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You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, o you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how yon can still come out of it. - Maya Angelow 7 DEFEATED MISSION STATEMENT Through the lens of sports, The Undefeated is the premiere platform for intelligent analysis and celebration of Black culture and the African- American struggle for equality. The Undefeated challenges, engages and advocates for people of color in a manner consistent with the black-press pioneers, such as Sam Lacy, who led the charge for Jackie Robinson’s civil- rights-sparking baseball career. Too many rules get in the way of leadership. They put you in a box. People set rules to keep from making decisions. -Coach K. OUR SEVEN FOUNDING SPORTSWRITERS Sam Lacy Sam Lacy, a true pioneer in sports journalism, is credited with opening the door for all African-American sports writers and for his significant role in integrating Major League Baseball. The son of a black father and a Shinnecock Native American mother, Lacy was born in 1903. His deep love of baseball developed in childhood and continued, first as a semi-pro player then as a sports reporter for the Washington Tribune. He became the first African-American member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. In the mid 1930s, Lacy began a passionate campaign to convince the MLB to integrate, and was instrumental in getting Jackie Robinson an opportunity to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After helping to break the color barrier in baseball, he continue to press for black players to get equal pay, to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, to be included in television broadcasts and to be considered for managerial roles. He wrote his final column at the age of 99. Among the many honors Lacy received were: the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists, an induction into the writers and broadcasters wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, an induction into the Maryland Media Elall of Fame and a scholarship program established in his name by the United Negro College Fund. Learn the rules so you'll know when and how to properly break them. ~Jason Whitlock Ralph Wiley Known for his distinct and often highly literary voice, Ralph Wiley not only wrote prolifically about sports over the course of his three-decade career, he also offered an insightful and honest perspective on the African-American experience. A leading sportswriter for Sports Illustrated for nine years and a regular on-air commentator and columnist across ESPN platforms, Wiley began his career at the Oakland Tribune after graduating from Knoxville University in his native ‘Tennessee. While writing for the Oakland Tribune, he coined the phrase “Billyball” to describe the base-stealing style of play of Oakland A’s then-manager Billy Martin, a term that eventually became the advertising slogan for the team and was on all their promotions. Wiley was also an author. Among his many well-received books, were “Why Black People Tend to Shout,” “Serenity, A Boxing Memoir,” and “The Trials and ‘Tribulations of Making Malcolm X,” with Spike Lee. A great journalist is comfortable in situations where everyone else is uncomfortable. ~Jason Whitlock Bryan Burwell Bryan Burwell’s award-winning career in sports journalism spanned several decades. Burwell was known for his kind disposition and sincere love of and enthusiasm for all sports. As a former hurdler for Virginia State, he had a special affection for track and field and college sports, but his coverage of basketball and football was legendary. He wrote for USA Today, the Detroit Free Press, the New York Daily News and New York Newsday before joining the St. Louis Post Dispatch, where he remained until his untimely death in 2014. Although his engaging columns and features were highly regarded, Burwell was also well-known for the show he co-hosted on CBS Radio, for his stint as a sports correspondent for HBO’s Inside the NFL and for his frequent appearances on ESPN’s television show, The Sports Reporters. In 2007, the Associated Press Sports Editors named Burwell one of the top 10 sports columnists in the country. He was also honored by the National Association of Black Journalists, the Pro Football Writers Association, the Associated Press and the Professional Baseball Weiters Association. An army of deer led by a lion can beat an army of lions led by a deer. -Calvin Hill Dan Le Batard The son of Cuban immigrants, Dan Le Batard wrote for the Miami Hurricane while at the University of Miami and went to work for the Miami Herald upon graduation, The Florida native has been a sportswriter there since 1990. In addition to his work at the Miami Herald, Le Batard is a well- knowa personality on ESPN. He hosts a weekday radio show with Jon “Stugotz” Weiner and