Blogs > The Back Page

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

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hope you enjoyed the World Cup coverage

Well, the World Cup isn't officially over, but in the minds of many Americans, it might as well be. This is likely to be the last day you see as much as a half of a page of coverage in The Oakland Press, and likely others. Without the U.S. being involved, it's a hard sell, especially for ESPN, which has been ramming this event down our throats for the past six months. I'll be interested in seeing what the domestic viewership numbers end up being now that Team USA is headed home.
On another note, front-page headline "Johnny on the spot," was written about Johnny Damon well before he watched strike three's phantom path over the outside corner of the plate. We in the office all thought he would come through, and technically, he would have, since he should have earned himself a walk, which would have forced in the tying run.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Watch what you say

If you write a bad headline, usually the only person you have to hear from is your editor and maybe his or her boss. A recent headline in a Detroit-area newspaper forced Lions head coach Jim Schwartz to answer to the NFL regarding the team's offseason workouts.
The league sequestered video of the Lions' workout from May 18 and deemed the practice "too intense" for OTAs.
“They actually saw a headline in one of our newspapers that said, ‘Suh and Peterman battle it out in OTAs.’ They flagged that and said they wanted to see the practice film. I assume they were looking for one-on-ones which you’re not allowed to do with the offensive and defensive linemen which we weren’t doing,’’ Lions coach Jim Schwartz said after Wednesday’s morning minicamp session.
The Oakland Press headline the day in question was simply "Vets show rookies the ropes." So I don't think it was our headline that caught the league's eyes.
Schwartz's handling even spurred debate about his decision seemingly to take the media to task just one week after MSU coach Tom Izzo spent a portion of his "I'm staying here forever" press conference booing the scribes.
When the Lakers won the NBA title a week ago, the L.A. Times suffered production problems, which caused delivery delays, and in some cases, no delivery. The Times punished a pressroom blogger who documented the paper's production difficulties.
Just when I thought I'd heard all the possible ways to get reprimanded on the copy desk, this is certainly a new one. It just goes to show you that somebody is always watching, or reading.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Who could have planned for three state champs?!

The original plan for Sunday's front page was to have just one girls soccer game on the front. We were thinking we'd be fortunate to have one, maybe two of the local teams competing for girls soccer championships actually pull of a title.
Well, as you might have noticed this morning, all three teams: Novi in Division 1, Birmingham Marian in Division 2 and Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes/Everest Academy in Division 4, won championships in their respective positions. It would have been pretty awkward to bump one team to the inside pages after coming up a with a state title, and that is why you have the front page that went to press.
It would have been nice if Lakeland had pulled off its first title, but I'll settle for the three-peat.
Notes: The first edition didn't have the results of the Tigers game, as their contest ran up against deadline for seemingly the 20th time this season. Also, the players at the U.S. Open seem to take their sweet time, too, as the third round of play wasn't finished even an hour after first deadline.
We tried really hard to get a classic photo of Manute Bol in his playing days worked into the section, but The Associated Press was pretty stingy with its shared content, so instead, you'll see a grip-and-grin of Manute and some event he was a part of following his playing career.
And the talk about Tom Izzo just will not cease, as we pulled a column from our sister paper in Ohio, The Lorain Morning-Journal and sports editor Jeff Kuehn's weekly feedback column was flooded with Izzo sentiments.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Ben Franklin experiment

If you haven't heard by now, the July 4 edition of The Oakland Press will be produced in its entity with software found for free (freeware) on the Internet as part of the Ben Franklin Project. The project is an initiative company-wide instituted by CEO John Paton. All daily papers within the Journal Register Company chain will be producing editions with similar prerequisites.
You may have seen our first sports page produced with our freeware design program, Scribus. In Thursday's edition, we designed the outdoors page with the new software. There were some bumps, but all in all, the page which resulted is very similar to the one we typically produce, though there are subtle differences. The real challenge for us will be getting all of our paginators up to speed in time for the big day (July 3).
The other programs we will be using include Google Docs and Open Office, for word processing; Gimp, for photo editing; and Gmail for e-mail services that day.
Also, columnist Pat Caputo and Lions beat writer Paula Pasche are combing our audience for suggestions for crowdsourced stories, another fundamental part of the project where story ideas and sources are derived from tips from the community or audience.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Galarraga makes for a perfect front-page switch

He got robbed.
Galarobbed, as we said.
It was an imperfect game, what a shame. A game that almost didn’t happen thanks to the rain.
We were monitoring the game around the sixth inning, once we found on Twitter Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga had a no-hitter going. We knew going into the ninth we were going to have to change the front page. It sounds like a hassle, but it was one of those exciting moments in journalism when you know what you’re doing is a significant part of history.
The first version of the front page featured a story about Auburn Hills Avondale pitcher Katie Moy, who is shepherding the Yellow Jackets into this week’s district playoffs. A feature I’m proud to say I wrote, which we slid to the side for the second version.
All the Tweets of the day were related to the Tigers game and I heard four of the top 10 trending topics on Twitter were related to the game. I followed it personally for several hours. It was plenty entertaining, and it even helped me to write the headline “Galarobbed.”
Originally, we had a column written by Jim Hawkins because the Tigers weren’t getting the most out of owner Mike Ilitch’s investment. We'll see if that column isn't revised before it runs.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Make your own Stanley Cup

For the first time in three years, their is no chance the Red Wings will hoist the Stanley Cup. But it's only been two years since they last won, much longer than the streak the Chicago Blackhawks still have going — since 1961.
The Red Wings' Stanley Cup drought breaker in 1997 left Chicago, a fellow Original-Six'er, with the longest Cup-less streak. Well, it looks as if the Blackhawks have a very good chance to finally win the Cup this season, up 2-0 over the miracle comeback Philadelphia Flyers.
The page designers over at the Chicago Tribune published a DIY Stanley Cup kit which only involves paper, scissors and tape.
It's unclear if you can order a back issue of the Tribune in order to construct the Cup, but it would be something fun to run the next time the Wings are in Cup contention.