Six weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend a few days at a conference with approximately 100 other sports editors from around the United States when we gathered in Indianapolis to judge a national contest that would determine the best sports reporting and editing from 2010.
A common theme arose throughout almost every conversation at that conference. Across America, sports editors are looking for new ways to tell stories in print, online, through social media and even on new platforms like The A-J’s iPad app. We want to bring you, our readers, the most thorough and up-to-date information possible, but know that Twitter followers, Facebook fans and traditional print readers are often looking for different things.
How, then, do we make sure each reader gets what he or she wants?
The redesign we are debuting in today’s print edition is one step toward making that happen. These are small changes, to be sure, but we’re hoping they make it easier to find the information that makes you pick up the A-J.
Here on page 2, for example, you’ve always found the broadcast schedule and local sports calendar. Today in Sports History, though, might appear on any page in the section. Same with Sports Briefly, and our columnists, like Baron Batch, Brett Hoffman and Will Leschper. Now, though, they’ll always be in this same space.
As part of this redesign, we’re working to improve the section’s organization. We often noticed, for example, that big national stories wound up buried in the section because our coverage of local events will always take precedence. We’ve already taken steps to get some front-page play for those stories on our page 1 rail, a practice we will continue every day except Sunday.
On Sundays, we’re making a conscious effort to bring you big stories that may take a little longer to read but will provide a deeper understanding of the way sports influence every aspect of our community. This week we feature our All-City Boys Basketball Team, one of the seasonal features we know readers have come to expect and enjoy. Sometimes you’ll find investigative pieces on our Sunday covers, other times they’ll be in-depth profiles or interviews with high-ranking sports figures in the community. You have always looked to the A-J for high-quality professional journalism, and we remain dedicated to bringing you just that.
We’re also bringing back the major league baseball page which runs every day, and are re-evaluating the way we do things so we can increase our coverage of everything from Texas Tech football to high school baseball to amateur golf.
The coverage does not stop here. Our writers are on Facebook, and Twitter, and regularly updating our websites at redraiders.com and lonestarvarsity.com, as well as maintaining staff journals on lubbockonline.com.
Our photojournalists work hard to bring you exceptional video and photo packages on our websites.
Because we know you go to those places as often as to our newspapers, we will now reverse-publish your story comments in our print edition.
In the end, these changes are nothing major. We will have the same number of pages, will cover the same number of schools and will continue to be present at as many games as possible. We know that’s what you expect, and we’re dedicated to bringing you that.
I’m proud of the hard work our staff puts into each edition, but know we can always do better. These changes are a small step in that direction. We are, and will continue to be, dedicated to giving you the best sports coverage you can find in West Texas.