a television show, Highly Questionable, with his dad, Gonzalo and Bomani Jones. Le Batard is also a frequent contributor to many of ESPN’s television shows, including the Interruption, Outside the Lines, College GameDay and the Sports Reporters. A controversial voice in sports journalism, Le Batard is known for taking on challenging topics like race. He has a lifetime ban from voting in the Baseball Hall of Fame after he gave his vote away to the website Deadspin in 2014 in protest over the BBWA4’s selection process and its inclusion of players who may have used performance enhancing drugs. A leader recognizes leadership and follows. Jason Whitlock Claire Smith A pioneer in sports journalism, Claire Smith was one of the first female writers to cover sports. After graduating from Temple University, she speat over 30 years working in the newspaper industry at publications that included the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Hartford Courant. Smith joined ESPN as a news editor in 2007. As a newspaper reporter, she became the first African-American woman to cover major league baseball on a daily basis. Smith, who is a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, is widely regarded as one of the best baseball writers in the country. Despite her Philadelphia roots, she is a lifelong Dodgers fan because of her regard for Jackie Robinson and his triumphant story. Smith was recently honored with both the National Association of Black Journalists’ Legacy Award and the inaugural Sam Lacy- Wendell Smith Award from the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. This award honors those who have made significant contributions to racial and gender equality in sports. id Great journalism ts dependent on great reporting and great research. ‘An editor can help you write well; only a journalist can report and research. ~Jason Whitlock 12 Michael Wilbon A widely respected sports journalist, Michael Wilbon is one of the first sportswriters to expand his reach beyond newspapers to radio, television and new media. A Chicago native, Wilbon graduated in 1980 from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. He joined the Washington Post right after graduation and his columns on sports and culture appeared in the newspaper several times per week until he joined ESPN full-ime in 2010. Wilbon has co-hosted FSPN’s television show, Pardon the Interruption since 2001 and serves as an NBA studio analyst for the NBA Countdown. He also contributes to NBA programming across other ESPN platforms, and appears on ESPN radio in Chicago and Washington. Wilbon has been recognized by Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists, as the top sports columnist in America; he was inducted in the Washington D.C. Sports Hall of Fame; he and his PTI co-host, Tony Kornheiser, received the Washington Post's Eugene Meyer Award; and he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists. There’s a difference between being a journalist and a TV personality, a difference between being a journalist and a writer. This project is for people who want to be journalists. Great journalists. Jason Whitlock Wendell Smith Wendell Smith, an early black pioneer in sports journalism, began his career in 1937 with the Pittsburgh Courier, a black newspaper. While covering Negto league teams of the era, he campaigned for the integration of the Major Leagues. On May 7, 1945, Smith attended a press conference during which Brooklyn Dodger executive Branch Rickey announced the formation of a new all-black baseball league. Rickey, after the conference, pulled Smith aside and asked him for the name of a black player good enough to break baseball’s color barrier. Smith responded, “Jackie Robinson.” Smith later wrote for the Chicago Herald-American, a white-owned newspaper. Before writing for the Herald American, he told his bosses, “I’m not going to just write about blacks in sports. If you want me to be a sportswriter here I'm going to write about all sports, and I’m going to do it fairly.”” Smith subsequently became sports anchor Chicago television platform WGN and penned a weekly column for the Chicago Sun-Times. He died of pancreatic cancer in 1972. In 1993, he was posthumously awarded the J. G. Taylor Spink Award an honor placing him in the Baseball Hall of Fame a year later. 