It's a new world for preps coverage, but the same values still rule

  • John Radtke

    John Radtke

 
 
Posted9/2/2019 1:00 AM

Forty-five years ago, when I first worked in the high school sports department of a newspaper, if you wanted a score from a Friday night game you had to call us, or pick up the paper Saturday afternoon.

Yes, Saturday afternoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

How times have changed.

Today, the Daily Herald's high school sports department is a bustle of activity six nights a week from August until June.

Yes, we still give you everything we can in the traditional newspaper each morning as our No. 1 priority, but reporting on high school sports has become so much more than just an article in the paper. It's now become all about what (and who) can get news online the quickest. So in addition to tailoring our print coverage for the vast geographic area we circulate to, our prep sports staff -- full-timers and correspondents alike -- are hitting the internet as quickly as possible with not only the score of the game but all the pertinent information as well. We tweet, we Facebook, and most importantly, we populate dailyherald.com (and our special football and basketball websites) with as much information as we can, as quickly and accurately as we can.

But while we are doing that, and while our photo staff is creating memories for teenage student-athletes, we still place our main emphasis on producing the newspaper. And that requires speedy accurate work to meet our deadlines, especially on all of those Friday night football games, of which we will normally have 35 to 40 covered each Friday night by a collection of our full-time staff, which all told has right around 200 years of service to covering high school sports -- and myriad independent contractors.

We're not all about football. We cover every IHSA sport every season -- and among fall, winter and spring, that totals 40-plus sports.

Many of the stories you see are crafted from a table at a McDonald's restaurant, or from the front seat of a car, as reporters work to meet deadlines. Gone are the days of going back to the office to write the article.

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The editing process then begins, followed by attaching photos and videos to the events that were shot, posting the article online then designing the pages -- all in a short period of time to get those pages to the press before deadline.

We also take time to share our work on social media, and engage with readers who comment on our articles online, whether that be on dailyherald.com, or the variety of social media outlets we engage with.

The bottom line of our high school sports presentation is this -- high school sports is not college or pro sports. No one playing on a high school field or court is pulling down a six-figure paycheck. Reporting the news of high school sports fairly, accurately and with an emphasis on the positive has been and always will be our mantra here at the Daily Herald.

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