Sunday, January 04, 2009

A day in the life

On Saturday I covered my first Buffalo Bandits' game for The News. It's always fun to start a new assignment with the raising of a championship banner, and that's what the Bandits (that's a lacrosse team, by the way) did before the start of the game. Come to think of it, I watched the Rangers raise a Cup banner in 1995 during my first game covering the Sabres.

It is interesting how many different aspects to the job there are these days. Let's do a little timeline on my day, just to show you how many parts there are.

10:30 a.m. -- Arrived at HSBC Arena for the morning shootaround. There I actually met the coach, Darris Kilgour; we had talked earlier in the week on the phone. John Gurtler was there. John, who used to work with me in the Sabres' public relations department, is now the Bandits' play-by-play announcer. He did a fine job of introducing me to several people in the organization as we sat on the bench and watch the light practice.

11:30 a.m. -- Did a short interview with Kilgour to gather material for a notebook for that night's game.

12:30 p.m. -- Got home and wrote up most of that notebook. I figured I'd write the first item about the pregame ceremony.

4 p.m. -- Brief nap after watching the end of the International Bowl. Always a good idea.

5:45 p.m. -- Left the house to go back to HSBC Arena. You always want to get there early on Opening Night, as things can go wrong.

7 p.m. -- After chatting with a few people, I wrote the top to the notebook based on what I had seen in the pregame rehearsal before the doors opened. The notebook is about 17 paragraphs long, by the way.

7:30 p.m. -- I had never used a wireless connection on a computer before, and I kept getting kicked off when I tried to log on this one. Help arrived from a bystander, who figured out that the computer automatically tied into any network that was nearby, thus confusing the computer. He finally connected me to one signal, the right one.

7:40 p.m. -- I wrote and published my first blog entry of the night on The News' Web site. I took the approach that it was like sending little notes to friends who might be interested in the game. I think I did about seven of them for the night.

8 p.m. -- Sent the notebook to the office via e-mail.

8:25 p.m. -- Wrote up a description of the first half, more or less, for the story for the first edition (about 16 paragraphs, due as soon as the game ends) and saved it for later.

8:30 p.m. -- Did about a 6-minute interview with John on radio about replacing Tom Borrelli and about the Bandits. John's last question surprised me: "Anyone ever tell you that you look like Keith Olbermann?" My answer, "All the time. I'm not as liberal as Keith, though."

9:15 p.m. -- Wrote more recap of the third quarter; the Bandits seem pretty much in control, so I started work on the top to the first edition story.

9:30 p.m. -- Philadelphia rallied to within three goals with about five minutes left. Writers in this situation don't root for teams, they root for the result to turn out the way they thought it would, so they don't have to furiously rewrite.

9:45 p.m. -- Bandits hung on for 15-11 win. I plugged in the final score and saves by the goalies, and sent it to the newspaper. Our first deadline is 10:15 or so, so I had plenty of time there.

9:55 p.m. -- Interviewed Kilgour and about three players on the Bandits. I have no idea where the Wings even were located in terms of locker rooms, but they weren't the story on this night.

10:15 p.m. -- The video cameraman from the News and I headed out to the players' bench. I did a 2-minute summary into the camera about the night and the game; he would edit in clips of the games and some soundbites of my interviews later. I stumbled slightly a couple of times -- two minutes is a long time without a script -- but no one is expecting Bob Costas out of a newspaper guy. I think. You can watch it here.

10:35 p.m. -- Walked back to the newspaper office (a block), where the first edition was safely in the books. I rewrote the game story and the notebook for the second and final edition, complete with quotes. The game story is essentially a case of taking the top of the initial story, and expanding it with quotes. I added a quote to the notebook from Kilgour, and changed a couple of facts at the bottom.

11:30 p.m. -- Both stories are done and ready to be read by copy editors.

11:45 p.m. -- There's no questions about the stories, so I'm free to go home.

Not exactly 9-5 work, eh?


John Fraissinet said...

Interesting that your entire blog entry did not include the word Lacrosse once. Being not in the "know" about Buffalo sports, I used my Google skills to determine the Bandits were best in that sport. I found the inside info regarding the reporter rooting for his already written outcome to be interesting, never really thought about that. And, Keith Olbermann...??? Okayyyy...

Anonymous said...

Hi Budd;
I may just pull this out this spring to show my class how sports beats work and how a section is constructed! I don't think a lot of people understand the details or the effort required to make sure you're feeding the monster -- overtime or no.