15 Write on Monday what everyone else will think to write on Friday. Jason Whitlock THE BLUEPRINT This project will stand as a journalistic example of capitalism at its highest form, capitalism that exploits market demands while strengthening a community that has struggled to find a collective positive voice for the better part of four decades. A consequence of integration has been the devastation of black media outlets, particularly black print publications, which had long served as the hubs for coaversation, engagement, thought and cultural activity for African-Americans, ‘Throughout the first 70 years of the 20th century, the best and brightest African-American minds and writers worked for black newspapers. These minds fought for racial equality while also fearlessly policing social norms for African-Ameticans. Sam Lacy, a 60-year employee of Baltimore's Afro- American newspaper, possessed one of these brilliant minds. He used his platform/bully pulpit to fight for the integration of Major League Baseball. He laid the foundation for Jackie Robinson’s transformative baseball career, which laid the foundation for Dr. Martin Luther King’s civil-rights movement a decade later. Lacy was a great journalist. He never bowed at the feet of the athletes he covered. He criticized Robinson for reporting to spring training 15 pounds overweight. He was no fan of Jack Johnson’s behavior outside the ring. He sipped Jesse Owens for not addressing race issues. Integration has muted black journalists’ collective voice. Working for mainstream outlets, too often the most talented black journalists are fearful of policing social norms and ctiticizing black athletes and entertainers. What was seen as tough love while working for a black newspaper is interpreted as selling out when working for a mainstream outlet. Integration also gutted black print publications of talent. The best flocked to mainstream outlets and bigger paychecks, leaving a diluted, inexperienced and overworked talent pool to lead the discussion of cultural issues at black publications. The exodus of talent also led to an exodus of readers. Black newspapers lost much of their congregations, choirs and reach. Sam Lacy no longer has a church, and African-Americans no longer have an effective black intellectual hub, at least not a written one. Black talk radio and BET are inferior substitutes for written content. Substance is written first, spoken second. A first draft of history is critical in determining a future course of 17 Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it ts the only thing that ever has. -Margaret Mead action. Talk radio and BET have produced intellectual hubs that focus on hip hop and celebrity culture. The top websites directed at a black audience are worldstarhiphop.com,mediatakeout.com, bossip.com, hotnewhiphop.com, globalgrind.com, hiphopdx.com. The Huffington Post blog “Black Voices” is another top website. But it’s all commentary. It lacks the other essential ingredients of journalism. TheGrio.com and theroot.com are inspired but inferior, relying primarily on rehashes of other outlets‘ reporting and predictable liberal commentary that refuses to address some of black America’s most debilitating pathologies. The lack of substance and tough love and the focus on hip-hop are the reasons Jay Z and other rappers have moved ahead of LeBron James and other athletes as the top icons in black culture. This is inappropriate and unhealthy. The values associated with sports are closely aligned to the values that best represent America: Hard work. Patriotism. Sacrifice. Teamwork. Fairness. These values are not found in hip hop and/or music/celebrity culture. Restoring LeBron James and other deserving athletes (regardless of color) to their traditional role as leaders of America’s popular culture is good business and the right thing to do. ‘The Undefeated, backed by the Worldwide Leader in Sports, can be a critical tool in accomplishing these goals and strengthening televised sports as a cultural force. Black people love social media. We tweet and Facebook at a level higher than other ethnic groups. We watch television at a higher rate than other ethnic groups. We are ripe for a website that capitalizes on our passion for the Internet, social media and television. ESPN is the ideal parent company for this project. No media company has had the wherewithal and resolve to commit to diversity as steadfastly and effectively as ESPN. Its also the rare television company that has never wavered on its commitment to written content. This project is the perfect vehicle to capitalize on those commitments. ESPN understands sports and television significantly better than all of its competitors. Football, basketball, baseball, etc. are televised drama no different from Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and American Idol. Reality TV and realistic, scripted TV dramas ate a reaction to sports’ power with Nielsen ratings. Bill Simmons and ESPN have been at the forefront of writing about and analyzing sports through the TV lens. Jason Whitlock and The Undefeated will take this brand of journalism to the next level. The athletes, rappers, television and movie stars who resonate most with African-Americans will be analyzed in the same pot. The social 19 News is what someone wants suppressed. Everything else is advertising. The power is to set the agenda. What we print and what we don’t print matter a (ot. -Katharine Graham 20 policies (drug war, mass incarceration) and the social cancers (single parenthood, poor education) that impact the athletes, rappers and acting stats will all be explored and defined through reporting, analysis and commentary. We will be the hub, the conversation leader. Capturing the attention of Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey and other black talk radio hosts is critical. They’re Sam Lacy at the moment. We must make them dependent on.us. They speak directly and indirectly to the wives, mothers, fathers, gitlftiends, uncles and friends of the athletes we will influence. We want that audience. Harvey is a super-talented comedian. Joyner is humorous. Our website must reflect their sensibilities in terms of being a mix of serious intellectual challenge and a place to have 2 good time and laugh out loud. We will have causes. We will take a position against use of the N-word, and write stories that hammer home these beliefs. We will get Holcombe Rucker, the tireless education advocate and namesake of the legendary Rucker Park league, into the Basketball Hall of Fame. We will strengthen and support the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The museum is based in Kansas City, where Whitlock has deep roots and strong connections with the people running the museum. Partnering with the museum is a natural play for us. Wee will support their annual Legacy Awards dinner. In the past, they've had trouble getting A frican-American baseball players to come to KC to accept the awards. With our support and ingenuity, the Legacy Awards should become a must-attend event. To accomplish these ambitious goals, The Whitlock website must be staffed by a strong core of experienced, committed, talented print journalists supported by 2 SEAL Team-in-training of six to ten youngsters willing to make the necessary sacrifices to be the next Ralph Wiley, Michael Wilbon, Wendell Smith or Bryan Burwell. Sam Lacy believed in diversity and integration. So does this website. We can’t reach the audience we want without making room for the daughters of Sam Lacy and his non-black supporters. The site will be black, inclusive and highly successful. 21 Show me somebody who is always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic, and 1 will show you somebody who hasn't the faintest idea what the heck is really going on. -Mike Royko CORE TENETS Thought Leadership — We will make ESPN a thought leader on the single most important issue in American history: race. Impactful Journalism — We believe that great journalism is characterized by the search for truth. This site will be defined by excellent journalism. Original Thinking — We will take the time to report and thoughtfully examine relevant and resonant topics to present a unique perspective on the issues our audience finds most compelling. Truth Telling — We will reflect on and expose the contradictions inherent in African-American culture and the country at large in order to empower our audience and advocate for our betterment. Synergy — We will capitalize on and maximize our relationship with ESPN.com by maintaining regular communication with digital decision makers in Bristol and keeping them informed of our plans and schedule. We will look for, create and take advantage of opportunities for existing ESPN talent to contribute to the site in ways that extend our reach and enhance the talent’s brand. Compelling Over Comprehensive -- We will emphasize quality over quantity by operating outside of the news cycle to present the most creative, thoughtful and entertaining content. Getting Social — We will interact with our audience in a way that reflects their active engagement across social media and other platforms. Reflecting the Culture -- From LeBron James to Steve Harvey, from Michelle Alexander to Michelle Obama, from Richard Sherman to Kanye West, this site will reflect the sensibilities of our diverse audience. Developing New Voices — We will identify the media industry’s next generation of talent and give them the platform and guidance to realize their full potential. Strategic Advocacy — The site will be a champion for the causes that are most impactful for people of color with the goal of positively affecting the community we address. 23 As an essayist 1 don't believe in the fiction of an anonymous observer. Rather than the sham of objectivity, 1 think you should put your perspective up front. That's only fair to the reader. -Ralph Wiley CONTENT MODULES 1. Game plan: This section of the site will list the mission statement and editorial goals. There will be a statement declaring our interest in strategic advocacy. The masthead and list of contributors will live here. And there will be an ongoing glossary for certain words, phrases and colloquialisms specific to Black culture that will appear regularly throughout the site. 2. Jason Whitlock: ‘The site’s editor-in-chief has spent 20 years building a sports-writing brand built on covering the intersection of sports, race and culture. His work exemplifies the core tenets that will drive the site. This bucket will house Whitlock’s columns, podcasts, TV appearances, radio interviews, detailed bio and relevant information. 