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Covering Edmonton next year, story ideas


Jeremy Loome

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Hey everyone,

These things do sometimes change but the plan right now is that I'll be covering Edmonton's new A League team next season for the Edmonton Sun. If anyone has any story ideas, tips or complaints, please feel free to drop me a line. Please try and keep it constructive, and keep in mind that it's only part of my job, and therefore won't always get priority. However, I volunteered for the role as a fan of the game, and will endeavour to do my best.

Thanks!

Jeremy Loome

Edmonton Sun

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I'll certainly try. I don't mean to alarm, but you certainly can't expect everything to be positive; there will be gaffes and goofups and (hopefully) oocasional lousy results.

I'm not there to be a cheerleader. At the same time, I want it to work as much as anyone, and I expect the public here -- at least at first -- will be hugely behind them. The challenge will be maintaining public interest, which generally comes down to whether I can argue for good space in the paper and get it regularly. And I'd be quite happy if people here WEREN'T nice to me, as long as it's only in response to me being unfair in turn.

We'll have to wait and see how it goes. I'm a firm believer that the only reason soccer fails in Canada is because most people don't know it's supposed to succeed. In other words, everyone loves it, but that doesn't always translate into bums in seats for a variety of factors, one of which has definitely been coverage of the sport. Last year, the u-19 women's team games in Edmonton drew 35,000 per game 1) because everyone knew about them for weeks in advance; 2) because they were held in beautiful weather and 3) they were cheap, and therefore family friendly. I'm sure the local franchise owners were paying attention to that.

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Hi Jeremy! Given my role in it, the first thing that comes to my mind is the Voyageurs Cup. We are hoping for, and will do everything in our limited power to try to get, a favourable schedule next season where all five Canadian teams play each other at least twice in order to properly expand the Cup (imagine a 5-team table where each team plays 8 games for 20 games in total! that would be great!). So it would be nice if the Cup is mentioned in the Edmonton media whenever it's relevant. Coverage has been difficult to attain in the west, so hopefully we can start right off the bat in Edmonton. As you know, I am already sending you our press releases, for this purpose (let me know if you're not getting them).

By the way, what other writers cover soccer in Edmonton? I'd like to add them to our contact list. The only other one I know of is Terry Jones.

Please contact Matt or myself if you need anything. Our addresses are on the Voyageurs Cup site.

Keep up the good work. I think it's great the way you interact with us.

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I am getting them, yes. Actually, I think'll it make a nice ongoing companion piece to all-Canadian matchups, along with the usual Edmonton-Calgary thing.

It sounds cheesy, DJ, but the best way to get the Cup coverage is to tie it some kind of community event. Side issues like this are never particularly well-covered in Canada, particularly when it's a sport that's poorly covered to start off with. Try aomething like having each team pick a local youth team, with the winners hosting their youth team in a match or something. You're absolutely guaranteed feature photo coverage thanks to the 'cute kid/generous adult' factor and you might even get the odd column or story out of it.

Yeah, I know, It's kinda sad. But that's the state of things right now in terms of the media end. That will change over time and with some league success, however.

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I would like first echo the sentiments of the others by showing my encouragement for your coverage of the Edmonton team. My suggestion is that it would be nice if you could play up some of the Canadian national team aspects - particular doing the odd feature or focusing on those members of the Edmonton team which play for Canadian national teams - I suspect that for the forseeable future we will only be talking about U18, U19, U20 & U23 teams rather than the senior national team, but I suspect that will be plenty. For example, a Kitchener paper recently did a nice article on Nick Blicharski about his first year with the Lynx & his Canadian national & U20 team aspirations. One of the things which "joe public" in Toronto often ask me when I bring up the subject of the Lynx is whether there are any players who have played or currently play with Canadian national teams (because the Lynx get no coverage at all, they have no idea). When I am able to point out one or two players I find their level of interest increases (only to largely fade again afterwards since there's no media coverage or promotion of the team by the owners - out of sight, out of mind - but I suspect if you are covering the team regularly that will be less of a problem in Edmonton than in Toronto.)

As well, any thoughts of ending your articles with some "Notes: " which feature an anecdote or two about how Edmontonians are doing in Europe (ie. guys like Tam Nsaliwa)?

And if we can still believe in tomorrow, yesterday will disappear soon enough - IQ, The Wake (1985)

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I like the idea that you aren't going to be there to be a cheerleader.

