Weekly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

Furloughs are really annoying. They shrink my weekly hours from 40 to 32, and since I work a weird schedule – nights followed by days, for instance – it gets pretty easy to burn hours faster than I realize. Then suddenly I’m on the last day before the forced day off with an entire story to do: conduct the interview/cover the event, shoot some pics, edit the pics, write cutlines for the pics, write the story, edit the story, post everything online… and with about an hour and half left of available hours.

Overtime is usually available, but I don’t like putting added pressure on my editor by asking for it. Plus, I have to explain what happened (slightly humiliating), then guess how many extra hours I need (somewhat difficult).

I had a furlough this week, and I also spent an entire day in Oklahoma City at a sports journalism workshop. So with only three days on the job, this particular chunk of stories is kinda light.

Oh well – I’ll just have to blog more during the week!

Billy Lee and Tina Hamilton Defend Home Turf at McAlester Rodeo

For Parkers, Bowfishing a Family Affair

Hartshorne’s Doyle Wilson Finding Few Billiards Opponents

Parker Family Wins State Bowfishing Championship

Five Thoughts from the Opening Ceremonies

The beautiful copper-leaves Olympic cauldron capped an awesome Opening Ceremony to the 2012 Summer Olympics. (Reuters: Dylan Martinez)

I love the Olympics – always have, always will. I will cover them as a journalist some day, and until then I’ll happily watch on TV.

The Olympics bring the entire planet together. No other sporting event accomplishes that, not even the World Cup (does Lesotho or Tuvalu really give a shit about the World Cup?), and maybe nothing outside of sports does that, either.

The Games of the XXX Olympiad (a.k.a the 2012 Summer Olympics) began Friday night with the Opening Ceremony. Here are my five thoughts on the event.

5) London’s Opening Ceremony: more art, less intimidation than Beijing’s. The 2008 Opening Ceremony was all about intimidation. Electronically unrolling video scrolls, 2008 drummers all in perfect unison, sideways-running aerial torch-lighters – all of that was China’s way of saying, “Look at how much better we are than all of you? Who else could do this?”

Artistic director Danny Boyle couldn’t match the technological achievements of 2008 (though I loved the aerial rings), but he also rejected its mentality. Instead, his 2012 Opening Ceremony depicted England as a driving force of the Industrial Revolution, a breeding ground for so many rock stars, a producer of some of the most iconic characters in children’s literature (from Peter Pan to Harry Potter). Really, only a TARDIS was missing, and I guess Boyle lumped all of Britain’s pop culture together into James Bond.

Everything about the 2008 Opening Ceremony seemed scary, off-putting, maybe even garish. The 2012 Opening Ceremony seemed welcoming, charming. At-times pastoral (or old-fashioned), but always inclusive. Boyle showed England’s place in the world, whereas Zhang Yimou showed China’s place above it.

And Boyle’s copper leaves forming the Olympic cauldron looked absolutely stunning.

Continue reading Five Thoughts from the Opening Ceremonies

Complicity Proves Costly for Penn State

NCAA president Mark Emmert’s punishments for Penn State Monday may have been stringent, but the severity of the crimes the school knew of but did nothing to stop absolutely merited them. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The NCAA handed down its sentence against Pennsylvania State University Monday. It’s just about the most severe sentence possible short of actually suspending the football program.

$60 million in fines, most of which will go to causes that help victims of child abuse. A four-year ban from postseason play. Forty fewer scholarships over the next four years.

And every win the Nittany Lions recorded between 1998 and 2011. All because of Penn State’s complicity regarding Jerry Sandusky’s pedophilia.

Is it a harsh sentence? Yes.

Does it punish some people — former players, most notably — who honestly had no knowledge this was going on? Yes.

But is the sentence more than Penn State deserves? No. Not in the slightest. This crime is far too heinous to merit anything less.

Had Jerry Sandusky’s crimes remained unhidden until 2011, perhaps the school would’ve deserved more leniency. But the Freeh Report found that these horrors extended far beyond just serial rapist Sandusky — a man who will spend the rest of his life rottng in jail, at the conclusion of which he will immediately begin spending eternity rotting in hell.

