While most of the feedback I receive is very positive, readers do sometimes have concerns about our coverage: mainly, when it comes to sports. Here's a few questions some people have asked this season.
Ok, this may seem petty, but I have been asking myself why is it that Westfield High School always has the feature story about the football games, when they are not even located in Centreville? They are actually located at Chantilly! Even though the Wildcats don't need the publicity to be awesome, the Bulldogs should NOT be taking Centreville High School's rightful spot at the CENTREVILLE Patch!
I love Patch, but you really need more coverage of Westfield High School. Westfield may be located in Chantilly, but we have a Centreville mailing address and our kids attend there.
Why does Centreville get a one-sentence blurb while Westfield receives a full article? This is not the first time this has happened. Does someone have to submit an article for you to post it?
When Centreville Patch launched one year ago, I initially thought our sports reporting would focus exclusively on Centreville. That's because our next-door neighbor, Chantilly Patch, was going to cover Westfield High. I quickly realized, however, that a lot of Centreville residents wanted Centreville Patch to cover what their kids were doing at Westfield.
That was a reasonable request, so we added Westfield coverage. Primary responsibility for Westfield coverage continues to fall to Lisa Brown, the Chantilly editor. You may reach her at email@example.com.
While I've heard a lot of good feedback about our Westfield coverage, there is definitely still a perception in some quarters that we don't really cover the school. I'm not entirely sure why: we have published a lot of articles about their teams.
Then some Centreville fans would like to understand why, for example, Centreville might get a photo gallery and Westfield gets a written story with a 10-second video clip. Or why do the Bulldogs get the top story in the Saturday newsletter and Centreville isn't in it at all—as was the case last week?
The short answer: it's more complicated than you'd think.
The long answer: We have a full-time staff of one. Last year, we were a new company with enough funds to attend games every week. Our business model has shifted to rely more on staff—i.e. me—and less on freelance reporters. We can't cover every game anymore. That being said, we continue to cover a lot of games, and do write features on sports that otherwise would receive little to no attention in other outlets.
This season, we've also switched our style a little for game coverage. I prefer to assign stories to people who can produce photo galleries or a written article with a video attached. Other media outlets already write extensively about our football teams; I would like to offer something a little different. And if one article stands out as better than the other, it might also be because the reporter went above and beyond what we asked him or her to do (e.g. making multiple videos of the game).
Finally, if one team is featured in the newsletter's top spot instead of the other, it might be because one was a more highly-anticipated game. Or more likely, it could be due to any number of behind-the-scenes reasons. For example, after a full work week, I might not be able to keep my eyes open long enough to approve the article when it rolls in (generally anywhere from midnight to 3 a.m.).
I'm explaining this not because I want any sympathy, but because some of you asked. And if readers have ideas on how we can improve our coverage, please share them. I'm open to ideas. I also want people know that there are two more ways to make sure that your team gets excellent coverage. You can upload your own videos and photos from games directly onto our articles. No need to email me; they will appear on the site automatically. Or, you can become a Patch blogger and write about your favorite team.
And yes, if we were not able to cover your event in person, we do accept game summaries from readers. You can email those to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to make sure it doesn't get lost in the daily email avalanche, post it directly to the site under the announcements section.
What do you think? Do you have a preference for how we should cover games (photo galleries instead of written articles)? Do you think Patch covers one school better than the other?