Blogs > The Back Page

The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Notice anything different on Mondays?

Have you noticed anything different about your Monday paper yet? No, it doesn’t have better headlines or photos than usual, but you might think the pictures look cleaner and the paper is smoother than normal. Why you ask? Because the Monday edition is actually being printed at our Macomb County plant in Mt. Clemens, home of The Macomb Daily.
There’s actually a very rigorous process we have to go through just to get the pages shipped to the Macomb servers before they can print, but it’s all worth it in the end.
The downside to this improvement is the fact that in order to get the pages to the printing plant in time to make their runs, we are forced to bump up our deadlines by a few hours. Doesn’t sound like much, and it hasn’t been too detrimental thus far, but it makes it a lot closer to deadline for things like 6 p.m. Pistons games, which you may have noticed wasn’t accompanied by any quotes in Monday’s edition.
Never fear, has all the updated stories and photos. So, enjoy your lighter, smoother Monday editions and let us know what you think of the new format.

Friday, March 26, 2010

When worlds collide

What a perfect “storm” of content today’s front page was. The Southfield and Country Day stories could only be better if they were playing each other today. A solid column by James Briggs, a.ka. ‘The New Web Guy,’ coupled with preview stories for both Southfield and Country Day and Kosmo on the inside — what a day.
And, as of 1:17 p.m. Friday when I’m writing this, we only have two “Country Day is the best because it’s a private school/they recruit” type responses to our story, so it’s been a good day on the comment moderation front. Good luck to both teams, as Southfield has already begun it’s semifinal and the Yellowjackets tip at 6 p.m. You can probably watch the games here if you’re fortunate enough to install plug-ins without having to go through your IT department.
What I wouldn’t be watching if I was in the office later would be the Red Wings game against the Wild, because it’s on FSN Plus. (If you have Comcast, it's probably channel 901 BTW). The TV in our department is not equipped with a cable box, so the folks on the copy desk aren't able to watch the game. It sounds like I'm getting annoyed by something petty, but it makes our job a lot easier to follow the play and have a good understanding of the circumstances when we write headlines and cutlines (captions) and during photo selection.
If Country Day makes the finals tomorrow night, that game will also be on FSN Plus at 8 p.m., replayed on FSN Detroit at 11 p.m. FSN Detroit will carry the three other state finals live throughout the day, however. The channel will instead be airing ... the Red Wings game.
Friday night's decision is quite surprising given the way the Wings have been playing of late, and especially because of the way the Pistons, who have been given the regular FSN broadcast, have not played well of late (the whole season). When I first caught wind of the channel conundrum, I figured it would work itself out and they would make the appropriate switch.
Also, if you’re completing your Pat Caputo scrapbook, his mugshot appeared a record-breaking three times on the front page today. Interesting note, I think the picture in the ad at the bottom of the page is actually reversed, because it’s the same picture used in the editorial content.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An apology for a headline?

I noticed something while I was sitting in Metro Airport waiting for my flight to Sioux Falls, S.D., for the Summit League Tournament earlier this month: The Detroit Free Press had written an explaination of a headline it used when the American women's hockey team took the silver at the Vancouver Games.
Freep sports editor Gene Myers actually had to explain a headline, “Second-rate performance: Harper Woods’ Ruggiero, Americans settle for silver because of the negative feedback. I've never seen something like that.

“ ‘Wrong words for medal moment’ In last Friday’s Free Press, a headline over a story about the U.S. women’s loss to Canada in the gold-medal hockey game missed the mark. Upset readers criticized us for suggesting that the Americans did not put forth their best effort. The editor who wrote the headline didn’t mean to imply that and regrets the wording. In the Sports Department, there’s a framed front-page poster with this headline: “As gold as it gets.” It celebrates the U.S. women’s victory over Canada for the 1998 gold medal in Olympic hockey. A photo shows defenseman Angela Ruggiero, then an 18-year-old from Harper Woods, skating with the flag. She and her teammates played as hard this time as they did then. — GENE MYERS, SPORTS EDITOR”

We've taken some heat for our headlines, but I don’t recall any apologies being printed. Maybe some were offered by our sports editor, Jeff Kuehn, who handles all reader inquiries with delicate precision.
Personally, I also don’t like the headline, but it’s not terrible. It’s definitely not bad enough for this treatment, and I can feel for the copy editor who wrote it.
The apology really surprised me and I hope we never have to go down that road, because when the pressure is on at the end of the night and you have to get the pages to the press, too often, there aren’t that many people to double-check and suggest alternate headlines. And if they do, there’s not always time to change them.