School administrators, trustees and football coaches alike knew about Sandusky, yet they allowed it to continue. Why? Because Sandusky helped PSU earn money, and he did so by helping the Nittany Lions win football games.

Continue reading Complicity Proves Costly for Penn State

Weekly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

I learned this week that no matter how enterprising a reporter may be, slow news days will still happen from time to time. With the McAlester High fall season still two weeks away and several story ideas I had falling through at the last moment, I had a few very slow news days this past week.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, and I still got a fair amount done preparing for other stories down the road, but I just finished the week with a little less to show than I would’ve liked.

Such as it is, here’s this week’s roundup.

McAlester’s Dillon Brewer Among Founders Day Winners

PCLL 11 Year Olds Capture State Title

Photo Gallery: McAlester at Play

McAlester Round Up Club Rodeo This Friday and Saturday

Betsy Dew Teaches Self-Defense in All Forms

Photo Gallery: Saturday Night at the McAlester Rodeo

Kevin Youkilis Was Theo Epstein’s First Super-Prospect

More than anything he did in the Majors, Kevin Youkilis heralded the arrival of the Red Sox farm system as one that could create superstar after superstar. (ianonsports.wordpress.com/Sports Illustated)

Former Red Sox Kevin Youkilis wrote a letter to Red Sox Nation Sunday. Youkilis thanked his coaches, his teammates, his family and his fans for what he called the “honor and a privilege to play every home game of my career in Boston before a sold out Fenway Park.”

Classy move by a classy guy, no matter what anyone else may say about his character. But Youkilis brought so much more to the Red Sox than just class.

Youkilis Soared From Game 1

Youkilis’ arrival signaled the beginning of a new age in Red Sox history. From his first game on May 15, 2004 – a 4-0 win over the Blue Jays in which Youkilis batted 2-for-4 with a home run – Red Sox Nation knew they had someone special.

The Red Sox knew it too, putting him on both ALDS and World Series rosters that season. He only appeared in one postseason game, going hit-less in Game 2 of the ALDS, but Terry Francona had him stick around, just in case.

Youkilis played with the fire and grit Red Sox fans have always loved and identified with, making him an instant favorite. “Yoooouk” chants at Fenway Park filled became as commonplace as Fenway Franks or Wally the Green Monster.

Youkilis may never have been the most popular player on team – David Ortiz pretty much has that role locked down – but he was always a fan favorite.

Continue reading Kevin Youkilis Was Theo Epstein’s First Super-Prospect

Weekly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

This past week, I learned about furloughs. Basically, they’re unpaid days off we have to take a few times every quarter. Other small-town reporters I know have mentioned them, so I think they’re an industry-wide phenomenon. But considering how strictly I have to adhere to a 40-hour week, losing eight hours can make avoiding having to ask for overtime really arduous. And when a typical Saturday involves four hours in the morning and then eight at night, it’s even tougher.

Still, my furlough gave me a chance to explore Tulsa a bit, so there’s always an upside to everything. And I still wrote at least one story for publication every day this past week (except Tuesday, which is my first day of the work-week, making it impossible to write for). Enjoy!

McAlester High School to Offer Soccer in 2013

Low Turnout Doesn’t Cancel Football Camp

Next Level Sports Camp Wraps in McAlester

Pittsburg Founders Day Offers Rodeo & Races

MHS Volleyball Already in Preseason

Pat Vincent Bowls ‘Em Over

Photo Gallery: Founders Day Rodeo in Pittsburg

Josh Ramsey Calls Eagle Hill Disc Golf Course Home

A Lesson Learned, I Guess

If I’d used these expressions a bit more in my story about a middle school basketball clinic, maybe I could’ve avoided two nasty conversations with the high school’s basketball coaches.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a story. It wasn’t much of a story —  the kind a high school sports writer does when it’s summer and there aren’t any games. A few people in the community are bound to benefit from it, so the reporter does it and then moves on.

