By Riley Christian, guest blogger
It is sheer luck that I was able to get an internship in time to get credit for this semester. It was Andy Wolf, former Pulse member, who got me in contact with Larry Alter, sports editor at The Courier, and let him know that I was in need of an internship if he had a spot available. Lucky for me, he had one left.
The biggest thing I have learned is the ability to write stronger ledes for my sports stories. I remember one of the first high school basketball stories I wrote for the Courier. The lede went something like, “Fostoria beat Arcadia 54-33 in a boy’s basketball matchup.” I emailed the story to Mr. Alter and waited for a response. He got it and yelled, “Riley! You gotta have a better lede than somebody beat somebody!” So of course I said, “Yes sir, will do!” like any first-time employee trying to make a good impression.
Now my ledes are better, and he often lets me know that I am doing much better than when I started. Sometimes I tend to get too fancy, though, and he tells me to tone it down. But, he’d much rather have me trying to be too fancy as opposed to boring the reader to death.
I have gotten a lot better with the amount of time it takes to finish a story as well. Mr. Alter did not put too much pressure on me in the beginning when it came to timing, but after a few days he let me know I was spending too much time on one story. I had to be more efficient or I was not going to survive in the sports writing business.
Most of my timing problems stemmed from learning to use the template the Courier uses for box scores and write-ups. It’s a technical process and one little mistake could cause the entire story to be blundered. Once I got used to the template I got much faster.
I struggled with the timing because I was trying to learn the format and also because I was trying to go too fast at times. As a result, I would make simple mistakes forcing myself to backtrack and waste more time. I quickly realized that the more I panicked, the longer it took to get the story done. After a while, I was able to relax because I was beginning to learn the ropes.
Another great thing I learned is how to write a basketball story from only the box score. Mr. Alter taught me how to look at the key statistics of a game, analyze them and use them in the story. Of course, I already knew to look at the leading scorers from each team, but he taught me how to go beyond the obvious. He taught me how to look at the tendencies of the teams such as turnovers and points per quarter. Maybe a team exploded in the fourth quarter of a game, which led them to the one-point victory.
It’s those simple techniques that made my job easier. I’m sure me doing better probably made his job easier as well.
This experience has been great so far. In the office, all of the other employees treat me as one of their fellow coworkers and help me as much as I need along the way. I am learning to be a better, more efficient sports writer. I work in the evenings until almost midnight, so the late hours can be a tad stressful, but overall I like the internship. It makes me feel like I’m working hard striving towards a greater goal.