By David Arkin, Local Media Association
I always loved the start of the high school sports season in a newsroom. There was a special thrill, from the energy of Friday night games, phones ringing off the hook, tons of stories coming in at the last minute and the rush of getting it all done on time.
It was like election night but every Friday night through November.
And today, with so many digital tools available, covering high school sports is just that much more exciting.
While, there are some basics everyone should be doing: Game coverage, galleries, videos and stats, there’s much more you could do to surprise and delight your audience. I’ll spend time in this post looking at a host of interesting approaches you could take with your coverage this year:
1. Play of the week: Many news organizations do weekly features during the year such as “Athlete of the Week” or “Team of the Week.” KUBE creates a “Play of the Week.” If you are shooting enough footage or could work with a school to get their video footage, this is an approach readers would be really into.
2. Make a podcast: Many news organizations do weekly video shows featuring the upcoming big games. Consider doing the thing but on a podcast. The Journal Star does a nice one that allows sports staff members to talk about the big games, players and moments to watch. Podcasts offer news organizations the opportunity to go deeper. A reader is much more likely to listen to 30 minutes on a podcast than sitting through a 30 minute video of staff members talking.
3. Make preview shoots fun: If you are doing a photo shoot for your high school football section, why not also have some fun with it. Mlive.com took their photo shoots of each football team and had the players dress up in silly outfits. The gallery is a lot of fun and would be easy to do for shoots you have planned.
4. 100 years of all-state teams: The Oklahoman has made a special page featuring 100 years of their all-state teams with stories on each year. This is about tapping into your archive in a big way. You don’t have to do 100 years. Consider anniversaries. Maybe 30 years ago a team went undefeated. Looking back at that team could make a nice page.
5. Who’s being recruited? This gallery from the Arizona Republic adds athletes who have committed to schools. This is a great way to have a single place readers can go to for a big reader interest. Not only could you share this when you add a new one but your audience can flip through the whole list all over again or for the first time.
6. Readers help drive coverage: Masslive.com is launching a “Five in Five” feature, where they plan to go to five schools in five days and tell the stories of five different teams. And they are asking readers to share the best storylines. This sort of series, especially if you are are in a larger market, works well as you are able to hit the stories that potentially have the widest interest. If you aren’t a large market, you could still do a similar feature where you ask readers to share the best storylines in your community.
7. Don’t forget about the bands: This cleveland.com gallery features band members at a recent game. Drill teams and cheerleaders could also make their only gallery. This might make for some of your most clicked on material from your high school sports coverage.
David Arkin is the Chief Content Officer at the Local Media Association. Contact him at David.email@example.com