Although I take a lot of pride in the writing I have to do as a junior hockey editorial assistant, that’s one of the smaller parts of what I do. Most of my weekend is spent editing the work of other writers.
The vast majority of game stories published by the Canadian Press have been written by reporters on location called stringers. Our junior hockey stringers send their work in to our office in downtown Toronto.
It’s then reviewed, changed (if necessary) and put out on the wire.
From start to finish the process should take approximately 5-10 minutes from the final whistle of a game. The better the stringer, the faster the turnaround.
So what do I look for in my stringers?
Speed – Thanks to the Internet I’ve got a pretty good idea of when the game ended. The longer it takes for a stringer to get the story to me, the more anxious I get. Why? Because if I know the game’s over, so do our readers and clients, and the news business is all about the quick and efficient spreading of information. If we’re not fast, we’re letting our consumer down.
Accuracy – Obviously, all that speed is wasted if there’s a mistake in the story. Having the correct score, players, spelling, even the date (yes, people mess up what day of the week it is) is all crucial. More than anything else, accurate copy is what makes a good stringer. If I have to check every stat on the Internet, you're not doing your job.
Clarity – My biggest pet peeve is when I can’t make heads or tails of what’s happening in the story.
A good stringer will have the final result, every scorer’s name (and how many points they had) and every goaltender’s stats in the first three paragraphs of their story. Basics like the team names, records, the league and the day of the week should be in the first paragraph.
Don’t hide the scorers at the bottom of the piece, or scattered throughout. Get down and dirty as quick as possible.
Simplicity – Straightforward writing goes hand-in-hand with clear writing. Don’t tell me that someone “tallied” or “netted” or “potted” a goal when you haven’t used “scored” yet. Even “Greg McKegg had two goals” sounds better than “McKegg potted two goals”.
A lot of stringers get a case of nerves and over-describe the play. Keeping it simple makes it easier to read and doesn’t clutter the reader’s mind. It also makes it less likely I’ll need to edit your masterpiece.
If you’re ever writing a game story just take your time and go with the simplest descriptions. Let your reader’s imagination fill in the blanks. Your personal style will shine through no matter what you do.
Fortunately for me, my crew of stringers was on fire this weekend and provided me with lots of great, easy to read copy. All of them met those four expectations, and it made my life much easier.
On to the round ups!
Friday, October 29th, 2010
QMJHL: MOSHER EARNS RARE SHUTOUT AS ROCKET BLANK MOOSEHEADS
It turns out that Evan Mosher is something of a late bloomer.
The 20-year-old goaltender made 28 saves as the P.E.I. Rocket blanked the Halifax Mooseheads 3-0 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Friday night.
OHL: CIZIKAS POWERS MAJORS OVER KINGSTON
Casey Cizikas had a goal and set up two others Friday to power the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors to a 5-1 victory over the Kingston Frontenacs in Ontario Hockey League play.
Three minutes after setting Devante Smith-Pelly's opener, the 19-year-old Cizikas scored a short-handed goal to put the Majors up 2-0 with six minutes left in the first.
WHL: WINTERHAWKS BEAT ROCKETS IN NIEDERREITER'S RETURN
It was a rough homecoming for Nino Niederreiter on Friday night.
Brad Ross had the eventual winner as the Portland Winterhawks flew past the Kelowna Rockets 4-2 in a very physical Western Hockey League game.
Saturday, October 30th, 2010
QMJHL: BETY, MOOSEHEADS SURPRISE WILDCATS
Charles Bety and the Halifax Mooseheads are making the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League a little more competitive.
Bety had back-to-back goals as the Mooseheads upset the Moncton Wildcats 5-2 on Saturday night.
OHL: KERBASHIAN'S HAT TRICK HELPS SARNIA DOUBLE UP BRAMPTON
Kale Kerbashian saw his teammates reel off three-straight goals and figured he should join in on the fun.
Kerbashian had a hat trick to help the Sarnia Sting beat the visiting Brampton Battalion 6-3 in Ontario Hockey League action Saturday night.
WHL: KOPER'S SIX POINTS LEADS AS CHIEFS ROCK PATS
The Spokane Chiefs just kept coming on Saturday night.
Levko Koper had two goals and four assists to help Spokane light up the Regina Pats 11-1 in Western Hockey League play.
Sunday, October 31st, 2010
QMJHL: CHAMPAGNE IS OVERTIME HERO AS REMPARTS EDGE DRAKKAR
The Baie-Comeau Drakkar were close to a major upset Sunday afternoon, but not close enough.
Joel Champagne scored in overtime as the Quebec Remparts narrowly escaped defeat against Baie-Comeau to pull out the 3-2 win in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: SHUGG'S FOUR-POINT GAME IGNITES MAJORS TO WIN OVER SUDBURY
Justin Shugg scored three times and added an assist to guide the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors to a come-from-behind 7-5 victory over the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario Hockey League on Sunday afternoon.
Chris Doyle had the eventual winner for the Majors (11-2-0), while Casey Cizikas, Jordan Mayer and Gregg Sutch also tallied.
WHL: ELLIOT'S LAST MINUTE GOAL LIFTS BLADES TO WIN OVER HITMEN
Stefan Elliott scored the game-winning goal with 59.1 seconds left in regulation to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 5-3 win over the Calgary Hitmen in the only Western Hockey League game Sunday afternoon.
Curtis Hamilton added a empty netter for his second goal of the contest for the Blades (11-4-0), while Darian Dziurzynski and Braeden Johnson also scored.