October 5th, 2016 by Matt Goisman
September 1st, 2016 by Matt Goisman
On the one hand, August was a kinda light month for me in terms of total bylines. On the other hand, my final story of the month was one of the more fun reporting projects of my career, as I got to delve deep into the world of competitive Quidditch – a sport that, like ultimate, I never thought I’d be paid to write about.
Anyway, it was a nice break, and one I’m sure I’ll pine for once the insanity of the fall high school season gets underway (which it already technically has, as I spent part of Thursday’s shift transcribing varsity golf scores).
Here’s everything I wrote last month for the Cape Cod Times.
August 2nd, 2016 by Matt Goisman
Structure is critical to journalism. The standard structure is called the “inverted pyramid,” the idea being to have every subsequent sentence be slightly less critical than the one before, so that no matter where the story is cut off – conceivably even after the opening paragraph – the reader still gets all the critical information.
I use the inverted pyramid as a general guideline to how I cover a game, but it’s not the straight decrease in importance you might find in a news story. I start with the most important moment, then work my way forward chronologically to the end as a way to show why that moment was the most critical. If I have background information that I think is relevant, I’ll bring it in early, if for no other reason than to minimize the drier play-by-play.
Features don’t typically follow the inverted pyramid, and every feature is structured slightly different. Some will work chronologically through the subject’s life, others will bounce back and forth between the past and present, while others will introduce a theme and then structure the feature around that.
For most of my features, developing a structure comes easily. But occasionally the story I’m trying to tell doesn’t lend itself automatically to one structure or another. Sometimes the parts of the story are so modular that multiple sequences of events are possible, and a lot of times the best order doesn’t become clear until the whole thing is written.
The last story here – which was good enough to get onto page A1 of a Sunday edition – was one of those “modular” features. I agonized repeatedly over whether certain parts worked better earlier or later, whether transitions successfully got the reader from one section to the next, and if I devoted enough time to all the different elements of the story I knew had to be there.
I’m still not sure if there wasn’t some alternate format that would’ve made my feature even better, but hopefully the effort I put into it comes across to the readers. I genuinely think it’s one of the strongest features I’ve ever written (it’s also one of the longest). Plus, it brings me one step closer to my career goal of covering the Olympics.
Here’s that, plus everything else I wrote in July for the Cape Cod Times.
July 1st, 2016 by Matt Goisman
I don’t have some big lesson or story to report this time – covering a bunch of sectional championships, state semifinals and state championships in rapid succession was pretty exhausting, but writing about local teams winning it all is probably my favorite thing to do as a sports reporter, so I can’t really complain. And as much as I enjoy the talent on display in the Cape Cod Baseball League, I find myself kind of longing for the relative simplicity of high school sports again.
Of course, I’m sure that once the fall season gets underway, I’ll just start longing for the lighter workload of just five Cape League games on any given night.
Anyway, here’s everything I wrote in June for the Cape Cod Times.
The older we get, I think, the more the idea of “legacy” enters our everyday thoughts. The legacy we leave for our families, our workplaces and industries, or our communities – the closer the end gets, the more we wonder what we’ll leave behind.
The Best American Sports Writing 2015 is the 25th entry in Glenn Stout’s annual anthology series. The forward from Stout, who at 58 has spent nearly half his life on this series, is much longer than it typically is, and “legacy” runs throughout.
BASW 15 then segues into an introduction by ESPN writer Wright Thompson. Thompson dovetails Stout by writing about the impact BASW has had on him since his days at the University of Missouri, and how honored he is to be part of its legacy, which is clearly the through line for the ensuing 21 stories.
Very few of the BASW volumes I’ve reviewed to date establish a running theme, but here it works. Seth Wickersham’s “Awakening the Giant,” about NFL Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle, makes Tittle’s severe dementia something that’s robbed him of any awareness of his own legacy, as he no longer recalls almost any of the moments that make him so beloved.
Tommy Tomlinson does the exact same thing with former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith in “Precious Memories.” These two nearly identical tales reinforce and amplify each other’s sadness over how hard it would be to lose your own past, your own legacy. Read the rest of this entry »
June 1st, 2016 by Matt Goisman
One of my most prolific writing months since joining the Cape Cod Times ended with a regatta in which a photographer cussed me out in public for getting seasick and sitting where the captain of the press boat told me to sit. Apparently I should’ve known this would happen after it happened last year – which this person was clearly still pissed about – and insisted on getting to Nantucket through alternate means so as not to get in her way.
I considered blowing up at her on social media about this later, but I decided against it because a) the person in question and I aren’t Facebook friends, so the likelihood of her ever finding out would be minimal, and b) many of my colleagues and editors at CCT and I are Facebook friends, and they probably wouldn’t think it very professional of me to air dirty laundry in a shameless plea for validation from my friends.
So the first two sentences of this post are all I have to say about the incident. I’d still be pissed about it, I ran my first official half marathon a day later and it went great, and as I type this I’m enjoying a week-long vacation. And feeling angry while on vacation is a waste of a vacation.
Anyway, here’s everything I wrote in May.
May 2nd, 2016 by Matt Goisman
I try to produce video at every game I cover this spring. There’s more time in between baseball or softball or lacrosse plays than basketball, making it much easier to take notes and record at the same time and then still produce a decent write-up for the print edition.
I shoot video on my phone, an iPhone 6 Plus, which I know has the battery and space to shoot for 2.5 straight hours, or the length of a high school football game. But because warmer temperatures still haven’t shown up on the Cape, lately my battery tends to get cold and shut down after only about 1-1.5 hours of continuous outdoor shooting.
Usually this means I get until about the fourth or fifth inning. That’s exactly what happened at one of the baseball games I covered below (Falmouth-Nauset, towards the bottom), and unfortunately almost all the scoring happened in the innings after my phone shut off.
