Reporters' Blog

BLOG: The challenges and rewards of Pioneer Focus


If you have been paying attention this semester, the sports section has added a new feature into the fray: the Pioneer Focus.

Briefly, the Pioneer Focus is a feature that we have run every week this semester about one of the Pioneer athletes. The feature highlights the athlete’s accomplishments and has him/her answer a series of questions about Malone, life and his/her sport.

Originally the idea for the Pioneer Focus sprouted from one of our staff writers, Tina Oprean, last semester when she told me we should have our own athlete of the week.

The Pioneer Focus has gone to many athletes from different sports like senior first baseman Matt Anderson. We ran a Pioneer Focus on him two weeks ago in the March 13 publication for his accomplishments over spring break. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

I thought it was interesting because it would give us a feature that most professional newspapers around the country do every week, so I rolled with it.

So far, all semester I have been the one throwing the Pioneer Focus together and trust me, it has been a bit of a challenge.

At first, I thought it would be beneficial to share it week to week. However, I soon realized that to keep the continuity of it and as an editor, it would just be easier to do it myself.

The biggest issue, however, with doing it each week is the time it takes.

In the beginning it was really rough around the edges because I was trying to come up with something new that would catch readers’ attention. The first few editions took as much time as a regular story, which took away from me being able to write other pieces.

Now that I have the format down it is a bit better but still a tad time-consuming. It does not take as much time as a regular story but it does take a good chunk of time, making balancing my job as sports editor harder.

Also, getting a hold of athletes can be hit or miss.

For example, when I wrote the Pioneer Focus on Isiah Elliot, he got back to me within an hour and this week’s athlete, Marie Konstan, didn’t get back to me until Sunday night.

Not to knock on Marie because I know college life is crazy, but I wasn’t sure if she was going to get back to me so I went ahead and sought out another athlete.

I reached out to Tayler Carpenter on Friday and she got back to me by the end of the night. I was just about to post Carpenter as the Pioneer Focus Monday morning when I saw Marie got back to me.

So I had somewhat of a dilemma, a decision to make, and I chose to run Marie this week and Tayler next. So for the first time, the Pioneer Focus won’t be a secret until publication, only her answers will.

Despite some of its shortcomings, I love this feature. It really gives the sports section a stronger newspaper feel, the paper as a whole more color and it lets me cover a variety of athletes from all of the sports.

Who knows what is in store for the Pioneer Focus going forward but I am grateful for the opportunity to publish it each week.

My only hope for the feature going forward will be that it continues to run each week, even after I graduate. I want it to be my imprint on The Aviso AVW.

Chris Sherwood is sports editor for The Aviso AVW.

Categories: Reporters' Blog, Sports

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