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

February 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

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.

Boys basketball: Canalmen too much for Rams

Boys basketball: Sandwich rallies to edge Falmouth

High schools: Sturgis schools to host “Sturgis vs. Cancer” night

Boys basketball: St. John Paul II defeats Sturgis West, captures C&I title

High schools: Snow wipes out Friday’s games

Super Bowl Predictions

School basketball: Fraser shoots Mashpee to win over Hull

Boys basketball: 33-point game by Ashworth doesn’t rescue Canalmen in loss to Apponequet

Sturgis East and West unite for cancer fundraiser

High schools: Mariners, Whalers meet with first place on the line

Girls basketball: Carly Whiteside scores 22 points in Barnstable’s first league win since 2013

Girls basketball: Clippers clinch league title with win

School notebook: Sandwich’s Collentro will get her kicks at Stonehill

Boys basketball: Happy berth day for Nauset

Girls basketball: Upper Cape’s Amber DiBona scores 1,000th point in 58-42 win

Hannah and Jack Johnson help Nauset swim team reach new success

Cape Cod Classic: Clippers settle for tie in regular season finale

High schools: Swimmers looking to make a splash

School swimming: Johnson leads Nauset at Div. 2 meet

High school swimming: Nantucket girls 10th, Nauset 17th at state meet

Doug Fraser named daily journalist of the year (I didn’t write this, but I’m mentioned for winning an award!)

Boys basketball: Ford’s 41 leads Mashpee to share of title

School basketball: Falmouth to host Endowment Game

School basketball: Falmouth High edges Falmouth Academy in MIAA Endowment Game

Wrestlers grappling for All-State titles

High schools: Barnstable readies for state gymnastics meet

Red Raiders win fourth straight state gymnastics title

Family ties bind Barnstable’s Spalt

Women’s defending champ conquers windy Hyannis Marathon course

 

December 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

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

School football: Falcons use past to fuel present

School football: Mashpee strength program pays off

School football: Mashpee built to go the distance

TITLE HOPEFUL: Mashpee faces St. Bernard’s in Div. 6 championship

Senior captains help Falcons fly into title game

Dias leads Mashpee Falcons to title 28-8 over St. Bernard’s

Mashpee Falcons claim state football championship

Super Bowl notebook: Junior back Andrade powers up behind Dias

3-day competition draws nearly 3,000 skaters

Boys basketball: Defending league champion SJP II begins season with 66-29 victory

Boys basketball: Migliore hits for 23 points in Sandwich’s triumph

Girls basketball: Currence, Van Voorhis help Falmouth Academy to impressive start

Girls basketball: Seahawks survive Storm, win in OT

Boys basketball: Houston sparks 54-47 win over D-Y

NAVIGATORS’ WAY: Sturgis West comes back to beat Cape Tech

DRAMATIC VICTORY: Mashpee boys basketball tops Falmouth

Girls basketball: St. John Paul II shuts down Sturgis East in C&I victory

High schools: Middle school players essential to Cape athletics

 

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

October 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

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

High school football capsules, 10/2/15

High school football: Couhig the master of Falmouth’s triple option

High school football capsules, 10/3/15

LaFrange, Couhig leads Clippers’ rout

High school football capsules, 10/4/15

ACL showdown: Unbeaten Falmouth faces powerful Marshfield

D-Y’s Andrew Jamiel scores 3 times in win over Nauset

3 dads and a team

High school football capsules, 10/16/15

School football: Lions, Falcons set for battle in Buzzards Bay

GROUND ATTACK: Mashpee football pounds St. John Paul II

Upper Cape 34, Holbrook/Avon 6: Johnson, Allen lead playoff-hopeful Rams to victory

School football: Playoff picture in focus as Falmouth faces D-Y

Upper Cape Tech 32, South Shore Voke 12: Johnson runs for 5 TDs in Rams’ victory

4th-seeded Clippers sail into home playoff game

MEMORABLE WINS: Falmouth football takes playoff opener

September 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

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

Volleyball: Barnstable’s seniors ready to lead Red Raiders toward state title contention

Deflategate reaction: Cape coaches, players rally around Brady

Football: 1 week from opener, Falmouth displays muscle and quickness in scrimmage vs. Middleboro

Girls soccer: New coach Jennifer Peterson building program at Monomoy

High school football: Barnstable, D-Y ready for tonight’s season opener

High school volleyball: 700 wins began in 1988 for Turco

A RUNNING START: Jamiel leads D-Y past Barnstable

School roundup: Dolphins volleyball too big for Lions

SEEMS LIKE HOME: Ratches takes over SJP II volleyball

High school football: Mashpee ready for neighborly game against Falmouth

POWER GAME: Falmouth football beats rival Mashpee

PIKNICK TIME FOR RAIDERS: Barnstable wins field hockey battle

High school football capsules, 9/25/15