Monday, March 2, 2009

The USA Today way: 5 things

Our guests this week are Don Collins, a former assignment editor, and Julie Ward, the former deputy managing editor, of USA Today.

Don and Julie have had much to do with shaping sports coverage at USA Today and will have much to share with you -- Don on Tuesday March 3 and Julie on Thursday March 5.

Don Collins graduated from Western Kentucky University in 1976. After graduation, he worked at newspapers in Bowling Green, Ky., Henderson, Ky., and Jackson, Miss. He worked at USA TODAY as an assignment editor from two months before the paper started, in July 1982, until taking retirement in January 2007, except for 14 months as executive sports editor of the Little Rock, Ark., paper.
While at USA TODAY, he served in a variety of roles – editing high school sports, the NBA, NFL, soccer, major league baseball and the Olympics. He was also assistant to the managing editor/sports. He attended two Olympics, six Final Fours, four Super Bowls and three World Series.

Julie Ward was deputy managing editor at USA Today for nearly two decades, from 1989 to 2007. She joined USAT as a general assignment reporter in 1984 and also was an assignment editor for the NBA, golf, tennis, motor sports, boxing, colleges and high schools. She led the USAT team that won the 2002 APSE award for best news story which revealed the 302 members of Augusta National Golf Club.
Before joining USAT, she was a reporter for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat, where she covered women's sports and was a columnist. One of her fondest memories is covering future Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee and watching her practice running the hurdles set among potholes on the street in front of Lincoln High School in East St. Louis, Ill.
Ward is one of 10 women to be honored by AWSM as a national Mary Garber Pioneer Award winner.

Please write a combined five things you learned from Don and Julie no later than 30 minutes before the start of class Tuesday March 17 (I suggest you do this sooner than later).

14 comments:

Colin Fitzgerald said...

Colin Fitzgerald
Comm 371-001
Sports Reporting

5 Things I Learned from Don Collins and Julie Ward:

1. Find a vacuum and fill it. In any job you go into, find the area of coverage that is lacking.

2. Assuming that what someone tells you is wrong is always a good idea. Double check so the reader does not get cheated.

3. Focus your questions as much as possible to get better answers.

4. Due to the fact that women were not allowed in all major leauge locker rooms, many sports publications would not hire women as sports reporters.

5. Writers always complain about not having enough room. Self editing is the key to writing well.

Bonus thing I learned: There was once a game called 6-on-6!?!

Chris Brooks said...

5 things I learned:

Don Collins
1. Apparently, coach is not capitalized, that is of course it begins a sentence or quote. Titles are in lower cases if you work at USA Today, which is something I always capitalized in stories.

2. Write the kind of story you would read, not a play-by-play. Tell it like you would tell your mom or your friends.

3. Regardless of who edits a story, the reader will find fault and come at the writer if something is wrong, or they do not like it.

Julie Ward
4. Find a vacuum and fill it. any job, any workplace!

5. Not all editors are good writers. Not all writers are good editors or good managers.

Sara Ronken said...

Five Things I learned from Don Collins and Julie Ward:

1. Be sure to edit your own work before submitting it to the actual editor. You will become a better writer this way.

2. Find a vacuum and fill it in any job you’re in.

3. Some editors are not good writers, just as some writers are not good editors.

4. 6-on-6 was a game women used to play. Players were not allowed to shoot past the center point, because officials were afraid excessive running would mess up their reproductive organs.

5. If you wish to become an editor, it is a good idea to first be a writer. That way you can see things from both sides.

bmurphy6 said...

Brendan Murphy
Communication 371-001
Klein/Sports Reporting
5 Things I Learned from Don Collins and Julie Ward.

Don Collins
1.Assume facts are incorrect. In the Internet age we can double check everything. Always do the research.

2.Constantly be evaluating your work and critiquing to improve your writing.

3.Focus your questions as specifically as possible.

Julie Ward
1."Find a vacuum and fill it. Any job you do."

2.Women in the field do not have enough role models. There are still not enough women influencing the field.

3.Not all editors are good writers and not all writers are good editors.

Joe said...

Joe Grimbert

Joe said...

Don Collins:

1) I learned that it is better to have too much information in a lead rather than not enough information--error on the side of too much information.

2) Being an editor is easier on a family than a being a writer. Writers have to travel more often than not. Editors usually can stay in one area or location. Not neccessary to be present at the event.

3)There are no bad answers in an interview just badly formed questions.
Julie Ward:

4)Find an event that nobody is willing to cover and cover it!

5) The first women sports journalists had to overcome a lot of adversity. They did not get the same access to the athletes as their male counterparts did. Due to their perservence, women sports journalists now have the same opportunities as men do.

Joe said...

