Saturday, February 2, 2008

Covering baseball in a major market

Let me introduce myself first. My name is Jeremy Cothran and I'm a former student in several of Steve's classes at George Mason University.

Like my former colleague B.J. Koubaroulis, I was also the sports editor of the Broadside. I graduated in 2005 and currently work at The Star-Ledger, which is based in Newark, N.J., and is one of the largest daily newspapers in the country. I'm the beat writer for the New York Mets, a team most of you know just pulled off a major trade in acquiring Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins.

Covering sports in New York City is a different animal than anywhere else in the country. But it's especially crazy with baseball. On my beat alone, I compete with six other major metro papers and a reporter from MLB.com. Compare that with, say, the Washington Nationals. There you only have the Washington Post and the Washington Times as papers that travel full-time with the club.

What will get you in trouble in a market like New York is to be content with the status quo. I'm always searching for great story ideas, ways to improve our paper's Mets blog, and ways that I can improve my source-building. If you follow a pack-journalism mentality, writing what everybody else is writing, you'll end up with bland stories.

Going back to the Santana trade, it was a story that consumed our market. And that's even with a good chunk of the media at the Super Bowl. Our paper alone has 14 people (eight reporters, six photographers) in Phoenix right now.

Working on a major baseball story like that, you're not going to get any information at all from team officials. In fact, if you're the type of person that waits for news releases to write stories, you are in the wrong business. So you work the Blackberry, calling and e-mailing all the sources you've cultivated over time. (Another tip for future beat reporters: Develop a confident persona over the phone!)

I'm glad Steve gave me this forum to share some stories about covering baseball. If anybody ever needs advice or has a question, feel free to email me: jeremyc28@gmail.com.

1 comment:

BJ Koubaroulis said...

Students,

Please take the time to read Jeremy's work...Some key notes from his BLOG post. Jeremy has a proven ability to find interesting stories off the beaten path and bring them to life through great featurized work...Also, his Mets blog is an element that I believe more media outlets should be mimicking...