Update on the new work

No posting for awhile as I’ve been in adjustment to the new working environment.

But here’s how things have been going so far.

Good. Really good. I won’t say “great,” because in my opinion nothing going on in the newspaper industry right now merits the word “great.”

I’m in my third week on the new job as online sports editor. It’s included one revamped product launch, one new product launch, and a second new product launch coming next week.

So first things first, I’m busier. That was a given. And honestly, it’s better that way. I felt guilty not having a lot to do at the beginning of the week before. Now, while I can still tell the end of the week has more to do than the beginning of the week, the difference isn’t as drastic.

Also making a big difference is the enthusiasm and willingness of the sports staff to do Web stuff. Want a blog post? No problem? I brought up the possibility of podcasting, and everybody wanted to do it. Not figuratively everybody, but literally everybody.

My switch in jobs coincided with a redesign of ADVarsitySports.com. It was a company-wide design change across Freedom Communications, so I didn’t have any real specific input on the project. So it’s a matter of adjusting as much as I can within the limits of what the design and CMS allow me to do to tailor the site to feature what we do best as much as possible.

I’m attacking it with a strategy of keeping the last two slots on the 9-spot rotating A-box as teases to our Twitter and Facebook, since in the redesign we lost a separate rotator for promotions. I’m reserving the “Featured Stories” box on the left rail for more feature-style stories that don’t have a strong time element.

Like any redesign, there’s some aspects of it I’m hearing about it that some readers don’t like. And like any complaints, some I understand and even agree with to various extents, others are just plain ridiculous. We’ll see how it goes over time.

As far as data visualization, not a lot going on there yet. There’s just so much limitation for day-to-day statistics without being able to insert Java-based visualizations into stories on our CMS. The coding won’t even allow for Java inside our WordPress blog. If I had to pick a work-related frustration that’s developed, that’s it.

But onto the good and positive stuff.

The shift change has made it easier for me to film more sports video. Before, filming a sporting event meant changing my entire schedule. Now, it doesn’t. So filming three games is pretty straightforward to do.

As an added bonus, I’m not limited to just producing a game highlight video. If there’s an interesting detail of the game I think is worth of highlighting individually, I now have the time available to go back into the files and build secondary videos. Three examples so far: The see-saw fourth quarter between rivals Lindhurst and (big underdog) Marysville, a key 11-0 run for Faith Christian, and the video below, a replay of big dunks by Yuba College:

Plus, there was also the launch of a new product and one in the works I’m excited about.

Then, last week, we launched a e-newsletter called “Sidelines” that acts as a rundown of content from the sports department during the previous week, pitching the big upcoming sports events of the next week, and acting as a teaser for video and slideshows. It makes use of a list of 700 people that have signed up for sports e-mail updates that had, up until now, gotten nothing.

And as I mentioned before, I was doing some microphone dabbling at my desk this past week to see the capabilities of doing a two-microphone podcast with GarageBand. Needless to say, the sports guys were really enthusiastic about doing it (one writer even has two years of podcasting experience, blows my two semesters of college radio out of the water). So we’re shooting for doing the first episode of The Press Box Podcast (co-branding it with the site’s blog) next week.

So, thus far I’m really excited. Based on some early projections, we’re looking at around a 20 percent YOY growth for the month of February, which is good heading into the spring season, since baseball and softball are traditionally very popular sports in the area.

I’ll keep up on sharing what else we’ll be up to.

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