Reader representative

I must admit, I don't know much about sports. I mean, I know the general rules of most (or at least most that have teams at Harvard), but I don't follow those teams that closely.

So it doesn't occur to me when The Crimson is missing something. I do read the sports pages, but I don't generally know what should be covered on them and what shouldn't.

Readers need to point it out when they think The Crimson's coverage is lacking, and for the most part readers have been doing that quite conscientiously lately.

I've received many comments and complaints about The Crimson's sports coverage, perhaps because the sports section is examined especially closely by readers who expect to find their names on those pages.

The Crimson, for all it tries to be, is not a professional newspaper. It doesn't have a staff that editors can send on a road trip with a team. For sports reporters this means they're doing a lot of back-reporting, which is a far-from-ideal way to find out what's going on. It's also a good way to make mistakes.


(Back-reporting means not covering the event when it happens, but rather talking to people after the fact and asking them to provide their knowledge of the event--which can easily lead to a skewed or otherwise incomplete picture.)

Another problem sports editors face is a limited photography staff. Photographers simply don't have the time (and The Crimson wouldn't necessarily be able to give them the money) to follow teams on the road.

This means that The Crimson misses out on a lot of great pictures. So to give readers a sense of the action, sports editors are often left to rely on file pictures, which are often from previous events.

Early in sports seasons, photographers may not yet had a chance to photograph a home game. And sometimes home events compete with one another for the limited time and attention of the photographers.

I'm convinced that the sports editors allocate their human resources according to their best judgement.

Perhaps feedback from readers that would be most constructive would suggest ways in which The Crimson could cover what students want to read. That way The Crimson could weed out unnecessary stories and devote more coverage to areas of reader interest.

Pointing out more events for The Crimson to cover is also useful, because sometimes The Crimson doesn't cover things just because editors don't know about them. But expecting The Crimson to cover everything suggested opens a Pandora's box of infinite possibilities, and they can be simply overwhelming.

Both reporters and photographers, along with most everyone else at The Crimson, are students with other responsibilities.

Not Just Sports

The Crimson--and this applies to all coverage, not just sports--cannot always cover newsworthy events because there simply isn't always the staff available to do so.

One manifestation of this problem is that sometimes unimpressive stories end up with big play on the sports page or the front page. If you look at the rest of the page, you might see why: there's often nothing better.

Sometimes the bigger stories need more work so they're held for a day or two. Sometimes editors can't find writers willing to write when the bigger stories come along. And sometimes there just aren't any bigger, better stories on a given day.

The composition of Crimson pages, unprofessional as it may seem, is not always a result of careful consideration.

When the New York Times composes its front pages they usually have more than 50 stories from which to choose. More often than not The Crimson fills its front page with everything it has to offer--it's not as though editors can hide the weaker stories inside, because those stories are needed to fill the front page.

It's unfortunate that The Crimson loses credibility over this, but the composition of the pages each day is all relative.