Lessons of Royals’ drought

The Kansas City Star (10.05.2014)

Online version | Print version

Royals’ drought print

With the Royals in a playoff race for the first time in 29 years, The Kansas City Star decided to publish additional preview and special sections each day during the Wild-Card Game, division and league series and World Series. I pitched this story — my commentary as a fan who had never seen the team make the postseason — to my editor for a Sunday section. Besides describing my experience, the piece also highlights the travails and triumphs of fans in my generation.

The story ran on both KansasCity.com and in print. Here is the online version, which was my uncut original. The thumbnail on the left, which ran in print, was trimmed to fit a tighter space in the paper.

Injury adds uncertainty for team

The Kansas City Star (03.25.2014)
Before | After
This story about one of the University of Kansas’ best basketball players required fact-checking of statistics and dates, careful handling of the complex subject matter of speculation and a tight headline in a one-column space on the sports section’s front page.

Additionally, I was able to save a screenshot of my edits (bottom right) to compare with the final version that appeared in print (bottom left).

"What-if factor looms" final (03.25.2014)

“What-if factor looms” final

"What-if factor looms" edits (03.25.2014)

“What-if factor looms” edits

The KC Star’s “Daily Deuce”

Deuce PDF 09.13.2011

Deuce PDF 01.04.2012

The Kansas City Star (01.04.2012, 09.13.2011)
On the right are two samples of the The Star’s “Daily Deuce,” which was the witty and brief page two of the sports section each day. I compiled the stories, edited them, wrote headlines, chose photos and designed these pages. These two examples are indicative of the dozens of Deuces I put together.

After meeting with the news editor to see which articles he recommended, I used my news judgment skills to ferret out stories from The Star’s wire services to fill the rest of the page (except for the TV and game schedules). Editing the wire material meant significant trimming and a bit of rewriting. In some cases, when our wires didn’t cover an event, I wrote short tidbits from press releases and online resources.

Working on these pages also came with a fun perk—you’ll notice my moniker under the words “Daily Deuce.”

Main centerpiece headlines

The Kansas City Star  (06.03.2014, 05.02.2014)
One of the things I liked best about the copy desk was the collaborative approach we took — if something needed to be finished on a story or design, anyone who was in a position to help jumped in and completed it. On these particular nights, I designed the front page, and when I was done, I joined the desk’s brainstorming effort and came up with the hammer headlines for the centerpiece.

I tried to think up two to four words that would tie together the photo and main storyline. “Heave-humph” was a play on the starting pitcher’s frustrated hurl of a ball into the stands.

“Show me the hug” incorporated Missouri’s state nickname (the “Show-Me State”) with the Royals’ victory against the in-state rival Cardinals.

Centerpiece hammer headline: 06.03.2014

Centerpiece hammer headline: 06.03.2014

Centerpiece hammer headline: 05.02.2014

Centerpiece hammer headline: 05.02.2014

Late Royals centerpiece

The Kansas City Star (09.04.2014)
This example showed some norms on the night sports copy desk: a game that ended close to the first deadline and was slated to be the section front’s centerpiece.

I juggled speed and accuracy as I edited the column and game story and wrote the decks, captions, jump headlines and overline. Since the centerpiece is often a product of teamwork, others wrote “Hand it to Alex,” along with the standings box.

KC- (e) Royals CP1 090414

KC- (e) Royals CP2 090414

Hitter’s spring success

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Reinvigorated print p. 1 of 2

“Reinvigorated” print p. 1 of 2

"Reinvigorated" print p. 2 of 2

“Reinvigorated” print p. 2 of 2

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The Kansas City Star  (03.29.2011)
Front page | Jump page
This centerpiece story on the Kansas City Royals’ Jeff Francoeur, which I edited, ran on the front page of the sports section. Excluding the stats and blurb underneath the subhead “The heat is on,” I also wrote all the display type—the hammer headline, deck, “Ready to Roll” box, cutlines and jump headline.

With this article, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of tying the package together with the main headline — I had to sum up Francoeur’s bumpy ride as a major-league hitter in one word. And because the size and page placement of “Reinvigorated” made it the most-read word in the section, I had to make sure it was accurate and catchy enough to lead readers into the story.

Speed and time management were key as I worked through this since I was also in charge of editing and laying out the other preseason Royals articles. In fact, after I sent this centerpiece to the news editor to proof, he expressed gratitude that I’d finished it ahead of schedule.

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Sports Daily section covers

The Kansas City Star  (2013—2014)
Along with my copy-editing and inside-page layout duties, I also designed the cover of the Sports Daily section two or three times a week. The nature of sports stories demanded charts and lists of numbers, so my main goal was to present this information in a way that was easy to read and efficient.

On nights when I designed the sports front, I was also in charge of assigning layout duties for others and setting up the page templates. This process began in the afternoon budget meeting, when the sports editors and I met to discuss which stories would run and where. As I set up the front each night, I consulted with those editors at different parts of the process to let them know the direction of my design before it was sent to press.

Sports front-page balconies

The Kansas City Star  (02.25.2014, 07.06.2013, 06.11.2013)

Kansas City Star sports section-front balconies

Kansas City Star sports section-front balconies

When I designed the Sports Daily section’s front page, I wrote a blurb that referred to one of our best stories inside and choose an accompanying photo. Brevity, creativity and readability were key, as was a strong picture, since this always went at the top of the cover in the “balcony” space.

General editing & headlines

The Kansas City Star (09.04.2014, 10.17.2013)

I edited and wrote the display type for these stories. They are indicative of the different types of news, features and roundups that came across the copy desk daily.

"Avery looks to provide highlights" (09.04.2014)

“Avery looks to provide highlights” (09.04.2014)

"First of season surprises" 10.17.2013

“First of season surprises” 10.17.2013

"Cozart offers options at quarterback" (10.17.2013)

“Cozart offers options at quarterback” (10.17.2013)