Sacramento Press holds Sports Writing workshop

Every month The Sacramento Press holds a workshop for its writers and readers to attend. Last night, Sac Press held a sports writing workshop in which sports writers Jimmy Spencer and Zach Harper led.

The 22 people in attendance asked questions and listened to the message that both writers shared pertaining to sports journalism.

Although they both are in the sports journalism arena, the way in which they made a name for themselves was very different.

Spencer earned a degree in journalism at California State University, Sacramento, in 2005. Spencer started his journalism career writing for campus newspaper, The State Hornet, and would later find himself working for The Sacramento Bee. He has also worked for NBC Sports, the Sacramento River Cats and is currently working for

Zach Harper took the alternate route to sports writing through his blog Cowbell Kingdom, which soon turned into a popular site for Kings fans. Besides running the popular site about the Sacramento Kings, he is a freelance writer for ESPN and also writes for

They touched on the direction journalism is headed. As many speculate, print journalism is on its way out while social media and web-based news is on the up.

While it is nice to read the paper every Sunday, most readers look for news as it happens. A paper printed daily is not as fast as a tweet or update via cell phone.

Many sites, specifically sports websites, have short articles and video clips that give the viewer what they want to read or hear in a short amount of time.

They went over the differences and similarities between sports journalism and any other kind of journalism, and the audience put some of the advice to work after watching a short clip of a playoff game from last season.

Everybody was given a short amount of time to write a lead about the specific highlight that was shown. Spencer and Harper both offered tips for sports writing and specifically how to come up with the best lead.

Journalists usually need quotes, and in sports writing specifically, quotes are key to a story. They went over how to come up with the questions you need and the importance of conversation when you’re looking for quotes.

Spencer and Harper stayed well after the time scheduled answering questions and talking with interested journalists.

Next month Sac Press will be hosting a food writing workshop. Details of the workshop will come out within the next couple weeks.


Photos taken by Colleen Belcher

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August 26, 2010 | 3:19 PM

I have great respect for sports writers. It (almost) always ends the same: one team wins and one loses and the reporter has to quickly tell the story behind the numbers. James is one of the best.

Thanks for hosting these Sac Press. Looking forward to food writing (and perhaps tasting).

August 27, 2010 | 7:33 PM

The guy you want to learn sportswriting from is SacBee’s Matt Barrows. Nobody comes close to Barrows in breaking 49ers stories online. He beats everybody, including the Bay area hacks and many of his stories go national. Besides being a top pro and hard working, Barrows’ asset is knowing how to be a reporter – and a damn good one. He obviously works sources and gets emails at 3 am from some Bay area bar. I marvel at how good this guy is and how lucky SacBee is to have a beat reporter who can’t be beat!

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