3. Sports: The site will focus on the sports most important to African- Americans — the NFL, the NBA, NCAA football and basketball, and any sports news events/athletes relevant to our audience. We also will carve out a unique brand as the authority on Latino athletes, particularly those excelling in Major League Baseball, MMA and boxing. 4, LeBron Project [MAY LAUNCH IN FALL 2015]: The site will take the position that LeBron James is no longer in pursuit of Michael Jordan’s status as the greatest basketball player of all time. LeBron’s target is bigger. He is pursuing Muhammad Ali, arguably the most influential athlete of the 20th Century. James’ move back to Cleveland is about empowering his inner circle to execute their business and charitable interests and LeBron’s vision of being a global role model. As a site, we want to be the source on LeBron James the man. We want to assign a reporter to live in Akron and cover LeBron James Inc. This will be the site’s signature sports project. The reporter assigned to this project will be supported by an editor and Jason Whitlock, who has relatively close ties with Maverick Carter, Rich Paul and others within James’ inner circle. 5. Uplift: It’s critical that an clement of the site focuses on the redemptive and heroic stoties involving black and Latino athletes. Athletes and fans often claim that negative stories get more attention than positive ones when it comes to athletes of color. It’s essential the site balance Whitlock’s edgy and cynical tone with an uplifting storyteller. People like to share positive stories through social media. For lack of a better description, the site 25 There comes a time when silence is betrayal. -Martin Luther King Jr. needs a black Rick Reilly, Joe Posnanski, Mitch Albom, a highly skilled reporter/writer who makes the site feel warm and fuzzy. Content in this bucket will be sure to generate significant audience engagement and traffic. 6. Culture: This content bucket will complement ESPN’s established and powerful connection between the sports and entertainment worlds. For Afcican-Americans, the cultural link that binds the community together is powerful. Black people love to gather around culturally significant entertainment releases and celebrity figures to consume the content, to discuss the bold-faced names and to feel joined in a relevant and rich cultural context. Few outlets consistently cover African-American releases and celebrities in a credible and cool way. There is a unique connection between Black stars and the social issues most relevant to this site’s audience. In the African-American culture, stars have historically held significant positions in the civil rights movement, aad continue to serve today as mouthpieces for the community at large. There will be tremendous advertiser and sponsor support for this fun and entertaining content as there is always a steady stream of industry releases. 7. Justice: You cannot properly cover the African-American experience without covering the criminal justice system. The events in Ferguson this summer highlight the need for a reporter with knowledge of, sources within and a historical perspective on African-Americans and the legal system. From mass incarceration to the war on drugs to stop and frisk to stand your ground, the site must produce regular big-picture pieces that examine African-Americans’ uneasy relationship with our criminal justice system. “Justice” extends beyond criminality. It also signals the site’s commitment to advocate on behalf of people of color for recognition, equality and respect throughout the American landscape. 8, HBCU PROJECT [LAUNCH IN FALL 2015]: Establishing relevance with Historically Black Colleges and Universities is imperative. Two interns/scholars from an HBCU will collaborate on a three-plank project: 1. Writing for and maintaining a daily blog that covers an essential narrative for football and basketball. Example: August thru January “The Black QB Project.” January thru May “Black Basketball Coaches.” 2. Maintaining the daily “Mic Check” blog, which is monitoring black radio shows for interesting content that can be highlighted on the site. 3. Maintaining the weekly Divine Nine Top 10 men’s and women’s Step Teams. 27 Write on Monday what everyone else will think to write on Friday. -whitlock This content bucket will support and expand ESPN’s current Black History Month and Martin Luther King Day content plans. 