John Gogick

Executive Editor for The Augusta Chronicle. | E-mail

Gogick: Football coverage has come a long way

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Late night football makes for late morning papers.

The annual rite of fall starts next weekend; as does the annual trade-off that comes with it.

What is it about football?

“I like the pageantry and the lights on Friday nights,” said Wayne Staats, Chronicle prep writer starting his third season of leading our high school coverage.

Before cellphones, GPS or Mapquest, stadium lights were sportswriter beacons.

“Get off I-85 at the Concord exit and look for the lights,” my editor told me when I asked for directions to cover my first away high school football game.

The week before, Greensboro News & Record sportswriter J. Scott Nunn showed me how it was done.

Sit in the press box. Get the rosters. Use one legal pad for team and individual stats. Add as you go. No time for math later.

On another pad, keep a running list of every play – note the down and yardage, type of play, jersey numbers of key players, result of the play and the time on the clock. Put a star next to the key plays, so you can write a sentence of what happened at the next timeout.

When the game ended, Scott ran to the field to get quotes from the coaches and winning quarterback for color and perspective to what he had witnessed.

Scott had 30 minutes to write his story, find a pay phone and dictate his story for the first edition press start. As I drove as fast as I could, looking for a pay phone, Scott scribbled under the dome light. He had only a few paragraphs when I found a phone. He called in the box score, then read what he had written before pulling from his key play sentences and quotes.

Only technology has changed in the past 25 years. Computers replaced dictation, but Wayne and company also tweet throughout the game and provide quarter score updates for our text alerts. Click TXT at augustachronicle.com to sign up to follow your favorite local team on your phone.

After games, writers tweet the score and send a short update for our Web site before the interviews.

After the stories are written and filed from the games, copy editors place them onto pages, edit them and write headlines. The page is then proofed and made into a PDF to become a TIFF to become a plate for the press. When all plates are done, the press rolls.

And then, they get to do it all again the next night for college football, where much passion lies.

Wayne and photographer Jon-Michael Sullivan outdid themselves with this year’s preseason coverage and had a lot of fun with the annual Dream 16.

Find it inside the prep football tab in next Sunday’s paper with schedules and capsules on all the area teams, plus a couple of great stories, such as the one about Aquinas’ new coach, whose grandfather also coached at the school.

Our prep football video show – the Blitz – starts this week previewing the Thomson-Burke County game. Go online Friday and check it out. And enjoy the fully packed, but slightly late, Saturday paper.


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