Paul Valencia: Trying to win the tug-of-war battle

Paul Valencia: Commentary

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter



There is a tug of war in this high school sports media business, and it feels like I’m on both sides of the mud puddle. There I am pulling one way; there I am pulling the other.

Not that I am complaining because the winner, usually, is you, the reader. Usually.

So we got that going for us.

The battle for us in the print media business is covering a sporting event, trying to get the information out live via Twitter or chat or whatever else online, but also preparing to write a full story for print, on deadline.

You want the results right away. That’s awesome that you come to us.

But you also want a recap, reaction from the players and coaches. That’s awesome that you come to us.

We at The Columbian appreciate your passion. We also hope you understand we might not be able to do everything all the time.

The Camas Papermakers are scheduled to play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night in the Class 4A state football semifinals. Should they win, they will play the same time the following Saturday.

Uh oh. The Columbian’s print deadlines for those nights are early, earlier than the usual. Perhaps too early for a football game that starts at 7:30 p.m. and televised on ROOT Sports (cable Ch. 34). So while we will have the results via Twitter, and we will have a story online as soon as we can, we cannot guarantee that the full game coverage will be in every newspaper Sunday morning.

I know this is difficult to believe, but there are actually some people out there who read things other than Sports. They want their news, business, and life sections. Seriously! And they want it on their front porch on time. Imagine! And that can sometimes interfere with a big sporting event that starts late.

So this weekend, we will be doing our best to keep you posted on the game, as it happens. We know a lot of you will be at the game, but there are also many who will not make the trip to Tacoma but still want to know what is going on in the dome.

• • •

I received a great email on Sunday from a fan who thanked me for all of my Twitter updates from the Camas victory over Eastlake. But she also asked that next week, I give more updates. It was stressful, she said, waiting and waiting for my next tweet.

I respect that, but again, it is part of the tug of war. When covering pro sports or major college sports, there are trained staff on hand taking care of all of the official statistics. This is not true for most high school sporting events. Journalists must rely on themselves to keep the stats. So when Camas is always in a hurry-up offense, and Eastlake is always in a no-huddle offense (yes, there is a difference), well, there is not a lot of time in between plays to give an update on Twitter.

Plus, play-by-play on Twitter can be very annoying to some. So I try to find the proper balance.

Fortunately, the plan for the semifinals is to have a live chat going on with another Columbian writer. The chat should have more updates than Twitter.

• • •

The best part of this tug-of-war is when the two sides complement each other. With the Camas-Eastlake game ending so early, I had time to write my story for print, and the copy editors in the office were so fast they got that story online within minutes of receiving my report.

Our friend Bryan Levesque of fame was with me Saturday, helping me out in the press box. (Thanks, Bryan!)

After the game, we were at a nearby coffee shop, me writing my story and Columbian photographer Steve Lane sending his pictures to the office. Levesque watched us do our thing. Less than an hour later, Levesque and I were eating dinner, and he was reading my story and looking at Steve’s photos, on his phone. That’s when it hit him just how technology has changed the business.

He literally watched Steve and I complete our assignments, then he was reading that finished product online within minutes.

• • •

Some days, I’m a newspaper writer. Some days, I’m an online writer. It’s a tug-of-war, and I enjoy being on both sides of it.

Because every day, I’m a high school sports writer.