9. Engage: This site will not just offer information to our readers; we will also capitalize on African-Americans’ proactive levels of engagement by giving our audiences a platform to interact with us. Through a variety of editorial franchises that will live primarily in this content bucket, reader will be able to share their perspective and let us know what is most important to them, The initial editorial franchises will be: 1. Keep It Hundred, a curated Twitter-esque forum/feed that is comprised of 100-word riffs where our readers and staff interact and debate our content and topics of the day. 2. The Open Three, reader /user-generated three-minute-maximum video commentaries. 3. The Chin Check, a guest column from our readers that will function as a full response and/or counter to content published by our site. 4, Daily Polls, an opportunity for readers to weigh in on a topical question of the day. 5. Events, as the site develops an events calendar, information about the happenings and related content will live here. The site should have a significant presence at events such as the NABJ Conference, NBA All-Star Weekend, The Super Bowl, panel discussions at HBCUs, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. 10. Video/Podcast: A frican-Americans like to engage in multi-form content online. The most popular sites for this audience lead with video, and we believe that a robust video platform will engage our target demographic in a very meaningful way. Primarily, this site will capitalize on ESPN’s tremendous video creation capabilities and archives, and we will be able to create a powerful video platform through existing ESPN content. Original video content will also be important for this site. We would like to develop a relationship with ESPN Films in order to eventually produce original shorts, documentaries and features. The site can involve well-known African- ‘American directors to execute these projects. As well, we can use our video content to showcase the long list of African-American talent currently at ESPN. Through a seties of high-level “Open Three” videos as well as other opportunities, the company’s roster of proven and popular personalities can have a voice. In addition, we will clip and host all of Whitlock’s television appearances. As well, Whitlock’s Real Talk podcasts will live in this content bucket. We will also develop on-staff talent who will guest on Whitlock’s podcasts and eventually have their own. 29 The truth is on our side. We should not fear the truth. It is our best defense. -Whitlock 30 WRITING PHILOSOPHY We're respectful of the news, but we're not a news-driven website like ESPN.com. Our job is to be unique and to give ESPN something that can’t be found anywhere else. Our dream scenario is to cteate and drive our own news cycle with original reporting and writing. Our daily “cover story” is our chance to be great and original every day. As it relates to our high-impact stories, we should be asking these five questions: 1. Is this smart? 2. Is this original? 3. Does this educate our base? 4. Does this put us ahead of the curve and drive conversation? 5. Does this reflect our belief we are the key to our salvation? The 7 elements necessary for a good story: ~ Clear, concise writing. ~- Big idea(s) -- Clever turn of phrases -- New information, insight, reporting -- Beautiful writing, painted pictures that take you to a scene ~- Evoke emotion ~- anger, joy, sadness, reflective, laughter -- Hook the reader early with a memorable lede 31 Smart people don’t take good advice. They follow it. -whitlock Story construction: Idea, Reporting, Conclusion Idea: This is the first 300 to 1000 words of a story. This is your lede- utgraph rolled into one. It’s the explanation of what's about to be explored. Reporting: This is the next 600 to 6000 words. The reporting that backs up your idea. Conclusion: This is the final 200 to 2000 words. This is the summary of your idea and reporting, You tie things together. Save a surptise piece of perspective for your conclusion. Example: Geography’s impact on black leaders in the Barkley piece. 33 The why is what makes journalism an adult game. The why is what makes policy coherent and useful. The why is what transforms bureaucrats and foot soldiers and political leaders into viable instruments of rational and affirmative change. The why is everything and without it, the very suggestion of human progress becomes a cosmic joke. -David Simon EXAMPLES OF GREAT CONTENT Investigative ‘The Case For Reparations, by Ta-Nehisi Coates http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for- reparations /361631/ Column Why Black Folks Can’t Breathe, by Jason Whitlock hwwp://espn.go.com/espa/story/_/id/11984741 /whitlock-why-black-folks- breathe Sports Issue Uncontested: The Life Of Donald Sterling, by Peter Keating http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story2id=4187729 Culture ‘The Stages Of What Happens When ‘There's Injustice Against Black People, by