July 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

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.

Continue reading July 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

June 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

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.

Boys lacrosse: Falmouth gains South final with win over Sandwich

School baseball: Lions knock out Sharks in Div. 4 South quarterfinals

Baseball Side-by-Side: St. John Paul II 4, Monomoy 2

High school notebook: Camp helps Enneguess find the draw

Historic victory for Sandwich baseball team

Boys lacrosse: Falmouth falls in South final

Harwich slams Hyannis, 12-4

School baseball: Oriola leads St. John Paul II over Mashpee for another Div. 4 South crown

School baseball: St. John Paul II chasing another state title

School tennis: MV girls in state finals

High school tennis: Vineyarders go for second straight title

5-1 win in state semis send two-time defending state champ SJP II to another title game

School tennis: Vineyard repeats as girls state champs

High school notebook: Vineyard, D-Y champs return for state tennis tournament

Top-seeded SJP II goes after 3-peat title

Right up to final pitch, Oriola delivers

Harwich keeps on rolling behind shutout victory over Red Sox

McVey drives in 3 runs, helps Bourne halt losing streak

Hot-hitting Whitecaps total 14 hits in 12-3 win over Hyannis

Cape League Extra: Morris hopes to fit with Falmouth

Cape League notebook: Senzel’s summer pays off

Early attack: Bourne tops last-place Cotuit

Cape Cod Baseball League: Five-run fifth leads Kettleers over Anglers

Cape League Extra: Holba home, for now, in Bourne

Cape League notebook: Byrd returns after summer away

 

May 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

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.

Continue reading May 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

April 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

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.

Continue reading April 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

March 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

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.

Boys basketball: Gibbons scores 23, but Sturgis East falls to Southeastern in Division 4 South Sectional

South Sectional girls basketball: Currence’s 1,000th point helps Mariners roll

High schools: Cape Cod Academy gears up for lacrosse

Division 4 boys basketball: Top-seeded Lions too quick for Bristol-Plymouth

Girls basketball South Sectionals: Falmouth Academy cruises into semifinals with win over St. John Paul II

Girls basketball South Sectionals: Falmouth Academy ready for tourney rematch

Girls basketball South Sectional semifinals: Falmouth Academy’s unbeaten season ends in 57-41 loss to GNB Voke

Boys basketball tournament: St. John Paul II goes down to Cohasset

High schools: Seahawks sailing team heads to Ireland

Barnstable’s gymnastics program emphasizes fun while winning state titles

Tribute: Pratchett meant the (Disc)world to me

Falmouth Academy’s Sarah Stokey conquering Iditarod Sled Dog Race

Podcast: Spring high school sports preview

SJP II’s Oriola to play baseball at Endicott

High schools: Weather or not, spring seasons begin

Family name, hoops create special bond between SJP II’s Katie Wojciechowski and uncle Steve

High school notes: Red Sox to honor Barnstable gymnasts

School baseball: Sturgis West looking to build on success

Sticking from the beginning: D-Y fields girls lacrosse team

November 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

Here’s everything I wrote for the Cape Cod Times in November 2015.

Nauset, Nantucket earn No. 1 rankings in boys soccer

FALCONS MOVE ON in girls soccer playoffs

Football ties a family tradition for Deshaun Dias

School volleyball: Storm serve up playoff win

BLUE CRUSH: Mashpee dominates Blue Hills

School field hockey: Sandwich wins to gain semifinals

High school volleyball: Sturgis East, Sandwich eliminated

High School Football Preview: Mashpee faces familiar foe

Shibles headed to Fairfield, Megnia to UMass

Barnstable sweeps Concord-Carlisle in semis

School Football: Offensive line key to Falcons success

Schools: Three more local athletes sign letters

Barnstable volleyball team ready for battle

Football: Mashpee vs. Essex Tech preview

Barnstable wins 17th state volleyball title

Video: Moment Barnstable volleyball team wins title

Canalmen face Vikings for 85th time

Falcons, Knights play in Cranberry Bowl

For Jamiels, Thanksgiving is D-Y football and family

Sandwich 7, Mashpee 6: Blue Knights edge Falcons with extra point

Girls hockey: Defending state champion Clippers open new season with new coach

August 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

Here’s everything I wrote for the Cape Cod Times in August 2015.