Also, I'm the opposite of Gian-Luca when it comes to playing up the national team or Canadians elsewhere. Your articles are supposed to be covering the local team, our domestic league not soccer overseas.

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I think GLs point is to have mention of Edmonton players' involvement in the national side, if any. Maybe not articles - but it's important to have all aspects of the sport relayed to the public. People should know when the players are they watching on the pitch are playing for Canada.

As we all know, information about soccer in general is hard to come by around here, nevermind player profiles.

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Gian-Lucas idea was to end the articles with "notes" on how Edmontonians are doing in Europe. Personally if you are a reporter covering the Edmonton professional soccer team, it's not your job to cover how players are doing in Europe. Personally, and this is just my opinion, I don't give a crap about how players from my locality are doing overseas. It has nothing to do with the team I support.

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I would think that a professional club in Canada would want more people reading about them than those who currently support them. I agree the story needs to be centred on the club itself but why ignore the local soccer community? The strength of soccer in Canada is in its minor soccer system. If a local professional club can gain P.R. through an article mentioning local success stories, why wouldn't they encourage that link?

And let's face it. Fans of the A-League will read it anyway.

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quote:Originally posted by Canuck Oranje

I would think that a professional club in Canada would want more people reading about them than those who currently support them.

Why would people who don't support the professional club be reading the articles in the first place?

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quote:Originally posted by Krammerhead

Why would people who don't support the professional club be reading the articles in the first place?

Uh, because they're there? I don't follow tennis or swimming or curling, but I get around to reading articles on the sports from time to time.

Allez l'Impact!

Allez les Rouges!

Allons Ultras!

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I'm hoping that you get a chance to write about the Edmonton/Calgary rivalry. I look forward to the chance to go up to Edmonton to cover those clashes.

I think your first article, which could be written today, is about current A-League/Edmonton connections. The obvious ones are with Calgary FC. Some of the core members of the club are Edmontonians. Nick Zuniga should be the first target by team management, and it seems likely he'll end up with the Edmonton club next year unless he's in an overseas league. Another Edmontonian who was a regular starter in Calgary is Sean Fraser. Jordan Gillespie, Mark Korthius, and Brett Bachelu have played for U of A. Last year the Storm had Waldo Dutra, Angelo Sestito and Chris Lemire, who's now with the Impact. Rob Catana seems like an obvious new recruit next year. He's from Edmonton and will be graduating from Hartwick College. He's spent time with the Storm's PDL side and is a scoring threat. There's also some former NPSL Drillers scattered throughout the league such as Rick Titus, Jim Larkin, Martin Nash, and others.

Jason

http://members.shaw.ca/jkmet/stormreports.htm

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GL wrote:

quote:My suggestion is that it would be nice if you could play up some of the Canadian national team aspects - particular doing the odd feature or focusing on those members of the Edmonton team which play for Canadian national teams

I-buh be-buh talkin'-buh about-buh dis-buh.

As for the "notes", I have no opinion.

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quote:Rob Catana seems like an obvious new recruit next year. He's from Edmonton and will be graduating from Hartwick College. He's spent time with the Storm's PDL side and is a scoring threat.

Actually, Catana would be from Calgary, where he played on the same club team as Kevin McKenna and OH.

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Hey Jeremy, don't forget the W-League team. In all probability, at least two or three members of the Canadian Women's National team will be playing for Edmonton next year, including members of the Under-19 team that made such a splash here last summer. An article about the new women's pro team would make a great sidebar to the Sun's coverage of the Canada-Mexico game on the 31st. How about an interview with Sasha Andrews? Or a more general piece on the phenomenal growth of women's soccer in Canada, with reference to the new Edmonton W-League team as part of the local angle.

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Yeah, euro profiles will, hopefully, be a regular thing (well, as regular as they can be given the numbers). I'm hoping to push for more editorial space as well, in which to write about the Canadian scene generally. Scott Zerr will likely to write on the team regularly as well, and we could all use some public support in the form of letters (not praise, just letters about soccer and the need for coverage).

The biggest impediment to the growth of the sport in this country, unfortunately, is entrenched media. Every editor's convinced the only thing people here care about is hockey, followed by CFL, followed by.....well, pretty much everything else. So soccer gets the back pages, if that. (except, lately, in Edmonton. We have an Italo-Canadian sports editor who appreciates it and the women drew huge here last year, so expect lots of coverage this Sunday.)

