Prep pulse: Behind the scenes with a beat writer

Prep pulse: Behind the scenes with a beat writer

I've always found behind-the-scenes glances to create some of the more fascinating stories in the sports sphere. From a look at the unique world of an Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady to traveling with the Schlarman girls' basketball team, there are plenty of people and groups deserving of this treatment.

It's hard to put journalists in that party, though. Not because there aren't fun stories to be told, but because it's not in a true journalist's nature to become part of the story, let alone the story.

But that doesn't mean we can't mix things up from time to time.

These days, it's easier than ever for the public to garner glances at how things run in the newsroom. At The News-Gazette, we enjoy bringing in members of the coverage area to check out our headquarters after an interview.

So allow me to take you on a trip to cover a prep event. From my perspective, my duties at a typical contest include: live-tweeting the action, keeping score and shooting video of the on-court happenings.

Things used to be more straightforward, I'll assume. Social media is a more-recent invention, while print journalists have only recently been counted on to dive into the digital realm.

I live-tweet games to make sure those who can't attend are aware of what's happening. Twitter is a hit-and-miss venture at the high school level, as some institutions utilize it more than others for sporting events. So I like to think my tweets allow for an in-depth look at something members of the public care about.

Statkeeping is an equally important task. Let's take a basketball game, for example. I like to keep track of rebounds and turnovers by each squad, something many box scores won't delve into at this level. Plus, I have a quick reference point for my tweets, or if I need to turn around a story abruptly.

I still rely greatly on the box scores emailed to our office, but I feel I wouldn't be providing due diligence to the profession if I didn't keep statistics of my own.

Now, the video aspect is something that isn't quite so required as the tweeting and statkeeping. While people (like myself) enjoy the print product, video is becoming such an integral part of journalism.

So, if there's an opportunity for me to film some of the action going on in front of me, you can bet I'm going to take it. The end result is typically a highlights package put on our website the next day — although sometimes it's something as simple as a brief clip that gets gobbled up on Twitter. (The massive dunk by Champaign Central's Khailieo Terry earlier this month comes to mind.)

Following all of this, there's the usual story to write. I am a reporter, after all.

So there's a behind-the-scenes look at what I do multiple nights a week.

I don't bring this up because I'm trying to draw plaudits. I simply think some outside observers might be interested in the journalistic process. And, as always, I seek ways to improve that process.