop my Rock Bridge story as the game was going on.

In each case I worked on bringing the reader to the game through description. I also limited game description to a paragraph or two–something I needed to do in my event coverage.

Grant and I spoke about getting details into my story that someone who was at the game wouldn’t know. It’s definitely something I’m missing in my event coverage, and an aspect of my reporting I need to work on.

Hickman girls basketball benefits from using shooting aid

This story came about after Amy Backes and I met with coach Mirts to introduce ourselves and talk about the team. During that conversation she mentioned how the team used the Gun Machine during the offseason. Pairing that with the team’s desire for more scorers, I thought it would make a good feature story before the season started.

One wish I couldn’t fulfill was observing the team using the Gun Machine. At the time they were focusing on learning the playbook and putting less emphasis on individual shooting.

Cunningham brings strong defense to Rock Bridge girls basketball team

I enjoyed writing this story a lot. In it I was able to get creative with description and use language I haven’t used at the Missourian this semester. I felt I could really present her style of play in a unique way.

The description of Cunningham’s style was due to me observing a practice earlier in the week. During it I filled in four pages of notes in my notebook. Going off of that, I was able to get perspective on Cunningham from her coach and a teammate.

I also felt good about this story because Grant had to cut some description out of it. For once, I was “showing, not telling” too much. I’d rather have that problem than not “showing” enough.

This week saw the end of the MU soccer season with a loss to Nebraska in the Big 12 Tournament. I wrote a couple stories on the team (listed below) and I plan on keeping my eye on the Tigers in case anything newsworthy happens in the offseason.

MU soccer team ends season of adjustments

This article turned out rough. I struggled to find an angle and things were made worse by the fact I was doing phone interviews. It was great to get an article about the game with quotes, but I struggled to make the article noteworthy.

This went down as a lesson in the importance of finding a solid angle for a story. Without one, a story will suffer.

Kruse sets down for Missouri soccer team’s tough defense

I was pleased with how this story turned out. In Kruse’s scar, I found something I could describe in detail and also an anecdote with which I could begin and end the story.

Once again, I feel my next step is developing my stories to be longer.

————–

The same afternoon the MU soccer season ended I received my new beat: Hickman and Rock Bridge girls basketball. Their seasons don’t begin until the end of November, so I will use the opportunity to dig up some feature stories.

Also, during my G.A. shift Thursday night I picked up an opportunity to do some freelance work. The Southeast Missourian needed someone to cover the Missouri state high school cross country meet, so I was asked to fill in and I jumped on the opportunity.

I wanted to use the experience to display the skills I’ve honed while at the Missourian so far this semester. Overall, I was pleased with what I wrote. You can read my stories here, here, here and here.

Following up

Reserve goalkeeper boosts Missouri soccer team

As the MU soccer team’s regular season ends and the postseason is about to fire up, I’m looking to get my last features stories in the can.

This story idea was inspired by Ben Frederick’s story from August. Paula Pritzen’s path to Missouri is an interesting one, and I thought it would be good to follow up a couple months later to see how she is doing in the new environment.

I felt I did what I could with this story by focusing on getting as much information possible about her experience transitioning to a new school and a new role.

Through doing these feature stories I feel I am sharpening my interviewing skills and building upon lessons learned in writing previous articles. The results of plugging away week after week is starting to show.

Getting into a new game

Missouri soccer team: ready, set…dodgeball?

Earlier this season I stumbled upon a Twitpic of the MU soccer team playing dodgeball before a road game. After getting some basic info from the team’s SID I decided to go ahead and write a feature on the topic.

The story features some good quotes and I believe the quirkiness of the story topic led to that outcome. In my experience I’ve found athletes to be almost relieved to talk about things other than x’s and o’s. You can tell that they were excited to talk about the games of dodgeball and I especially liked Kendra Collins’ analysis of her teammates throwing arms.

The bottom line with this story was that it was fun to write. It didn’t feel like anything I had written for the Missourian previously, which is a great sign. If I can recreate that feeling with regularity I’ll be headed in the right direction.

This weekend saw the conclusion of Missouri soccer’s home schedule. Here are my two articles:

Gwin keeps Tigers close in loss to Texas

I was very pleased with how this turned out because I was able to find an angle and stay away from merely repeating what happened in the game.

Featurizing Gwin’s performance that night and what she has done so far this season was a step forward in my event coverage. I also was happy with the amount of description I put in the story. Apart from telling the reader how Gwin performed, I felt I showed them through descriptive writing.

MU soccer takes positives from loss to Aggies

I had trouble coming up with an angle for this story and it suffered greatly because of that. Though I found what I needed for a featurized story Friday night, I just couldn’t repeat the process Sunday for whatever reason. The story ended up with too much game action and lacked anything unique.

Definitely have a bitter taste in my mouth after that one.

Coaching job keeps former MU soccer player involved in sport

This article was a step in the right direction regarding my interviewing techniques. I really took to heart the conversations I’ve had with Grant about interviewing and I feel the progress I made shows in this article. By focusing on conversing with my interview subjects instead of just going back-and-forth in a stiff, uncomfortable exchange, I felt I got more details to develop this story.

As for what I can work on next time, Grant mentioned the importance of the “so what?” element of articles. Why do readers care? What makes this story unique?

As I continue searching for feature story ideas, that is something I will have first and foremost in my mind.

Hickman soccer outlasts Troy Buchanan in penalty kicks

This game went down to the wire and exercised my skills in finding an angle. After each scoreless period I had to adjust and refocus on what I wanted to write about. Finally, with the conclusion of the penalty kicks, I knew I wanted to focus on the goalkeeper who stopped two shots in the pk’s.

I didn’t do a good job of going beyond his performance in goal and getting into his personality and what makes him who he is as a player. Grant also mentioned the importance of describing the game for people who weren’t there, and that means getting into the nitty-gritty details.

These were two points I will remember when I go out to cover my next event.