Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Local Daily Looking for Virginia Tech Football Reporter

Randy King
A local daily hereabouts has placed an ad in an industry publication ( looking for somebody to cover Virginia Tech football.That is a job Randy King has had for years and you gotta wonder if there's an effort afoot to minimize yet another veteran.

Randy's in his mid-50s, just the age reporters seem to be jettisoned at that publication. Randy--who is called "Nappy" by his pals in sports--was a copy boy in the department in the mid-1970s when I was winding up a run in that department. He was a student at Northside High School at the time and he and another Northside student intern, Tony Stamus, became sportswriters fulltime after finishing college. Tony spent most of his time as a copy editor and he died young of some mysterious disease. Randy was always a beat reporter and never much liked being in the office.

Randy's an old-line reporter who likes to be out on his beat, talking to people, buying them drinks and shooting the bull--then writing stories with the background he picks up. If you put him inside on a desk, which appears to be one alternative, he will wither and the paper will lose yet another strong local voice.

Randy was busted for DUI May 28, according to a story in the paper, and there's no way to know if that has anything to do with anything or not, but it stands out pretty prominently to some people. (Disclosure: I was arrested several times for drunk driving and even have a chapter in my memoir about it. I know it happens to people far more deserving than I, but it shouldn't.)

This news comes--from more than one source, by the way, all placed well--as the daily approaches combining its news and sports copy desks, which have always been separate. It's called a "universal" copy desk, as in "one size fits all." Oh, just wait until some of those non-sports people start taking high school football game reports on the telephone at 9:30 or 10 o'clock on a Friday night and need to both know something about what's going on and to care. Those brief periods are always frantic and it's where sportswriters learn to write in a hurry and often far better than their newsroom counterparts. It has been one of the great training grounds in all of newspapering.

In recent years the sports department has become much stronger than news at this particular local daily and my guess is that's because sports is generally ignored by upper management. This appears to be a move by upper management to correct that oversight and bring everybody to the same level.

(Christian Moody, a former journalist who knows Randy well, had the following comment, which was posted on the Facebook reference to this post: "The papers are going to make the VT beat the cornerstone of their sports sections and want a person who will live in Blacksburg most of the year andbe in Tidewater during winter/spring (recruiting time) and have a story online, thru social media and/or in print EVERY DAY. This has been in the works at the upper levels for a while, I'm told. Randy ... [said] they will let him write about what he wants to write about. I don't think the DUI had anything to do with it. The papers want to stay competitive and they figure the best chance is blanket, multimedia coverage in its cash cow beat."

(Journalist Hank Ebert posted this: "I think this opening is a replacement for Kyle Tucker who covered Tech for several publications:"

(Roanoke Times photo)

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