Sweeps day: Harbor Hawks advance in Cape League playoffs

Team Cape Cod ready for another run at World Series

Cape League: Hyannis strikes first in West finals

Spiking for the USA: Olympic volleyball player Megan Easy makes Cape her home

Cape League: Y-D swings early, strikes often

Cape Cod Baseball League: Red Sox cement dynasty with second title

Nauset duo runs for Cape Cod

Cape League: Former U.S. ambassador Bill Richardson pitches for ballpark

High school football: Preseason kickoff is Monday for Cape teams

Running and sliding for charity

Preseason football opening-day sessions attract big numbers

New coach Alfredo Alvarenga focused on developing boys program at Sandwich

All-State cross country runner Callie Schadt hopes to lead Nauset to another ACL title

Mary O’Connor has D-Y field hockey targeting 3rd straight league title

 

July 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

Here’s everything I wrote for the Cape Cod Times in July 2015.

Cape League extra: Harwich’s Johnny Adams has a ‘passion for the game’

Cape League: Extra innings

Cape League: Whitecaps edge Commodores late

Hitting party for Whitecaps

Cape League Extra: Toffey comes home to play for Y-D Red Sox

Cape Cod Baseball League: Red Sox win on Edman walk-off

Extra innings: Cape League notebook

Cape sends two athletes to L.A. for World Games

Cape League: And down the stretch they come

Cape Cod Baseball League: Extra innings

Schiffner gets 500th win

All-Star Cole Billingsley homers in Y-D’s 8-0 win

East makes one run count in win over West

Cape League: Stars shine on Wareham diamond

Cape League All-Star Game: Englert’s plan works to perfection

Cape League: Playoff push under way as season winds down

TITLE SLAM: Firebirds clinch division, President’s Trophy

June 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

Here’s everything I wrote for the Cape Cod Times in June 2015.

School lacrosse: Falmouth Academy girls win tourney opener

Girls lacrosse tournament: Blue Knights knock out Warriors

School baseball: Nichols leads Monomoy

School softball: Hadley Tate carries a big stick for St. John Paul II

High school baseball: Lions pounce on Wildcats in tourney opener

East Division predictions: Y-D Red Sox ready for title defense

Softball: Navigators and Dolphins knocked out

Sharks baseball bites Upper Cape

Cape League season opens with high hopes

Boys tennis South Sectionals: Barnstable knocks off No. 1 Brookline for title

Courageous Championship: grieving Marsh pitches SJP II to South title

Figure skating: Theatre on Ice at HYCC

SJP II baseball team in finals again

UNBEATEN SEASON: Vineyard girls claim tennis title

High school baseball: Lions ready for another state final

Victory caps incredible ride for Lion seniors

Local golf: Clark qualifies on home course

Early slugging for Mariners in 5-3 win over Whitecaps

Local baseball: Team Cape Cod rolls on

May 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

Here’s everything I wrote for the Cape Cod Times in May 2015.

Bucs face Worcester State in elimination game today

New field opens Little League season today

High school girls lacrosse: Blue Knights shut down Red Raiders

Barnstable Little League in the limelight with new complex

High schools: SJP II’s baseball coach Mark Santos will become school’s athletic director July 1

Boys lacrosse: Blue Knights fall to ACL champion Marshfield

Softball: D-Y’s Sammi Feinstein strikes out 10 in 6-0 victory over Falmouth

Sharing the Games: Falmouth mom supports 3-sport daughter through 12 seasons

Jackie Smith pitches SJP II to another win

NCAA baseball: D-Y grad Orava and Falmouth grad O’Rourke back on Cape for college tourney

Girls lacrosse: Falmouth Academy beats SJP II to finish off 14-0 regular season

D-Y hammers Sandwich in softball tourney title game

High school athletics: MIAA to require background checks for officials

Cape Cod Showdown: Knell’s blast leads D-Y over Sandwich

44th annual Figawi: Prefontaine and crew tack on a 28th flag and another adventure to 11-time winner Helios

Softball: D-Y blasts Mashpee, plays for league title today

LACROSSE: D-Y is No. 3, Nantucket No. 4 in boys seedings

Baseball: Mashpee’s win clinches South Shore League Small title

Thousands turn out for Best Buddies Challenge