The only way to convince them that isn't the case is by demanding more coverage. The only way to do that is to call or write en masse (politely. Being argumentative and obsteprous ruins your credibility).

Even then, you need hundreds doing it per paper to have any impact. Otherwise, the local team will likely be relegated to Sports 5 and in. I'd suggest putting that message to any organized soccer groups you're connected with as well, as well, to bolster the number of writers and callers.

Calling or writing to ask for coverage outside of the pro realm will also do nothing but cost you credibility. Newspaper staffs are so damn thin these days that they won't even consider a story unless it's tangibly tied to the pros, so minor soccer is out, period. Whether you like it or not is never really the issue, because newspapers aren't even remotely concerned about individual opinions, no matter what they tell you. The masses rule.

In fact, any kind of negativity will just cost you, so avoid it.

DO'S:

Be armed with a solid position: point out how many people play the sport in canada, how many pro teams there are now, how many pros there are overseas from your town, the fact that it's the fastest growing draw on sports television; the fact that we're a multi-ethnic nation and that papers can build readership in non-traditional markets; etc etc.

Volunteer; As long as it's not costing them anything, many papers will take on correspondents to cover local games. Be legible and literate and expect lousy space. Hey, at least it will be getting in.

Compliment; Sports reporters have (and I say this knowing full well someone's gonna send me a nasty reply) the biggest egos of anyone in the media biz. They love the sound of their own names (well, ok, of course there are exceptions. Zerr's a pretty humble guy, for instance) and will, therefore, devote more time to covering sports that lead to letters in which they are mentioned by name.

If you write in and say "Dear editor, I'm glad you guys covered the game the other night", your chances of making the op-ed page (and thereby drawing in more letter writers) are lousy.

If you say "Dear editor: we were incredibly happy with Joe Schmoe's solid coverage of last night's game", you may be lying through your teeth but you're having the desired effect: one, the editor will run the letter, which generally generates more letters and more interest. Two, the reporter sees his name in print, gets an ego boost and decides to write more about the sport that gave him that ego boost.

If you're thinking this is all kind of pathetic and underhanded, welcome to the wonderful world of mass media, where our perception of public opinion actually gets more credit than the real thing.

DONT'S: Don't compare it with other sports directly. Saying "no one gives a crap about curling" can be suicide if you don't know how often the sports editor curls.

Don't talk about how they're not serving the public, as most newspaper people care about being read and selling papers, not what the overall impact is; they wont' tell you that, of course. They'll tell you every voice counts. But what they're really thinking is "Serving the public? What am I? A waiter?"

Don't compare coverage here with other countries, as they'll just counter that the London Independent does a lousy job of covering the NHL. NEVER compare it with a directly competing outlet. If someone calls a Sun reporter and says "the Journal did this, why can't you?", the answer will usually be something like, "yeah, well, go read that newspaper then." Of course, that's not what you'll hear. They'll tell you they have "different readers" or "more contraints" or "different priorities." It's a bunch of crap. Everyone with a competitive bone at one paper hates being compared to their competition, because they spend a lot more time studying their competition's weaknesses than their strengths. If someone called me and said "the Journal did this story, why don't you?" My first thought would generally be "yeah, well, they also did a story on the mating habits of monarch butterflies. Whoop-de-frickin do. It's not a relevant argument.

Don't whine about a particular game or play not getting coverage, call and politely point out how good it was and when the next game is;

Don't threaten to pull your subscription -- I've been at papers where 3,000 people dropped subscriptions because of a particular story . The paper doesn't care until it seriously hurts the bottom line, and papers make their money off advertisers, not circulation.

In other words, you have no real say in how the press covers anything, but the more often you push an idea as something positive, and frame it as if you love them, the more of a reaction you'll get. Yes, it's pathetic. Unfortunately it's also reality.

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Thanks for the tips Jeremy, good luck with your coverage next year of the Edmonton A-League team. You make a lot of good points, geez.. I might even have to start reading the Sun. ;)

Outta curiosity, what's the "inside" take on the recent popularity of women's soccer? I'm kinda interested to know what Sports Editors who rank NHL, CFL, the Rest think of that? I get the impression based on some of the stories I've read that people in the media are treating it more like some "feel good social phenomenon" than a legitimate sports story.

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