High school football is big in Texas, and the Dallas Morning News wanted to deliver a project that most places only provide for colleges and the pros.
On Aug . 25, the first day of the season, the Morning News launched real-time scores, statistics and play-for-play for 50-60 Dallas area high school games each week.
“Real-time scoring gives us a competitive advantage in a market that becomes more saturated with high school football coverage each season,” said deputy sports editor Keith Campbell. “This project helps us stand alone as the No. 1 source for coverage in Dallas-Fort Worth area — and that's something advertisers appreciate.”
Campbell said through three weeks, readers have been appreciative of the effort. There has been an increase in page views and unique visitors, and positive response via email and comments.
The 50 games each week with the real-time scoring represents about half the number of games the Morning News covers overall. Scores are displayed on the scoreboard page and each game has a "boxscore | PBP" link beside it that allows readers to follow along. The same info is available on the paper’s smartphone app.
Freelancers were trained at the Morning News on how to use the software before the season.
Campbell cited several ways the project has helped the Morning News’ football coverage evolve both in print, online with a broadcast partnership.
Print: It is easier to plan out the section knowing which games are close, which are blowouts.
On air: The Morning News has partnered with Fox Sports Southwest and KTCK 1310 AM The Ticket for a radio/TV show from 11 p.m. to midnight. Real-time scoring gives the show more scores/stats to pull from. Rather than just reading or displaying scores on air, the show can provide individual stats or information about big play.
Some other notes involving high school coverage from around the country:
In Colorado, the Longmont Times-Call, which was recently purchased by Media News, has started working with the Boulder Daily Camera on launching a new prep prep sports website — BoCoPreps.com. "Our area has never had anything like this, so I think it's rather cool," Times-Call sports editor Brian Howell says."Although it's been only about 3 weeks since we launched, it has been very well received by the prep sports community so far."http://www.bocopreps.com/
At the Cape Girardeau (Mo.) Southeast Missourian, the paper's website has experimented with an easy way to add video and interactivity to its high school report: Sports editor Kevin Winters Morriss explains: "First, we wanted to incorporate more video onto our website, but our resources are limited. We don't have the staff to shoot and edit highlights. So we decided to start a player of the game feature. For every game we staff, the reporter is asked to pick a player of the game. After the game, the reporter asks a couple of questions that we record using a small Flip video camera. It's usually questions the reporter would ask anyways, so it doesn't take any additional time on deadline. The reporter brings the camera back to the office, where someone else downloads it and posts it online after deadline. We tease the player of the game video with a refer in the print edition, but don't let readers know who was picked as the player of the game. The reader has to go online to find out. We've have some success with it, especially with football games. It's an easy way to add something different to the website that isn't labor intensive.” The paper also has started using Cover It Live on Friday nights to provide a forum for readers to share scores and interact during football games. Reporters send in scoring updates or have links to their Twitter account into the Cover It Live feed. “It's turned into a great resource for people to keep track of scores from other games or offer their thoughts on the game they're watching,” Morriss said. “We started it during it during the first week of the football season and the number of participants nearly doubled the second week, and the participation continues to grow."
For the second straight year, the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal put together a 96-page high school football preview issue. However, different than in years past, in addition to season outlooks, schedules, region previews and the usual things most preview issues
have, each of the 27 schools in the MDJ coverage area had a feature story that highlighted a player, players or team unit with each getting new feature art. "The preview issue has been very well received in the community,"
sports editor John Bednarowski said. "The only negative comment we have heard is a parent from one school wished we
had profiled a different player for their school."
In doing their research, Bednarowski said there were some interesting finds that made for some really good stories and not all about action on the field.
— Three members of one team who had relatives currently serving in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
— A quarterback who had not started a varsity game prior to the season, but had serious recruiting interest from schools like Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee among others.
— A linebacker who has already begun to establish himself as a video game producer who has already published nine game titles that have received more than 15 million plays online and sold others to Disney
— A player who has grown up in a tragic situation — losing his father to a heart attack, two brothers that died because of drug use and almost lost his mother to a brain aneurysm — but has worked hard and earned a college scholarship.
— A running back/defensive back who has become a national qualifier in powerlifting competitions.
The issue available online at cobbfootballfriday.com.
Beaumont Enterprise: Sports reporter David Henry completed a summer-long investigation into what high schools in Southeast Texas spend on football with a story that broke down all those expenditures which ran along with the Enterprise's high school football preview section in the Aug. 21 edition. Henry used Texas Freedom of Information requests to find out what schools spent on everything from coaching salaaries to stipends to uniforms to travel.
In non-prep happenings:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Added another niche web product: stlclubsoccer.com with the goal of capturing the club soccer audience in the community. The site, which is primarily outsourced, club teams are asked to post schedules, results, photos, etc with occasional content from the Post-Dispatch.
Seattle Times: Bud Withers introduced his new blog, Pac-12 Confidential, on Sept. 1. Bud's blog is the 12th Times sports blog, which launched The Seattle Times into the blogosphere more than six years ago with Bob Condotta'a Husky football blog. We also have blogs for Husky basketball, Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders FC, women's basketball, MLB, fishing, High schools, Olympic sports as well as Jerry Brewer's general interest and opinion blog, The Brewery.