I’ve been back to work for more than two months now, and so far, I’m having a blast.
A bunch of people have asked what my job — South Group Sports Editor — entails. It’s a fairly unique position, which is what makes it so exciting.
Before I started, I wasn’t sure what I would be doing on a daily basis. Now, my job has settled into its new role.
Basically I oversee five writers. These writers are Sports Editors at 13 different papers throughout the western and southern parts of Houston.
My primary job description is to manage these five guys. That means editing their stories, communicating with them on a regular basis and provide coverage help when needed (likely in the playoffs).
That part of my job is pretty easy. All five guys are great writers and do an awesome job taking ownership of their sections.
Within the first week, my job took on a new responsibility, which honestly has me as excited as I have ever been with the newspaper business.
It is no secret that papers are struggling. Advertising has dried up and most newspapers are still trying to figure out what to do and how to potential shift some focus to digital content. Most papers are failing in that respect, because they aren’t fully committing to going digital.
Not Houston Community Newspapers.
Our sports department is taking the plunge, shifting about 90 percent of our focus to digital. We are starting a new sports website that debuts later this month, to go along with redesigned sports websites for each paper and a full-blown commitment to Twitter.
“We aren’t going to stand around in quicksand looking at each other,” my boss said. “We are going to be proactive.”
Having done a lot of social media research, I’ve been a big part of the digital commitment. I started blogs on our websites and redid our twitter accounts to focus more on the writers than the papers.
I spend the days organizing when content is going to be released on our websites as to get the most page views. I also spend a lot of time posting stories on Facebook, Twitter and message boards to draw in readership.
Among the other things I have been trying on our sites are podcasts, live chats, polls and standings.
I haven’t done a bunch of writing, though the blogs I’ve posted have gotten a bunch of hits.
The readership prior to this year wasn’t great, but with our new focus, we have seen immediate results.
We launched our redesigned sites in time for Signing Day, and received a bunch of traffic with that and the UIL realignment the next day.
Now, with the launch of 45sports.com in the coming weeks, we are hoping for even bigger things.
I don’t think this would be as successful thus far if not for an awesome group I work with. Along with my talented group of writers and photographers, I also have the best newspaper webmaster in the state.
This dude is beyond awesome. You ask him to add a feature on the website (like blogs or standings) and he has it up by the end of the day. He’s also given me a lot of access to our sites, which has allowed me to test out a few things.
We didn’t have someone with his work ethic in Galveston, and the difference is obvious.
Combine him with the support of our regional sports director (my boss) and the vice president of the company, and I feel great about my job and the company.
My job over the coming months is to work out any kinks in our websites and try and draw in more readership before football season. I think once August rolls around, we are going to become the premier high school sports website in the Houston area.
Being unemployed for a year was no fun. And while I wish I were making more money, I absolutely love my job. I think it was worth the wait — as long as this company stays proactive in order to beat the decline of print journalism.
• I wrote a blog on Peyton Manning and the Texans, which has brought in more page views than any other sports story for our websites the past month.
• It cost the Redskins a lot, but I think making the trade to acquire RGIII was a tremendous move.
You cannot win in the NFL without a top quarterback these days, and RGIII has the chance to become one. What good are extra draft picks if you can’t win because your quarterback situation is garbage.
St. Louis should be set up good with the extra picks to build around franchise QB Sam Bradford. They were smart to move the pick, and move it quick, to get the best offer.
If I’m a Cleveland fan, I’m pissed. There is no way the Browns should have lost the bidding war for the No. 2 pick. Losing out to the Redskins is a horrible decision for the Browns front office. Enjoy another five years of mediocrity!
• It sounds like the Bears are going to make a big run at Mario Williams. Mario and Julius Peppers on the same line? Watch out Aaron Rodgers!
• The Walking Dead has been fantastic (and shocking) the past few weeks. I hate that the season finale is this weekend, but I’m excited with the things they have done with the show late in this season.
• Because of a rule limiting weekly newspapers, I wasn’t able to get credentials to the boys state basketball tournament. No worries — I still managed to run a live chat from the top of the arena. #stud
• My bracket is probably going to be a mess because I haven’t watched much college basketball this year. Still, I know enough to know Kentucky will win it all this season.
• We did our fantasy baseball draft via email again this year. We made record time, finishing it in six days.
I kept Matt Kemp and (Mike) Stanton, while trading Jared Weaver during the draft. Here’s my team.
Starters: Mauer (C), Hosmer (1B), Jemile Weeks (2B), Jed Lowrie (SS), Brett Lawrie (3B), Kemp (OF), Stanton (OF), Heyward (OF), Michael Young (UTL).
Bench: Dunn (1B), JD Martinez (OF), Neil Walker (2B)
Pitching: SP — Hanson, Garza, Zimmerman, Wandy Rodriguez, Marcum, Dempster, Collmenter, Henderson Alvarez; RP — Marmol, Bailey, Balfour/Fuentes
Thoughts: My hitters are extremely young. If two or more of them tank, I could be in big trouble. If they play up to potential though, my team could have a great offense.
Pitching wise, while I don’t have a stud starter, I have good depth. I can win with those guys. I was also pleased to get decent relievers late in the draft.
I’m going to need a bit of luck to win my fourth title, but I do think I am a playoff team barring injuries or a handful of sophomore slumps.
• Finally…I can’t put a “Like a Boss” headline on this post without posting the great video that accompanies it.
Bear Down and Keep the Faith!