Awesomely Luvvie http://www.awesomelyluvvie.com/2014/12/stages-injustice-against-black- people.html Guest Column Blackward Thinking, by Carl Banks https: //mediumn.com/the-cauldron/blackward-thinking-e9d4fe07ce3c Q&A Chris Rock Talks To Frank Rich About Ferguson, Cosby And What ‘Racial Progress’ Really Means hetp:/ /www.vulture.com/2014/11 /chtis-rock-frank-rich-in- conversation. html Profile Michael Jordan Has Not Left The Building, by Wright Thompson http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/page/Michael-Jordan/michael-jordan- not-left-building Meme Odell Beckham Jr, Catch Memes http://www.sicom/extra-mustard/2014/1 1/24/odell-beckham-; memes# catch- 35 The fate of millions of people—indeed the future of the black community itself—may depend on the willingness of those who care about racial justice to re-examine their basic assumptions about the role of the criminal _fustice system in our society. -Michelle Alexander ~UNDEFEATED STAFF PRESENTATIONS ESTABLISHING/MAINTAINING SOURCES JERRY BEMBRY EVERYBODY IS IMPORTANT Establish relationships with everyone, from the star player to the last guy on the bench. Get to know the assistant coaches, video coordinators and trainers. All can provide valuable information. STAY CONNECTED/DON’T BE A STRANGER Make attempts to meet with your sources on a regular basis. If you can’t meet with them one- con-one, call them. And don’t just reach out to your sources when you are in need. Michael Wilbon makes attempts to see all of the top teams when they come to town. He reaches out to all of the top players and coaches. That helps in the post season, when he’s asking those individuals for information and requesting one-on-one interviews. CONNECT WITH THE INNER CIRCLE OF THE PEOPLE YOU COVER It might be an agent, a family member ot a good friend. The inner circle is often the key to great information. ESTABLISH A LIST Make a list of names that include sources you have, sources you want to have and sources you dream of having—but seem out of reach. And make an effort each day to reach our to people on that list. That will help develop and maintain relationships. RESPECT OFF THE RECORD If you burn a source, that person will quickly become an ex-soutce. Make sure to establish the rules of off-the-record/background up front. FOLLOW UP Make sure you send links to stories to your source. In this age of the Internet, not all stories are easily found. THE WARNING If you write a negative/ctitical piece, alert the subject in advance Athletes might feel betrayed if _fhey are blindsded. Failure to alert them about a negative story might impact the slasionship. 37 CONCISE SENTENCES & ACTIVE VERBS BRANDO SIMEO STARKEY ABCs Accuracy Brevity Clarity Accuracy Avoid generalizations Spell names and titles correctly Avoid exaggerations Don’t inflate things beyond their importance. Look at things for what they are. A staff meeting is not a summit conference. Distinguish fact from opinion Check facts and sources for accuracy and reliability Brevity Make every word count Rewrite wordy phrases Reduce redundant phrases Clarity Write thoughts in logical order Be specific Choose direct words Use words correctly Reread, Brevity Strunk & White “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.” Brevity Good writing is good editing 38 And when you finish editing your work, ge-back-end-edit again. After that, ge back-and-edit some more. A boss may never tell you he/she loved your letter or resume, but ones that are tightly written and-welLeomposed-will leave an impression. Because of the fact that people benefited from reading my article, I deeided-to write- wrote another. Brevity Mindset Can this sentence be shorter? Just because a sentence says what you want doesn’t mean it says it best Be critical! One less word = make the change every time Brevity Nominalization = using nouns instead of verbs Make a decision = decide Came to the conclusion = conclude Consideration is being given = consider Brevity Whether or not ~ whether Starting sentences or clauses with “there is” “there are” “it is” There is something to be gained by working slower. We gain by working slower. More on this later Brevity Any use of it where it isn’t a pronoun Ieate all my food. Good Tt was dark when Cindy went to sleep. Cindy went to sleep at nightfall. Shorter 39 Brevity Sentences that start with you. Think about writing them as. a command. You can look downstairs to see an amazing sight. Look downstairs to see an amazing sight. Brevity Strunk & White Ie appears = apparently He is a man who = he Ina hasty manner = hastily This is a subject that = this subject The reason why is that = because Active Verbs Strong writing is the work of subjects and verbs. Clear/Correct subject + Strong verb = makings of a forceful sentence Bad/Incorrect subject + weak verb = ineffectual writing Wrong subject Wrong/Weak Verb We're a little more than a month away from the Kings of Baby-making music releasing their fourth CD. The Kings of baby-making music will release their fourth CD in about a month. Fewer words Active Verbs Active voice over passive voice Exception: what's the subject Story on Barkley; Barkley should be the subject of most sentences White people on campus treated Barkley well Barkley was treated well by white people on campus Active Verbs Try to rewrite sentences that have weak verbs. State of being verbs Is, am, are, 40 EDITORS’ AND WRITERS’ DON'TS JOHN HASSAN When a writer hands in what appears to be a rough draft. It’s unprofessional and lazy. Writers should be willing to cut their own work before handing it in. A good writer knows he doesn’t have to include everything he uncovers in a story. Just the best stuff that tells the story most pointedly and succinctly. Tt bugs me when a writer gets facts wrong, misspells names, uses clichés, and doesn't use every word to serve the purpose of her story. Ignores a word-count mandate. Or it’s just simply way too long. Some times a long story just means the writer didn’t do a self-edit. Files past deadline. Relies too heavily on quotes. Sends in multiple changes after the piece has already gone through the editing process. Writes a story with info/details/quotes that steps all over a piece assigned to another writer or is simply repeating or covering what another writer has written previously. Doesn’t want to listen to editorial guidance. Wants to be the writer AND editor of his/her own story. ‘Tries to be provocative, hoping the editor might let it slide. Doesn’t understand that part of the editor’s role is to save a writer from himself. I'm not happy when a writer spends a bunch of unnecessary time and energy “what-if"ing a story at every possible turn — what if this person says this? What if I learn that? Just stop. The answer to your "what if" question usually lies in more reporting. So just go do that. And then we can talk more. 43 When writers make me explain the importance of talking to more than just the subject of the story. T'm not happy when a writer pushes deadline and doesn't communicate with me. She vanishes and keeps me guessing. It's rude -- not just to an editor, but to the copy editor waiting on that story and the page 1 team and the sport groups and the social group waiting to post it... There's a chain of people you're keeping waiting. Don't. Let your editor know what's going on. ‘There's a difference between what you think/suspect and what you know. Report, then write what you know and can support because of your reporting. I'm troubled when writers don't keep an open mind when reporting. Pitch an idea and proceed with a thesis, but keep an open mind. The story you want to write might not be there — but your reporting might produce an even better story. Be open to that. Stay off email with sources and subjects when possible. The best reporters I know rarely use it. 44 C SCENE & DETAIL JESSIE WASHINGTON * As reporters we have to develop an eye for it. It takes practice. You need a consistent way to record the scene and detail at the time. It doesn’t work to try and remember it later. I use a notebook and write down absolutely everything, then choose the best 10 percent later for the story. Others use photos or videos from their phone. But you have to record everything. * Example of the above: The AP story that described what's on the top shelf of Mark McGwire’s locker. If the reporter had not written it down, the steroid era might not have unfolded the way it did. * Make recording scene and detail part of every reporting thing you do. Write down details about the people you interview, the places you go to interview them, what their voices sound like, everything—even if you don’t expect to use it. * Record other things besides what you see—sounds, smells, temperatures, tactile sensations, ete. * Example: The lead to Jerry’s story about the woman in Iraq, The smell of the rooftop tar. * GET OUT OF THE OFFICE. GET OFF THE PHONE. * Once you have amassed the details, carefully choose which ones to use. ‘The details need to reveal something about the subject or theme. Detail just for the sake of detail is annoying and slows down the story. * Example: In the Barkley story’s church scene, the sound of jingling coins during the collection illustrates the poverty of the congregation. On the other hand, we did not use detail from the TNT studio or the Auburn campus. * Final point: To get an eye and a feel for scene and detail, read, read, and read some more. Read books—they MUST create scene and detail. We must do it too. 45 Change is certain. Growth is optional. - Anonymous A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. - Jackie Robinson ‘He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. - Muhammad Ali Failure is not fatal. But failure to change might be. ~John Wooden