Blogs > The Back Page

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

Friday, April 16, 2010

Time lapse design

Here are a series of front pages replicated to resemble what I was working with last Wednesday, when the Tigers, Pistons and Red Wings were all playing on deadline. That was one of the more difficult nights to deal with deadline I can ever remember, because each game got done within the last one and a half of deadline that night.
The first page shows that we had to have a 'plug' story for the Tigers game, their second game of the season in Kansas City, an 8 p.m. start on a night with an early deadline.
So, the plug story was a nothing filler about David Ortiz remaining in the Boston lineup a day after blowing up on his team. I really didn't anticipate having to actually run the Red Sox story, but I had to have something in place to cover myself (because you can't send out a blank page after all). A game box with a Web refer was left in the Ortiz story to send our readers to our Web site for the Tigers results.
The second version has the Red Wings photo, because hockey is a relatively quick sport, as well as Pat Caputo's column about the team's chances in the playoffs.
In the third frame, you'll notice the Pistons game story came in from The Palace, as did the Red Wings story from Joe Louis Arena. The only hitch? The Tigers game had just headed for extras.
And there you have our first edition paper, complete with a Boston Red Sox story front and center.
After a short period of printing, the press room stops at a particular time in their press run and 'replates' with updated pages. Fortunately, we then had enough time to get in a Tigers story, after they blew the game they had in hand in the top of the 11th. But for all of our stat junkies, there was a problem with STATS LLC., which produces the box scores for The Associated Press, the same box scores we run on the inside pages, so there wasn't one added.
And that my friends is the evolution of a sports page. Hope you enjoyed our time together learning about the miracle of page production.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's award season

We at The Oakland Press did well at the Society of Professional Journalists Detroit Chapter awards Wednesday night, as Matt Mowery and I took home awards for page design and Mowery for his headline writing. Judges sited the following about his winning headline “Pitt to be Tied.”

"Headline puns are great fun — if they work. These work extremely well. They're clever, match the boldness of the story's action and have great punch."

That headline of course was following the Red Wings' Game 4 loss of the Stanley Cup Finals last season, their second straight loss and a precursor to the remainder of the series.
Attached are front pages, "Dance Partners," for which I was awarded a third-place finish in sports design (I still don't know if that was the submission they chose because they don't go in depth about second- and third-place finshers), and "Much Bigger Upside on Defense," Mowery's winner.
For "Upside," the judges said:

"Good color, b/w contrast on the lead image. The whole spread has a balanced feel."

Lions beat writer Paula Pasche took home first place for feature writing for "Foote Providing Father Figure."
Columnist Pat Caputo, sports editor Jeff Kuehn and Pasche went 1-2-3 in column writing, Caputo winning for "Fans Don't Forget," a critique of the hiring of unpopular former Lions coach Matt Millen as an analyst for the NFL Network.

Wrap section follow up

Just to clarify, I had posted the image of the Tigers wrap cover as a photo on our Web site, begging the question: Is that an advertisement? And no, I had a hard time finding the original photo, so I turned the cover into a jpg and loaded it that way.
There's a thin line between ads and editorial, but most are easy enough to decipher, this was not one of them, however.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Wrap your head around this

What's that wrapping around your sports section this morning? It's another Tigers preview, more brief than the one we rolled out in Sunday's edition, but if you missed the 10-page special section, this is for you.
A special column about slugger Miguel Cabrera by veteran writer Jim Hawkins, who's embarking on his 40th season on the beat, player capsules and a complete schedule. What a steal!
Be sure to read Hawkins' blog all season long, as well as columnist Pat Caputo, who regularly checks in on the Tigers.
Our special golf preview section premieres next week.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Butler stunner

My ears perked up the other night while watching one of my favorite programs, "30 Rock," that I had banked on demand, there is a scene where the main character is talking to his journo girlfriend who makes a comment something to the effect of "This is the 24/7 newscycle, we don't have time for fact-checking, get it out there!"
The satirical program is right on target, except they took aim at my profession. Even worse, I can't fully defend my field. That's becoming more true as the days, weeks and social networking sites pass.
The Web has created an immense rush to publish the news as soon as you get it. But just as easily as we can post the news, we can post a correction. That seems to be the mandate these days and it's concerning. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.
I handle it myself by posting tidbits on Twitter here and there during games, but it's difficult to double- and triple-check things while you're in a rush to beat the guy two seats away on press row.
The Indianapolis Star reportedly jumped the gun last night, calling Butler the victor of the NCAA tournament championship game. Unsure how that happened and I didn't witness it myself, but it doesn't even surprise me one bit.
It's a different landscape than even the one I was brought up in ... five years ago. Hopefully, we can all keep our credibility as we race for the scoop.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Leaking the Tigers preview

I just got done reading the 2010 Tigers season preview, and as usual, it's great. Ten pages of well-detailed Tigers copy written by veteran Jim Hawkins and designed by Matt Mowery, the section (D) will poke its head out in Sunday's edition. The pages have a season preview complete with player analysis, position-by-position breakdowns and a feature story on new Tiger Johnny Damon. There are also season predictions by division and a column by Pat Caputo on where the Tigers will land come October (it's hard to tell).

It's Ray's day

The original headline for Sunday's story was "Big game Ray." Good enough, but "Country Ray" says it all for Birmingham Detroit Country Day's eighth boys basketball championship. The headline was worked up by copy editor Matt Mowery.
Speaking of Ray McCallum Jr., did you catch him in the McDonald's All-America game the other night? I didn't get to watch much, but I did catch him in the slam-dunk competition. ESPN recruiting analyst John Stovall said McCallum was one of the most talented point guards in the country.
"McCallum is a really bouncy point guard with explosive ability," Stovall said.