Sports adjusts prep football coverage – The San Diego Union-Tribune

I wrote in June about earlier deadlines caused by the move of printing to Los Angeles and the effect on the ability to report news in the newspaper. One area of concern was how sports was going to handle Friday night prep football coverage. In a football hotbed like San Diego County, this is a big deal for readers.

The deadline now for sports on Friday nights is 10:30. Before the sale of the U-T to the Tribune Publishing Co., it was 10:38. This sounds like a rather insignificant change, but here’s the difference: In the past with the printing done in Mission Valley, the press could hold for another 20 minutes if Sports needed a dash of extra time for late scores. With printing in L.A., the last page must be sent on its way at 10:30.

“Despite the challenging deadlines, we’ve still been able to provide readers with two full pages of prep football coverage,” said deputy sports editor Jess Kearney, who oversees preps.

“Any score we receive that’s too late for Saturday’s paper is included in Sunday’s edition. and virtually all the scores are available on our website by about 11 p.m. (Friday) at utpreps.com/football.”

Kearney explained some steps the Sports staff has taken to streamline production to buy as much time as possible. Some might say it hurts the report, but I don’t think so. For example, no headlines are written on shorter stories on the prep pages. In place of the headline, the score appears in large type. For me as a reader, that does the trick.

Kearney also said the stories do not contain quotes. This saves time by allowing the reporter to bypass running down to the field and corral excited teenagers and coaches. Although, the story might lose some color or insight, I have found good quotes that add to a story are gleaned infrequently at best. My first job in journalism was covering preps, and I rarely got a decent quote.

Also, no Friday night games appear on the Sports section front. The coverage is concentrated on two inside pages. This move allows for no continuation, or jump, pages to be in the mix for the late prep coverage.

The agate of results from a variety of pro and college sports produced Friday night no longer contains prep football scores. The high school results appear only on the two dedicated pages. Also, “How Top 10 fared” tally has moved to Sunday.

Kearney said coaches were encouraged before the season began to log their scores by 9:45 Friday night. On a typical Friday night, 40 to 50 high school games are played in the county. Not all those scores will appear in the print Saturday, but all the scores will run in print Sunday, as well as coverage of Saturday prep football games.

In the Sept. 5 edition, coverage of nine Friday night games was published, with stories written by staff members and experienced freelancers, some former U-T staffers. Six of those stories were in the shorter format without headlines.

With so many games from which to choose, how does the staff decide which contests to cover? “We use these guidelines: We try to cover the most compelling matchups; early in the season, we try to cover almost every team at least once; we try to have games from all areas of the county,” Kearney said.

Belgian prime minister did what?

Reader Rufus Calhoun Young, Jr., of Carlsbad emailed this poorly worded sentence that he caught in a story last month on the men who subdued a gunman on a train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris. The third paragraph of The New York Times story read like this: “The assault was described as a terrorist attack by the Belgian prime minister … .”

“Does the U-T really mean that the Belgian PM committed, or was responsible for a terrorist attack? Obviously unfair to the Belgian PM, and seriously inaccurate,” Young wrote.

He suggested it should have been changed to this: “The assault was described by the Belgian prime minister as a terrorist attack … .”

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