Pick a team, follow its sports writers on Twitter, improve your reporting

Mashable posted a piece yesterday entitled 11 Sports Writers you need to Follow on Twitter. It’s a good list that includes big names from Erin Andrews of ESPN to Grantland.com founder Bill Simmons. While the list is good, I think students and advisers looking for some best practices in sports reporting should turn to specific sports teams of interest and follow the reporters of those teams accordingly.

I follow the Iowa Hawkeyes pretty closely (probably too close). As a result, I began following the beat reporters of the major newspapers in Iowa to keep up to date on the latest news coming from the University. My list started out small and I gradually began adding to that list as I saw those reporters interacting with other reporters and bloggers who covered the teams.

While my original intent of creating this Twitter list was just to keep up on Hawkeye news, I learned a few things along the way. I didn’t just get headlines, breaking news and links to stories like I expected. My two biggest takeaways: live reporting from games and coverage comparison.

I’ll be honest, when I started following them on Twitter I didn’t expect to get live coverage from ballgames. On one hand, it’s great for me because if a game or match isn’t being televised I can still get a pretty good play-by-play through my Twitter feed. On another level though, it’s allowed me to see what sports reporters are doing to cover games live and share those tips with my students.

From the coverage comparison standpoint, it’s been nice to take writers who are all writing about the same thing and then compare and contrast their coverage. It’s good practice for lessons in voice, coverage and style.

If you have a student interested in sports reporting, encourage them to pick one or two of their favorite teams and begin building a list of writers on Twitter who cover that team. It will be a great ‘textbook’ for them and should no doubt improve their reporting.

Here are a few of the writers/bloggers/tweeps I have in my Iowa Hawkeye Twitter list:

John Bohnenkamp – Sports Editor for the Hawk Eye in Burlington
Jon Miller – Publisher of Hawkeyenation.com
Marc Morehouse – Sportswriter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette
Mike Hlas – Sports Columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette
Scott Dochterman – Sportswriter for multiple platforms in Eastern Iowa
Justin VanLaere – Hawkeyenation.com basketball writer
Rod Howe – Sportswriter for Hawkeyeinsider.com
Andy Hamilton – Sportswriter for the Des Moines Register
Randy Peterson – Sportswriter for the Des Moines Register
Hawk Central – News source for Iowa Hawkeye sports
Tom Kakert – Publisher of HawkeyeReport.com
IowaHawkeyes – This Twitter bio says: “Just a Nerd tweeting Hawkeye news and info.”
TheIowaHawkeyes – The official Twitter of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes.
Rick Brown – Sportswriter for the Des Moines Register

Do you have a list you use for other teams? Would love to see it shared in the comments below.

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 20th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He created The Next 26 and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on Twitter and Instragram @manfull and on Snapchat as aaronmanfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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