August 9 2011
The Craic is your website, it functions for supporters but it cannot function without the help of supporters. Every match, in every competition, home, away or at a neutral venue we endeavour to have a match reporter scribe the happenings in that match. This way folks not fortunate enough to be there can get an Irish perspective of the match and those that were can compare their thoughts too.
The following is a list of this year's fixtures with the hero who volunteered to write the match report. It is a record of who did which match which allows us to know who contributes to this site. More importantly it is a record of future matches some of which may not have a volunteer yet.
If the up-coming match is reporterless one of the site editors has to go onto the message-board and rant until someone relents. Its far nicer for people to volunteer early. If you fancy having a go, check the list and if you're going to a match that has no reporter assigned then email the editors to volunteer.
Each and every person named on this list gave up their time to provide a service for you. They are all heroes. You probably owe them a beer.
|Sat 13th||H||London Welsh||Jon_R43|
|Sat 24th||H||Newcastle Falcons||davidg|
|Sun 23rd||H||Newcastle Falcons||Irishwolfhound|
|Sat 12th||H||Edinburgh||Irish Wolf|
|Sat 26th||H||London Wasps||Loobs|
|Sat 10th||A||Racing Metro||olospo|
|Sat 17th||H||Racing Metro||Cormac|
|Sat 14th||H||Cardiff||Ace Reporter Molly|
|Sun 26th||H||Northampton||Talya Varga|
|Sat 3rd||A||London Wasps||Big-Al|
Writing a match report isn't at all difficult, writing a good one is certainly a skill but most people simply want to know what happened. While I'm happy to write a report, I've never managed one that I was completely 100% happy with, and I still aspire to writing one that I'm really proud of. Practice makes perfect but that doesn't mean I'm going to write all of them.
You'll need to take notes, some people use a pad and paper, I have used paper, I've also managed on my Palm PDA and by talking into the voice-recorder on my phone. I know our esteemed OxonRob has been known to use a tape recorder. Use whatever you need but you will need some sort of timeline of events if only to jog your memory when writing the final draft. Use some kind of shorthand to prevent having to write an essay at the game, this is something that almost certainly gets better with practice.
My written notes were of the form
Try LI Tofty to DD ruck Beefy scored. conv
Meaning London Irish scored a try (it does happen), Mark Mapletoft passed to Declan Danaher who was tackled and Neil Hatley scored from the resulting ruck. The try was then converted by whichever kicker I'd previously mentioned in my notes.The voice-recorder in my phone (a Nokia 6230) was very useful as it keeps each recording separately and in the order in which they were made, it also timestamps the entry so I didn't have to bother with the game clock (I recorded a "start of half" entry to timestamp the kick-offs).
Once you've got the notes done, chat with the other folks. This helps you get different viewpoints to events that you may or may not have seen. It also gives you the chance to see if the rest of the supporters agree with your view of the game. Once you have done this you may want to adjust your notes to include the new information.
The final stage is to pull the notes together as an article. A lot of people think you need some incredible expertise in the game of rugby to do this. Not true, or else I would never have managed one. If you have any skill in this area by all means include it but it is not a prerequisite. What we're after is a supporter's view of the game, there will be plenty of "expert" opinions in other forms of media for people who want that.
Another thing that it is nice to have, altough not essential, is photos of the game. If you have a camera and can manage to get a few shots and get them into electronic format we can add them to the report. This usually means a digital camera, or phone camera - you will need to know how to get them off the device and into an email. It is also best if you can cut the picture down to a rasonable size. My digital camera takes pictures that are around 1.25 MB in size. That is too big to email so I have to scale the image file to get it to a reasonable size. This can be done in Photoshop and a lot of other packages (I use GIMP, which is free but not the easiest). Images used in SportNetwork stories cannot be wider than 468 pixels or they break the page format, once the picture is down to that size or smaller it will easily be small enough to email.
Even if you are not the match reporter for a particular game, if you have some photos you can offer them and we can add them to the story, just email the editors and see if we need them
The story itself can be sent simply as text, you can put it into a Word document if you like but there is little point in spending a lot of time formatting the page to make it look nice. The editors only have to cut the text out (and decode any pictures you've embedded) to get the story onto the site anyway so you're better off just sending the text. Of course if you can do HTML, and the set of markers required to format a story is quite small, you can put it together as HTML and save the editors some work.
Some things to bear in mind based on the current set-up of the SportNetwork. If you look at some of the match reports you'll get to see what these things are. If a report doesn't have these items the editors have to write them or extract them from your work. Knowing what is required may help you structure your report.
It is nice to get the report up as quickly as possible, obviously the more distant the match, the less likely we are to get a report in good time. For the average match it's nice to get the report published by the following day, this isn't a hard deadline though and we're fairly laid-back about these things.
Be aware, though, that writing a report will take some time. I often think it'll be a half hour job and amaze myself by finding it takes much longer.
Writing a report though is fun, it's also quite rewarding. The internet may not be real publishing but it is still nice to see your work in a public setting. You get nice feedback from your peers too. So do your bit now, you never know, you may have a talent for it.