Bill Kline, sports editor of the Allentown, Pa., Morning Call, said in an e-mail that "one idea we started at the beginning of the year is to rotate one sportswriter a day, Monday through Friday, 10 to 6 or so, to write for our Web page. This person even posts the items on the Web. We think it has made our sports Web home more lively and dynamic, and that people are checking back to it for sports news (a nice increase in Web traffic confirms this). This rotation is difficult to do in that you have to use people in their "off" season. Also, Web training is critical. We anticipate retraining might be necessary when a writer rotates back into the position after a half-year or longer away from it. This does not mean the writer completely ignores his or her beat while doing this Web shift, as we found out our Phillies writer had some off-season news to report on, in addition to doing the Web shift. But the bulk of the writer’s time during the day is spent on the Web." ¶
Kline also wrote the following: ¶
* We had a sports hire last September when we got Nick Fierro to cover the Eagles. Nick had been with the Express-Times, based in Easton. ¶
* Our special section ideas have included Joe Paterno’s 60th year on the sideline, which came out Sept. 25 last year (Penn State’s Big Ten opener). Perhaps papers can fashion a Paterno section this year around the news that he will win his 400th game. ¶
* Baseball’s minor league Triple-A All-Star Game is in Allentown this July, and we plan to do a special section on that. (We did a 32-pager last year on the U.S. Women’s Open in golf, which was in our area.) The important thing is to look ahead to one-time events coming to your area, and see if there is enough interest to do a special section. I would get advertising involved early, to see if it can sell ads for the section.
* Our Triple-A team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, opened on the road this year, so we published a special section on the team that day (April 8) and then came back with a 4-page wrap on the team on April 14 (the team’s home opener), figuring that for many people here, that was the real opening day for the IronPigs. Plus, there was nearly a week between the road opener and home opener, enough distance between the two special sections. (Maybe some papers can take the same approach with their minor league team, or even with their hometown college football team, if it opens on the road.) ¶
* To help boost Web traffic between high-school sports seasons, we put together separate photo galleries on photos of the year in boys’ basketball, girls’ basketball and wrestling, and all three received a lot of page views in March – generally a slow month for high school sports. ¶
* Papers should look to post live streaming video of major news conferences, as we did with the Tiger Woods statement and then the Tiger Woods news conference at the Masters. ¶
Elsewhere around Pennsylvania: ¶
Altoona Mirror ¶
Produced a few weeks ago a 48-page tab that previewed the Eastern League Altoona curve. It was packed with ads. Sports editor Buck Frank took first in the Keystone (state) Awards in the paper’s division for Sports Event Coverage. ¶
Harrisburg Patriot-News ¶
Hired Stefanie Loh, who was working for the Morgantown W.Va. Dominion Post, to cover preps and back up on the AA Harrisburg Senators. Loh had the West Virginia football beat at her former paper. Former beat writers Rod Frisco and Roxanne Moses took buyouts. Published five special sections over the last four weeks: local auto racing preview, winter high school all-stars, spring preps preview, Senators preview and local golf preview. Planning for second straight year to produce Pride magazine, a glossy pub sold on newsstands that previews Penn State football. Moved office in late March from downtown Harrisburg to area’s West Shore, about a distance of 15 minutes. Now located in building aside printing plant.¶
Philadelphia Daily News ¶
Pulled in a first place in the top division of Keystones in Sports/Outdoors Column (Sam Donnellon). ¶
Philadelphia Inquirer ¶
Matt Gelb and Bob Brookover now cover the Phillies. Former beat writer Andy Martino left for the New York Daily News. Gelb was a hire, Brookover moves over from the Eagles. Frank Fitzpatrick writes in national baseball news. The sports section won several Keystones in Division I, including first for Sports Beat Reporting (Martino) and Sports Story (Mike Jensen). ¶
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ¶
Continued its experiment with putting some of its premium sports content behind a pay wall on PGPlus. When baseball beat reporter Dejan Kovacevic announced on his popular Pirates blog that it would be moving to PGPlus May 1, he got hundreds of e-mails and comments from readers, a vast majority of whom said they would gladly pay the $35.88 a year (or $3.99 a month). Those who said they wouldn’t pay gave a variety of reasons: they already buy a print subscription, they couldn’t afford it, or they would just go elsewhere to read a free Pirates blog. Steelers and Penguins blogs are already on the pay site. The P-G also was awarded a first in Keystones for Sports Event Coverage (Super Bowl).¶
Sunbury Daily Item ¶
Produced a 40-page spring sports guide and 24-page motorsports tab this spring. Also has started to run weekly posters full-color in the Saturday paper of area dirt-track drivers. Their photos are on the front of the posters with a Q&A on the back. These also are expected to be available for purchase at a track or two in the paper’s coverage area. They’re perfect for fans to use for drivers’ autographs. ¶
Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice ¶
Sports editor Neil Corbett noted that they’ll no doubt try to reproduce Game Face this fall, a weekly high-school football preview that bumped circulation around 1,000 papers every Friday for its 12-week stint in 2009. "You know you’ve hit with something when the basketball coaches are moaning that you’re not doing the same thing for them," Corbett said. ¶ ¶
Williamsport Sun-Gazette ¶
One thing of note the last few months was converting its Friday weekly football preview from a 12-page tab to an eight-page wrap. That includes details on all the high school and small college games in its coverage area each weekend, with predictions, features, and complete stats for each team. Still run the 12-page Penn State Gameday tab that its sister paper, the Altoona Mirror, does the heavy lifting for. ¶
York Daily Record/Sunday News ¶
Planning an aggressive, multimedia approach for coverage of the York Revolution independent minor-league baseball team in 2010. Beat reporter Jim Seip will be expertly juggling daily print coverage, a Twitter account, a newsy baseball blog ( www.yorkblog.com/revs ), a weekly podcast and a weekly online chat with fans. In addition, the Daily Record is working with Revolution officials to provide live webcasts of all York Revolution home games (featuring synched audio from the local radio broadcast) on www.YorkRevsTV.com . Earned two firsts in Keystones in its division for Sports Event Coverage (John Clayton) and Sports Beat Reporting (Frank Bodani for Penn State football).
Wilmington News-Journal ¶
Lost Scott Lauber, who had covered the Phillies for the paper since 2005. He is now part of the Red Sox coverage team at the Boston Herald. Editor Jason Levin said they are still seeking to fill that position.
Carroll County Times
From editor Bob Blubaugh: "Like everyone else, we have a few Facebook pages designed to drive traffic and Twitter accounts. Our Ravens writer, Aaron Wilson, has like 3,500 followers.
"In terms of real ideas, the best idea I think we had recently was to do a nice, glossy magazine-type special section produced quarterly filled with Ravens’ news and human interest. It was inserted in the paper during training camp, at the midseason point and after the season ended. It was probably one of the best things we’ve done here. But we got a cease-and-desist order from the Ravens, who said we were making money off their brand. . . . That’s a battle our paper [has decided it] won’t fight.
"One thing we did online was to create a Web site just for high school coverage called carrollvarsity.com. We partnered with Dell Sports, which has a national database and put up the framework for the stats and standings and rosters and such. It’s been pretty well received. It makes money and gets a good number of hits, particularly during football season. We expect to make it better and more essential to our coverage this fall."
Asbury Park Press ¶
Sports editor Jack Genung noted that he has settled in with his other title of regional sports editor of a group that also includes the Home News Tribune, the Courier News and Morristown Daily Record. That regionalization took place a year ago. He also mentioned recent state awards: first place in design for Assistant Sports Editor Steve Feitl and second place in column writing for Steve Edelson.