I walked to my car, charged up the phone, then resumed recording for the final inning. But I was left with a lot of strikeouts by the winning pitcher and nothing about the offense behind him.
I could’ve scrapped the whole thing, but instead I came up with an alternative idea. I recorded a two-minute postgame interview with the pitcher, who’d performed more than well enough to merit it, then uploaded it and the game footage into my editing software.
Normally I’d write a script and do a voiceover for highlights, like you might see on “SportsCenter.” But this time I separated the interview into separate audio and video components, then systematically replaced portions of the video with shots of him striking someone out or fielding.
It took some fine-tuning to get it all synced up properly, but the end product turned out really, really well. I managed to both take a creative approach to producing multimedia content and fairly represent the game I’d covered. This is definitely a format I’ll use again.
The moral of the story is that a little creativity can turn a minor failure into a major success.
Here’s everything I wrote in April for the Cape Cod Times.
March 31st, 2016 by Matt Goisman
So a buddy of mine from college and I occasionally do these podcasts about comic books and science fiction. They’re fun, often long, and they give me a chance to talk about stuff I sometimes feel like nobody else in my life cares about to the same degree as I do.
My editors at the Cape Cod Times know I do these. I have no idea if they’ve ever listened to any of them, but they’ve explicitly said my doing them is neither a conflict of interest nor a poor reflection of my professional image, and I’m free to continue.
I’m part of the CCT’s “Innovation” team, which is tasked with exploring different technologies and mobile applications that could potentially improve and diversify how we report the news. And at the introductory meeting for the team, higher-ups from the parent company specifically mentioned podcasts as something newspapers should explore.
I never thought these podcasts would impact my career in any way other than as a hobby. But after hearing that, I volunteered to be one of the test cases for a weekly podcast, which I of course devoted to previewing the spring high school sports season on the Cape.
My sports podcast took almost exactly half an hour. It was a fun conversation, barely any “ums” or pauses, and as far as I can tell, what we recorded required barely any editing.
As I was walking back to my desk after, I heard the guy I worked with tell my team leader, “Matt just killed it on the podcast!”
I’m certain my experiences doing these nerdy podcasts on the side made it much easier to do my first professional podcast. I’m confident I’ll get even better at podcasting the more I do it on the side, and should the CCT decide to make podcasting a weekly thing, I’ll be able to help make it a huge success.
The moral of the story: anything you do can advance your career if you think creatively about how to apply it.
The podcast, and everything else I wrote in March, appears below.
March 1st, 2016 by Matt Goisman
After spending most of last month re-posting (or rewriting) old content, Goose’s Gabs is finally back on track with all of my February 2016 writing from the Cape Cod Times. And what a month it was! I got to cover a state swim meet, which I’d never done before, and then wrote my fifth story in less than a year about a local team winning a state championship when I covered Barnstable at the state gymnastics meet this past Saturday.
What made the gymnastics meet even better was an encounter with the mother of one of the gymnasts. I was put on the CCT “Innovation Team” a couple months ago, which is a small team of content-producers and editors who explore different apps, social media, programs and technologies that might be useful for reporters. In theory, our experiences are actually serving as a test case for the parent company, who’ll then come up with guidelines for papers across the country.
The two big technologies I’ve been playing with lately are Periscope, a streaming app related to Twitter, and SnapChat, the photo-sharing app. I’ve created two SnapChat stories so far – one from swimming, one from gymnastics – and during the gymnastics meet a mother came up to me and complimented the photos I’d taken so far.
It seems that a couple of the gymnasts had seen via Twitter that I would be doing this, spread the word, and most of the team followed the CCT SnapChat account so they could see my photos. Even better, they encouraged their parents and families to sign up as well, I think in a few cases even getting them to download an app they wouldn’t otherwise use.
Sure enough, when I looked at the final numbers, I’d gotten about 42 views – more than three times the number who’d viewed my swim photos – and many of them were either Barnstable gymnasts (including some of the best on the team) or shared a last name with Barnstable gymnasts.
We’ll never know if any of this drives traffic to the CCT website, though later we did embed the photos as a slideshow in the digital story. But instances like this, at least to me, are signs that a) we can use SnapChat to reach out to demographics that might not otherwise engage with a newspaper, such as teenagers, and b) promoting our SnapChat account ahead of a big event does generate additional followers and views.
Those are all good things. And as a final good thing in February, I won third place for a sports story at the New England Newspaper Association awards banquet!
Anyway, here’s everything I wrote.
Doug Fraser named daily journalist of the year (I didn’t write this, but I’m mentioned for winning an award!)
Some “Best American Sports Writing” introductions imbue their volumes with early energy. Others are fine, if forgettable.
The Best American Sports Writing 2000 is one of those unfortunate volumes with a detrimental introduction. Dick Schaap spends more than half of it mostly talking about how many famous friends he has and how cool that makes him, then gives a perfunctory final thought about how sports stories should always be entertaining, and when possible funny.
The problem is, none of the BASW 2000 stories are funny. What’s worse, too many of them fall flat.
James Hibberd’s “Poker Face” is about professional poker player Johnny Chan, but the essay doesn’t seem to have much to say beyond that he plays a lot of poker, and you kind of walk away from the story thinking, “so what?” Jeanne Marie Laskas’ “America is a Bull” is about a neither famous nor innovative bullrider, and his struggles aren’t enough to carry the central metaphor of the title.
And Jonathan Miles’ “Ay Caramba!…” is one of the worst fishing stories to appear in a BASW volume. Its lack of a point is matched only by a dense, meandering writing style that renders scenes all but indecipherable.
But by far the flattest of them all is Stephen Rodrick’s “Blown Away,” about a machine gun show and the militia communities surrounding Knob Creek in Kentucky.