Cooking up a sports feature story: dissecting the writer-editor decisions and operations that lead to sports features making it to publication
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As story structures and distribution models in journalism change, storytelling remains a valuable asset to writers and editors, especially in sports departments. But before you can tell a story, you need a topic. I aimed to answer two questions: How do sportswriters and editors find story topics to potentially cover? And then how do they select which ideas they’ll move forward with? The theoretical framework I used is the Gatekeeping theory, which focuses on the points of decision-making in the production of news. I used semi-structured interviews to reveal more about the thought processes of writers and editors at three medium-to-large newspapers and three big sports websites. While writers and editors receive increasing information on their audience’s reading habits, they still — for the most part — rely on experience or their feel for what will work. Analytics haven’t provided a formula for the dozen journalists I polled.