It was a recap of a shooting clinic for middle schoolers that took place in McAlester. I showed up, snapped some photos, did a quick interview with the director, then wrote it, all in about a three-hour span.

The clinic’s director brought some NBA-level technology with him to help middle schoolers shoot better. I thought that was pretty unique, as did my editor, so the bulk of my story focused on that.

Two days later, I got a phone call from a head coach of one of McAlester High School’s basketball teams (I won’t say which team, nor say coach’s gender). Coach A, for lack of a name, had heard second-hand that my article had a disparaging quote about MHS basketball in it, and so wanted me to read the quote aloud.

I warned Coach A that asking me to read one quote out of an entire article was as unfair and uninformative as hearing about from others, but the coach insisted. I could’ve refused, but that didn’t occur to me at the time, and it probably would’ve come off as cowardly. So I read the quote aloud.

Coach A flipped out on me, asking if I’d bothered to look up MHS’s record last season before printing a quote that called the program “bad.” I didn’t and the coach flipped out further. I barely got in a dozen words before the coach hung up on me.

Continue reading A Lesson Learned, I Guess

Brookline Access Television: Brookline-Natick Baseball

I promised y’all I’d post my last (for now) foray into broadcast sports reporting once it went live on BATV.org. Well, two months after I covered the Brookline Warriors’ baseball game against the Natick Red and Blue, it finally went live on Brookline Access TV.

Between too many reporters and a broadcast table from which we couldn’t actually see the game, this was easily my most frustrating experience with BATV. Still, I had a lot of fun working with fellow BU sports journalism student Jillian Geib, and as they say, better late than never.

Check it out!

And to download the game and watch it on your own time, click here.


Weekly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

Pick any sports article I’ve ever written, and it’s virtually guaranteed to fall into one of three categories: a recap, an editorial, or a feature. Writing for the McAlester News-Capital, however, I’ve discovered the importance of a fourth type of article: the preview.

I’ve written some previews before, both for upcoming seasons (mostly high school teams) and playoff series (mostly pro), but they’ve never felt as satisfying. I enjoy being part of an event as it happens far more than using stock information and maybe an interview to say that something will happen.

Plus, previews are risky. The event could not happen, even if the preview comes out just 24 hours beforehand, and then I look foolish. I dislike risks that can be avoided, and I hate making mistakes, even those not within my control.

But I’ve come to realize that previews, at least at the community level, are a central part of journalism. My industry has always been at least partly a mechanism for publicity, and small-town newspapers — or at leastmy small-town newspaper — openly acknowledges and functions as an advertising tool.

So in just one week of stories I wrote 2.5 previews (one of an event whose future is in jeopardy but I present as if it will happen), and I followed up two of those previews with recaps of the events. I felt a bit like I was covering the same events twice, but I guess that’s just part of the job.


Wilburton Little Lady Diggers Win State Softball Championship

MHS Junior Jay Gilbertson to Host Skeet Training Clinic Saturday

McAlester’s Kylee Bennett Wins National Rodeo Championship

Eufaula Cove Hosting Fishing Tournament Saturday

Low Turnout Might Cancel Next Level Sports Camp

Beat the heat

Shooters Round the Stations at Eufaula Rod & Gun

Lester Wray Competes at Lake Eufaula

Weekly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

At last, Internet in my house! And what better way to celebrate my return to the WWW than with a new set of stories I wrote for the McAlester News-Capital!

For this particular set of stories, I have challenge for everyone: see if you can figure out, using just the three paragraphs I’m allowed to post online, which of these stories compleeeeeeeetely blew up in my face, teaching me a valuable lesson I will share on Goose’s Gabs once the fallout finally ends.

McAlester’s Ken Miller bowls personal-high 269

Little Miners Football Camp Wraps Up in Hartshorne

Hartshorne’s Keaton Moody Riding High

Tennis Camp Ends With Game Day

Old Navy Farms: Many Fish, Few Customers

Summer No Vacation for McAlester Athletes

Basketball Camp Offers Coaching, Technology

Midget Mafia Wins Hartshorne Coach Pitch Softball Championship

Pittsburg County Little League Prepares for States