Northeast Regional Meeting: Analytics to multimedia to managing with less

By MATT EISENBERG

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

HAMDEN, Conn. — The Associated Press Sports Editors met at Rocky Top Student Center on Quinnipiac University’s York Hill campus on April 28 to discuss several contemporary topics in the field at its Northeast Regional meeting.

Journalists such as The Newark Star-Ledger’s Steve Politi, Newsday’s Hank Winnicki and Mark La Monica, The New York Times’s Jim Luttrell and The Boston Globe’s Matt Pepin were some of the names who headlined the sessions.

Sports Analytics

ESPN’s Dean Oliver and Baseball Prospectus author Dan Brooks discussed the evolution of advanced analytics throughout sports and the ever-growing methods of data visualization. Both experts agreed that it is key for journalists to have a true understanding of the statistics they quote in their articles. And they said sports writers should focus on one statistic a day in order to keep things simple for the reader. One of the highlights of the session was the debate about the WAR statistic between Brooks and Joe Sullivan of The Boston Globe.

Relationships Between Colleges and Newspapers

Politi spoke of The Star-Ledger’s coverage of Rutgers after Athletic Director Julie Hermann’s comments in a classroom resonated all over the web. While Hermann’s comments reflected her displeasure with the Star-Ledger’s coverage of Rutgers, Politi defended the newspaper, adding, “If we were out to get Rutgers, we’d stop covering Rutgers.”

Yale Sports Information Director Steve Conn and UConn Assistant Athletic Director of Communications Mike Enright were also on the panel to discuss how news outlets and university public relations directors can get along. They reviewed their course of action in several stories, including when a Yale football player falsely claimed he was under consideration for a Rhodes scholarship.

Both college officials said it was important to build trust with journalists, and Enright cited an incident when he did a favor for a reporter, only to feel betrayed when the reporter used the information for something not previously agreed upon.

Success With Multimedia

La Monica, Luttrell and Pepin each showed some of the APSE’s Top 10 Multimedia awards during the third session, varying from Newsday’s 13-minute long MMA documentary on Chris Weidman’s upset over Anderson Silva to The Globe’s interactive map of the Red Sox clubhouse and locker room.

Luttrell showed what The Times did regarding the Boston Marathon, tracking down the people on site and being able to tell their stories of what happened at the finish line – nearly a week after the incident occurred. Pepin also talked about what The Globe did with its marathon coverage this year in finding runners and accompanying their stories with key facts and interesting statistics so people could put a face to a name or number.

Managing With Less

There is no question that there has been a decline in the number of working journalists, but The Glen Falls Post Star’s Greg Brownell, The Hartford Courant’s Jeff Otterbein and The Times Herald-Record’s Judy Connelly each spoke of how they have been able to manage a drop in staff. In addition to some logistical changes, a bonus meal or the approval for an inconvenient requested day off can go a long way to keeping up the morale of people who are being asked to work longer and harder than ever before. And Connelly said that showing appreciation in the form of a personal pat on the back – more than a letter or an email – can play a significant role in getting a reporter or copy editor to keep giving that extra effort. 

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