LEADERSHIP: In fall and spring terms, this desk is typically led by a sports editor and assistant sports editor. In summers, this desk is typically led by only a sports editor. Fall/spring editing duties are divided as editors see fit. An often successful method is to have reporters assigned to a particular editor to build a rapport and trust over time.
STAFF: In fall and spring terms, this desk typically has one senior reporter, two junior reporters and interns as available. In summers, this desk typically has one senior reporter and interns as available.
PLANNING: This desk should hold one meeting a week to plan the next two to three weeks of coverage beyond breaking news events or day reporting. Senior reporters have higher expectations in terms of hours logged and work produced. Organizationally, you need a master budget/calendar system for upcoming coverage as well as games and availabilities of teams that merit regular coverage. Those include every varsity sport offered at OU, and most heavily football, men’s basketball, women’s gymnastics and softball. For football, consider using our football playbook, a document built across five-plus seasons of football coverage best practices, as a foundation of your efforts.
COMMUNICATION: Leaders of this desk should regularly check the main sports email, monitor key newsmakers’ social media accounts and read competitors like The Norman Transcript, The Oklahoman, SoonerScoop, The Athletic and others. Communication should be a blend of in-person where possible and in Slack for broader transparency and understanding throughout the sports editors and sports desk. Often, that manifests in a Slack channel for sports editors and another for the full sports desk, as well as beat-specific channels like football for sports with higher volumes of coverage. It’s especially important for sports editors to communicate and coordinate with editors of other desks when contemplating coverage that falls into gray areas of responsibility. It’s also imperative that sports editors ensure their staffers or themselves are consistently communicating with visual editors about coverage needs and possibilities as well as the process of securing season-long credentials, which the sports editor typically handles.
MINDSET: The most successful sports desks are on their toes, actively seeking out news, rather than ones on their heels, waiting for news releases and press conferences. Additionally, editors should keep in mind the varied audiences – on campus, in the city/state and beyond – our work can serve.
DAILY REPORTING: These are commonly called “day reporting” shifts in our newsroom, or “general assignment” in others. It’s a coverage that develops and needs to be fully covered in a single day, or some instances be handled immediately. Assignments like this include schedule/broadcast updates, game results, regular availabilities, in addition to news of prominent personnel moves. For game days, in particular, consider The Athletic’s game coverage guide when thinking beyond traditional game stories.
FULL STORIES AND ENTERPRISE: These are pieces worked on for longer periods – multiple days, if not weeks or more – that add deeper value to our news report. Be they news or features, these are longer and more rigorous to produce in terms of sourcing, word count, general complexity, etc. They are must-reads that provide our audience deeper value on our core topics than our competitors often might, and they also are the types of pieces hiring editors want to see in candidates’ portfolios.
BUILDING BLOCKS FOR DESK ORIENTATION: