Yellowed paper

Critiquing the past. I have been going through and looking at some of the stuff I’ve packed away like a pack rat, and I figured as I start to go through it, I may as well comment on it here. I don’t think I have an appreciation of what I own. Maybe this will help. This blog, then, will take a turn as I go through some of my stuff. It may not be valuable to anyone else, and it hardly has value to me. If it did, would I have it stored away in the dark, not to be seen?

The Ponies of Stillwater. When I was working in Wisconsin, my managing editor still had a good friendship with one of the guys who had my position before me. He went on to take the same position for a daily newspaper in Stillwater, Minn. And in turn, sometimes a special section would find its way to me. And I kept them.

I have the 2008 sprint sports, football, fall sports and winter sports preview from the Stillwater Gazette. And I began to thumb throw them again.

Team sports previews have grown to be boilerplate for me over the years. There’s certain things you have to accomplish with these sections/stories/previews. Who’s back? Who left? Who’s new? What teams are going to be good for the league title? How is your team going to do? Those are the basic questions, regardless of sport.

The spring section was broke down not necessarily in paragraph form. It’s a sort of hybrid. The coach was listed, then assistants, then captains. The outlook was next, followed by expectations, a quote, more information about the sport, the roster by grade and a schedule. Good solid basics. The fall and winter sections followed suit.

The football preview was different. Bear in mind, this is one school’s football team, and a full tab was dedicated to it. Stories on the outlook, the offense, the defense, rules changes, coaching changes and the conference were all in there. The entire roster was listed, too, as was full statistics from the year before. There were records and All-State players. It truly covered the whole program.

I know the idea of having the coaches, assistants and captains listed was something I tried implementing, but it just didn’t work the way I would have hoped. Maybe with a little more work.

And who knows, if there is ever a time when I’m down to just a couple of high schools to cover, or even just one as is the case with Stillwater, maybe these sections may come in handy.

Cycling back 10 years. On the same shelf that I had the Stillwater sports sections, I had three sections I produced when I worked for the Tuscola County Advertiser: the 2004 Fall Sports Preview, the 2005 Spring Sports Preview, and the 2005 Fall Sports Preview. These were all broadsheet sections.

I have a couple of ways where I can draw differences, and even lessons learned. First, from the two different years of fall sports sections, we asked our local cartoonist to come up with the cover of the ’04 edition. The ’05 edition I went with a SI-influenced cover. The original art from the ’04 edition I still have someplace.

The ’04 edition was run on the presses that were in Caro, while the ’05 edition was run on another press elsewhere. The color was sharper. I believe the photos I have in the ’05 edition were better partly because I learned a new process for doing black and white images. And another part was the transition to digital photography.

Both years, I began with girls basketball previews for the five respective leagues and a welcome message. Every school got a single story, one that had each of its teams in it. And each varsity team had a team photo. If I had to do broadsheets again, I might do it this way again. I would have to look back at my newspaper’s archives for guidance, too.

I also had playoff assignments for the teams.

The ’05 edition came in at a tidy 16 pages in one section. The ’04 section had a lot more advertisements, not surprising considering the direction the economy was heading, and was in two parts over 16 pages.

The 2005 spring preview was also 16 pages, and looking back, it’s a jumble. My current employer, and my most recent former employer, used rules to split up copy and it definitely would have helped. Or, more discipline on my part to make the section flow better. I had a few items about past stuff that happened after doing some research in the Advertiser’s archives. I dubbed the series “Passing the Torch” because a torch was featured prominently in the paper’s masthead.

What I should have done was stripped out that nonsense and went straight with the preview stuff for the season. That would have also meant stripping out the Tuscola County Tournament titles in baseball and softball.

That means hitting the marks on what needs to be done and leaving out the fluff.

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