Thursday, February 23, 2012

Corey's Nuggets of Wisdom

Someone thought it was a good idea for me to talk to a journalism class at Queens University of Charlotte last week. Scary, right? Even more scary: my first contact with the professor was when she emailed me to tell me I misspelled her son's name in a football story I wrote.

Anyway, I ended up essentially teaching a class on profile writing, going through the process of how I find ideas, prep for interviews, conduct interviews and write.

It went pretty well, I think. No one fell asleep.

Since I only had one chance to talk to these kids, I wanted to also share random bits of knowledge that I've picked up in my 2+ short years on the job. I called them "Corey's Nuggets of Wisdom." Seriously. I printed out a sheet of paper with that in bold and underlined at the top of the page. It ended up getting copied and passed out to the class.

It's nothing earth-shattering, but I thought I would share. There are nine. I'm sure there are some I forgot. Is there something you would add? Throw it in the comments and I'll update it.

Corey’s Nuggets of Wisdom 

  1. Read. A lot. 
    1. The best way to become a better writer is to read other writers and see what they do that you like and don’t like. 
  2. Write. A lot. 
    1. Practice, whether it’s just for yourself or on a blog. 
    2. Always have a notebook and pen with you. 
  3. Be versatile. 
    1.  Journalism is changing and jobs are scarcer. Rise to the top by being able to do more: write, take pictures, design, shoot video. 
    2. You don’t have to be an expert, but have some knowledge and be open to it. 
  4. Get to know -- and love -- new technology. 
    1. Learn about blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Google+. 
  5.  Build your brand. 
    1. What comes up when you Google your name? 
    2.  Make sure it’s something that represents you. 
    3. Buy a URL, use your real name on social media and blogs. 
  6. If you get an opportunity to cover something, take it. 
    1.  Don’t be scared of new experiences. You might learn something new. 
    2. Plus, bosses might start to give you the good assignments. 
  7. Respond to emails/tweets/calls immediately. 
    1. If someone compliments your work, thank them. 
    2.  If they recommend an idea -- even if it’s the worst -- thank them. 
    3. If they hate your work, respond. Usually they don’t expect you to, so they might end up liking you before it’s all over. 
  8.  Own up to your mistakes. 
    1. If you did something wrong, apologize and correct it. Don’t try to blame someone else or make excuses. 
  9.  Spend as much time -- or more -- out of the office than you do in. 
    1.  It’s much harder to find stories at your desk.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The saddest promotion ever. Thanks, Bobcats

Just before tip off at the Bobcats game. Taken by Sergio Tovar.

I went to a Charlotte Bobcats game on Monday night. The reason I went tells you everything you need to know about the Bobcats exercise in futility this season.

There are the injuries, of course. There are the 15 straight losses, often by at least 20 points. There's the pathetically low attendance for most games.

Yet there's nothing quite as sad as the promotion that gave me the opportunity to go to the Bobcats game Monday night.

A friend and colleague went to a Bobcats game on Jan. 28. During the fourth quarter of that game, they announced this promotion: If the Bobcats make a three-point basket in that quarter, everyone gets free tickets to Monday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

I'm going to repeat that: if the Bobcats managed to make one three-pointer in the entire fourth quarter, everyone got free tickets. It didn't have to be a certain player, didn't have to be shot from a certain point on the court. And it wasn't that you got a voucher for a discounted ticket, the box office handed you free tickets.

That says three things to me:

  1. The Bobcats are so pathetic that there's a legitimate chance the team won't make a three-point basket in 12 minutes. 
  2. The attendance was so pathetic at that game that the Bobcats knew they had enough tickets to another game for everyone there. 
  3. The ticket sales were so pathetic for Monday's game that there was plenty of room to accommodate everyone. 
That just reeks of desperation. 

You might be thinking, "The game must have been pretty packed Monday, right?" 

Ha. Wrong. 

If everyone at the game brought a friend, it still wouldn't have been full. (See photo.)

Here's the kicker: I had fun. It was a good game. The Cats ended up losing by nine, but they were close most of the game, even getting within one possession several times in the second half. It was frustrating to watch them blow chances, but it was nice to watch a competitive game. 

Time Warner Cable Arena is a great venue (except for the $8 beer). We were on the top row of the upper level and they weren't bad seats. The halftime entertainment was a little weird, but funny. And it's nice see people gathering uptown.

I want to be a Bobcats fan. Every year I try. It's just hard to be a fan of a team that struggles this much. Charlotteans may be mad about the way the Hornets left and may not like the way the new stadium was  built, but if the Bobcats can manage some degree of respectability people will come out. (Saturday's game against the Clippers was legitimately sold out, from what I've heard.)

Charlotte can support and fall in love with a new NBA team, but something has to change. Someday, that promotion won't be possible. Maybe we will look back on it and laugh. 

Right now, though, I think the Bobcats would finish third in the ACC. At best.