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.