I’m about a month away from wrapping up my third football season with the McAlester News-Capital. And while it’s not always easy to see my own improvement, there are a few things I’ve recently noticed that I think show progress:
1) I’m faster: During my first football season, I usually had to get in between 8-9 a.m. Saturday mornings to be able to write all my content and get it paginated on deadline. Now I’m able to do more Friday nights, then drift in around 10-10:30 and still get it all done. I can write a raw gamer (no quotes) for most sports in about 30-40 minutes, then need only about 10-15 minutes to insert the quotes (and that’s if I’m transcribing an interview, not copying and pasting quotes over the phone). It takes me slightly longer to do features, but I’m still faster at that than I used to be.
2) I’m more confident: Two years ago I let a coach dictate the angle of a feature I wanted to do on his team. I recently was at a game where one his players hit a major individual accomplishment, and even though he asked me to downplay that in favor of a story on the team overall, I point-blank and repeatedly told him “No” and that the accomplishment would be both the headline and the first part of the story. I maintained this response even when he grabbed my jacket in what felt like an equally jovial and hostile manner.
3) I manage my time better: I try to avoid requesting overtime when I can, and in the last few months I feel like I’ve needed it far less than I would’ve two years ago (the one exception being the week I had to focus on the football preview magazine, but that’s unavoidable). Despite more or less living at the Jr. Sunbelt Tournament in June, I still finished at most a couple hours over 40, and at least two-thirds of my weeks this fall have ended right at 40. I used to occasionally work off the clock just so I wouldn’t be slammed the next day — now I don’t have to.
Here’s everything I’ve written in the last month.