Don Collins:
* Edited version*

1) I learned that it is better to have too much information in a lead rather than not enough information--error on the side of too much information.

2) Being an editor is easier on a family than a being a writer. Writers have to travel more often than not. Editors usually can stay in one area or location. Not neccessary to be present at the event.

3)There are no bad answers by in an interviewee. Just badly formed questions by the interviewer
Julie Ward:

4)Find an event that nobody is willing to cover and cover it!

5) The first women sports journalists had to overcome a lot of adversity. They did not get the same access to the athletes as their male counterparts did. Due to their perservence, women sports journalists now have the same opportunities as men do.

Fox Parker said...

Five things the USA Today Way:

1)Don Collins: What people are talking about is what you should be writing

2)Don Collins: Assume what someone is telling you is wrong, so check out everything you are told. (A wise man once told me "If your mother says she loves you, check it out.")

3)Don Collins: Work hard and don't forget the fundamentals. There is always someone out there working a little harder than you are. Michael Jordan never forgot how to shoot free throws when he became a superstar.

4)Julie Ward: There will always be a need for sports writers. Sports are something that people need to live happy, normal lives, so there will always be a need for good sports writers.

5)Julie Ward: With being an editor, some have it and some don't. You need to be able to yell at people and be yelled at.

6)Julie Ward: Find a vacuum and fill it.

7) The magnanimous Steve Klein: Edit your work on a hard copy not on a computer or type writer.

Ben Libby said...

Ben Libby
Comm 371-001
Sports Reporting

Five things I learned from Don Collins and Julie Ward:

1. When applying the attribution tag, it's best to keep it simple when using words such as "said", or "replied".

2. Always assume the information relayed to you from someone else to be false. Double checking is essential to properly reporting news.

3. Find an event that no one is willing to cover. EX: Don choice to cover the Master's gave her a step in the door.

4. There once was a day when girl's basketball had a rule where players weren't allowed to dribble the ball over half court; it was thought they couldn't handle the stress of running a regulation-size court.

5. Perfect the basics first and then go from there.

Grant Paulsen said...

5 things: Collins and Ward

1. The longer your question the shorter the answer is probably going to be. Ask pointed questions

2. No matter what job you have, "find a vacuum and fill it."

3. Julie Ward wasn't allowed to go past half-court because she was a women in one of the basketball leagues she played in. So she played field hockey, where she could run anywhere on the field she wanted to.

4. Being good at writing doesn't make you good at editing.

5. Cover events that aren't being covered by every outlet. You'll get better access and your work will be more unique.

Diana Friedman said...

Diana Friedman

Five Things I learned from Don Collins and Julie Ward:

1. Don't get too caught up in details - always keep in mind the fundamentals of being a good sports writer. (Collins)

2. Don't assume you're done until you absolutely have to, always make that extra phone call. (Collins)

3. Don't assume the interviewee/speaker is correct in what he/she is saying. Always check the facts over and over again - ACCURACY is key! (Collins)

4. This field is not made for a woman. In fact, it's very difficult for a woman to do it because of prejudices as well as the possibility of starting a family. (Ward)

5. Not all writers are good editors! (Ward)

Andrew said...

5 Things I learned:

1) We have to check people. We always have to continue to check the facts.

2) Using "said" is always best. It is clear and simple.

3) BE ON TIME.

4) Always treat everyone well. You never know when you are going to bump into someone again.

5) When interviewing, focus your questions in a very specific manner.

Eric Vitoff said...

Sorry for the last minute-ness, but here are my five things learned from D. Collins and J. Ward:

1. Find a vacuum and fill it!

2. Six on six basketball - never heard of it before

3. 'Athletic director' would be lower-case for USA Today (Sorry about the orphan quotes).

4. There’s always someone out there who may be willing to work harder than you, so it’s important to be able to gauge and control your own work ethic.

5. Editors are not necessarily good writers and not all writers are necessarily good editors.

Evan said...

Five things learned from Julie Ward
(I missed Don Collins):

1. Believe it or not, there was a time when women's "sports" in Julie's high school, consisted of a game called "6 on 6" - a bizarre version of women's basketball, purposefully made different to deter similarities to actual (men's) basketball.

2. Look for areas in your field (vacuums) that are vacant and FILL THEM to the best of your ability.

3. It was thought, for an embarassingly long time, that overactive physical activity in women can harm/render ineffective their reproductive organs.

4. Good editing and good writing is not mutually exclusive, but being good at one doesn't necessarily guarantee being good at the other.

5. The early days of women's sports journalism was a difficult, terribly sexist, (and, regarding a certain story Mrs. Ward told the class, DISGUSTING)time.

It's incredible how far we've come, but also how LOW we were. :(