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Covering Sports for the Web

November 23, 2009

This weekend Nassau News Live’s five-tool ability was on full display. Text, live blog, video, pictures and slideshows. All in one package — and within hours.

This past weekend Nassau News Live blanketed the Nassau County high school football championships. There are four conferences, and although only one team is in our coverage area, we sent reporters to each game — and what we got can’t be found in one location anywhere on the Web. Best of all, it is simple to duplicate.

Chari Bayanker, the high school sports editor covered two straight games on Saturday night. I want to single him out because of his hard work. He had a game story up for the first game immediately (with a video), and followed suit with the second game, despite its late start time. I believe the time stamp for the second story is around 1 a.m.

To explain how to do this, I’ll run through how I covered Friday night’s game. The fact there was only one game certainly made it much easier — so props to you Chari.

I spent the first half taking pictures. While I don’t have a $3,000 camera (investors?), I did my best with the DSLR I do have that doesn’t allow for fantastic night shots of sports. I tried to get a few pictures that would represent the game no matter the outcome. I took pictures of both quarterbacks, the main running backs and both defenses making huge tackles. There wasn’t any scoring in the first half,which hindered how I wanted to present the story, but I can only work with what I’m given.

While I was freezing on the sideline (of note, bring gloves when you do this), I was texting live updates to my Twitter account. Now my dad informed me that I didn’t advertise this anywhere except Twitter, so the outside world didn’t know I was doing it (lesson 2). These tweets average one every four or five minutes of game time and always included the score. It is actually a benefit when texting in the cold that Twitter only allows 140 characters.

For the second half, I decided to up my Twitter coverage and make sure I was ready to post a game story when the game ended (and get warm). I returned to the press box where I increased live blogging the half that actually had scoring. Whoops. Anyway, I posted a halftime story with a picture that I quickly loaded onto my Asus netbook. While the second half unfolded, I edited and uploaded the best few pictures I had to Flickr and created a quick slideshow using VuVox. I embedded this into my running game story.

With a few updates of the game on both the site, and on Twitter, I had the mold for my game story and just needed to top it off with the final score and the final stats.

As soon as the game ended, I posted the final game story on the Web and ran down to the sidelines to interview players and the head coach of the winning team with my FlipCam. After grabbing a player and the coach, I scooted back up to the press box to collect the final totals for stats and write in some of the quotes I got from the sideline. (This is all about an hour after the game ended).

When I returned home, I edited a quick video together and uploaded it to YouTube and embedded it into my story. Midnight. Done.

Three hours after the game I had video, a live blog, slideshow and a game story with good quotes all in one place.

When TV broadcasters are fighting to put a package together for the one time it’ll air and print reporters are trying to recap the game play by play, my work is done. I had the live blog giving viewers each play as it unfolded (and I copied my Twitter stream into my text), and the video I produced, along with the slideshow, is getting more use than a once-aired TV report of the game.

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