EDITOR’S NOTE: Trying to be good sports

EDITOR’S NOTE By Hank Kalet: Residents asked for help with youth sports coverage.

By: Hank Kalet
   An important part of any community news organization is its sports coverage.
   I still fondly remember my one and only mention in the sports pages of what was then the Central Post, a one-line mention about a South Brunswick Athletic Association game in which I banged out a double and triple, probably the only game in my life in which I managed more than a single.
   My sense from talking to parents and kids around the township is that my experience is not unique. Youth athletes love to see their name in the paper, get a real kick out of it and derive a lot of pride when their accomplishments are noted.
   That’s one of the reasons we at the South Brunswick Post pride ourselves on our efforts to cover as much of the local scene as we physically can. There is nothing like hearing from a mother after her kid’s photo has been in the paper — and it doesn’t hurt circulation either.
   But that doesn’t always mean we’ll be as successful as we’d like in getting to everything. Every so often, we hear from parents that we’ve neglected some sport or another, that we’ve ignored the freshmen and junior varsity teams, that a particular youth league team is not getting the coverage it deserves.
   The complaints are valid for the most part, though there are mitigating circumstances. We don’t get to every game played by the long list of teams at the high school. Our youth league wraps do not always include every game that’s been played. We can’t get photos of every sporting event that occurs.
   That doesn’t mean we aren’t trying. When I started writing this Editor’s Note column a couple of weeks ago, I explained that I wanted to give our readers an inside look at the paper, at the challenges we face and the decisions we make.
   Well, one of our greatest challenges is to find a way to cover 28 varsity high school sports teams, nearly twice the number of freshmen and junior varsity teams and a sizeable number of youth league teams with just one full-time sports editor, a handful of freelance writers and one full-time photographer.
   And that’s just in South Brunswick. That same group also covers all the high school and recreation sports for two other papers in Cranbury and Monroe, and the photographer also shoots news and sports events for those papers, as well as this one.
   That’s really not a lot of staff, when you consider the sheer number of games being played.
   We also have a limited amount of space in which to run sports news — or any news, for that matter. Our sports pages generally run from three to four pages, or a total of about 300 news inches — probably more than we should be running given the volume of advertising we have. Three pages and 300 inches may seem like a lot of space, but it isn’t. Stories tend to run between 15 and 20 news inches — sometimes longer — and the average photo probably takes up about 12-15 news inches. When you do the math, you can see how quickly 300 inches gets filled.
   This affects the frequency with which we can run stories on some sports — perhaps, we skip a week of bowling at the expense of a hockey, or news that an SBHS grad is excelling as a college wrestler. But we do try to get to everything as often as we can.
   As for the junior varsity and freshman teams, and the teams at Crossroads, we need your help. We will run results, but we need a coach or parent to send us the information. If sent, we guarantee it will run. Perhaps not word for word, but the important information will get in.
   The key thing to remember, however, is that we can only do our job with your help. Our Sports Editor Rich Fisher, who I feel is one of the best in the community news business, assures me that the youth programs, for the most part, do an excellent job of submitting their results. This gets the kids’ names into the paper and it helps us turn out a better, more well-rounded product.
   If you are involved in a youth league whose results do not appear, feel free to submit them. It could be travel or in-town. If you have a child excelling in youth sports in another town or at a private or parochial school, submit a release about his or her exploits. We want to note them, as well.
   So help us out. If you have sports news, drop him a note. He can be reached via e-mail at rfisher@pacpub.com, by mail at P.O. Box 309, Dayton, N.J. 08810, by fax at (732) 329-8291 or by phone at (732) 329-9214.

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   The Editor’s Note column will run as often as necessary as a way to explain the workings of the South Brunswick Post to our readers. So, please, send me your questions about the paper, about the news business, about the decisions we’ve made and any suggestions you have. I’ll try and answer as many as I can in future Editor’s Notes. Call me at (732) 329-9214, write me at P.O. Box 309, Dayton, N.J. 08810 or e-mail me at hkalet@pacpub.com.