Sunday, January 22, 2006

Pippin story is exactly what the Daily should be doing

The tragic death of Joplin High School student Jamison Alexander in a hit-and-run accident one year ago this week is still having ramifications and those were examined in a moving feature written by Michelle Pippin in the Joplin Daily.
I can't tell you if it made the print edition since four editions have passed and I have yet to receive one at my apartment which is smack in a heavily populated area of the city.
I can tell you that it is exactly the kind of story that can set the Joplin Daily apart from its competition. It is not just a cutesy feature, though there is nothing wrong with those. It is a feature connected with a story in the news, and it is one that shows the paper has a soul, which sometimes seems to be lacking in the Globe.
The Pippin story is not the only good thing that has been happening for the Daily lately. It has been updating the website on a regular basis and has shown an ability to update on breaking stories with the kind of complete details that the Globe is unwilling to offer, fearing that it will drive readers away from the print edition.
The news is not totally good for the Daily, but it can make up for it in the future by giving blanket coverage of the new league that is going to offer great possibilities of local sports coverage.
And no, I'm not talking about the pie-in-the-sky minor league hockey team, but the beginning of youth league football in the city. It took me a long time to realize something that the late Dean Keeling, long-time Neosho Daily News sports editor, understood instinctively: If you want to develop long-term reader loyalty, you don't do it, by covering high school varsity teams and college teams and neglecting everyone else; you do it by offering coverage (and not just a photo or an occasional feature, but legitimate coverage) of youth sports starting from third grade on. If you wait until athletes are in high school to begin your coverage, many of those athletes have already quit or have moved on to other school pursuits and you have lost the opportunity to connect with them and with their parents.
Most newspapers not only make that mistake, but compound it, by limiting themselves even further by just concentrating on varsity and leaving out junior varsity and freshman results.
I did the same thing when I was at the Lamar Democrat years ago. I did not come to realize the value of covering the youth sports until I was at The Carthage Press, where my sports coverage included eighth grade, ninth grade, junior varsity and even third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade football, in addition to the varsity sports.
During this time period is when the Daily sports staff should be covering middle school basketball games in person, as well as freshman and junior varsity. The middle school season will end soon and then more attention can be paid to the teams like College Heights, Thomas Jefferson, and McAuley.
That kind of coverage would set the Daily apart from the Globe.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Turner. I am a coach of one of the middle school team you speak of, and the Daily has gone above and beyond what the Globe has ever done. They put all the players who score, not just the top two or so, and they actually ask us about the game. They have also come to our games to take pictures. You need to check your facts before you post, Mr. Turner. Or, maybe ask us coaches what we think.

Coach Carter said...

The Daily also had a nice feature on the undefeated Joplin girls JV basketball team. How often do you see something like that?