One of the most common questions we get at DNN is "Hey can our league get coverage too?" The answer is always "absolutely," but we need your submissions because our existing stable of writers can't be everywhere at once (even though a few of us have tried.) DNN does have some editorial standards, though, and we do edit submissions to fit them.
Currently the main focus of DNN is on publicizing upcoming bouts, reporting the results of recent bouts, and keeping an eye on the coverage of derby in the mainstream media. This means we probably won't publish a recap if the action happened more than two weeks ago and we usually won't mention a bout unless it's happening in the next couple of weeks (or it's a particularly big one).
We also shy away from simply reposting press releases (although, if the information provided fits into one of the above-mentioned categories, we will likely work up a post using the information.)
Things to submit through our Submit form
What not to submit through our Submit form
- Male enhancement offers
Justice Feelgood Marshall's Recap Style Guide
There are a number of different approaches that DNN contributors have been taking so far in their recaps. I personally tend to take a very clinical, objective approach (which has a lot to do with the fact that I'm officiating in a lot of those bouts and I really like staying as far away from potentially controversial statements as possible!) Mr. Hits (Boston) and Soapbox Dervish (Windy City) take a more flamboyant style, which works great for them and is totally cool. I don't want anybody to significantly change their style to fit a DNN 'template', but there are a few basic elements that I will usually add if missing or remove if present.
The first paragraph of the recap should always, at a minimum, include the location of the bout, the teams that played, and the final score of the bout -- you know, your basic who what where. "When" is usually not necessary unless you're submitting a recap more than a week after it was played. (The "how" is the rest of the recap!)
Also, if possible, drop a hook in that opening. Was it the first win for one of the teams, or is a team on a winning or losing streak? Was it a WFTDA seeding upset? Did one team travel 2000 miles to get to the game? Were there a lot of lead changes, or a big comeback at the end? Was it remarkably well-attended? Did it feature the return of (or the loss of) an injured skater? Just drop something in there that makes a reader want to find out more about the game than just the final score.
Keep it moving
Keep the readers grounded in the flow of the game. If you're writing a chronological narrative of the bout (which almost everybody has been doing so far), remember to include "score updates" through the piece. It can be disorienting to read about a bunch of 9-3, 7-2 and 4-0 jams but never be sure where the total score stood after said jams. At the absolute bare minimum, mention most if not all of the lead changes and the score at the end of periods.
In the same vein, time stamps are good too ... if you're mentioning a big jam, try to at least approximate how much time was left in the period when it happened. When I am recapping from the sidelines, I'll usually write in the game time after every third or fourth jam on my scoresheet, and so I can approximate the time stamp of any jam fairly accurately.
The length of a recap should be relative to how closely contested it was. As much as we might like to pretend otherwise, a jam-by-jam recap of a 150-30 blowout is not really compelling. Once you have established that one team is dominating the other, you can skip over a lot of the jams with a simple "Over the next seven jams, the Latvia Roller Dolls went on a 37-3 run over the Estonia Roller Vixens" before picking up the action again when Estonia starts doing something interesting.
Write for the medium
As Hurt Reynolds reminds me over and over again, writing for the web requires much shorter paragraphs than you can get away with in print. I don't really understand why that is... but it is. So always look for opportunities to break up long paragraphs into shorter three or four sentence paragraphs.
Try to stick to the facts. If there was a controversial call, generally shitty reffing, an egregious douchebag foul, or the like, you can mention it, but frame it in a way that focuses on the way the audience/players responded, not what YOU thought of it. (Good example: "With 4:48 left to play, the home crowd became quite displeased when a unclear major was called on jammer Dangerspeed McVixenbitch, sending her to the penalty box and sending her bench into an uproar." Bad example: "With 4:48 left to play, a terrible call from referee Reffy McRefferson totally fucked over jammer Dangerspeed McVixenbitch, who was as innocent as a schoolgirl." Extreme, but you get the idea.) Again, this goes to DNN's general aversion to creating controversy. The story should always be the bout, not what was written about the bout, if you see what I mean.
Try to mention blockers when they do something spectacular and/or if they are steady and reliable, but don't go overboard with this. It's important to keep a balance between giving the blockers some recognition and keeping the recap from being 3000 words long. Take a look at a recap of an NFL game sometime and count the number of times that the offensive line gets credit for a big yard gain by a running back -- not too many. Unfortunate, but it's the nature of storytelling to focus on a few main pivotal characters.
Along the same lines, avoid the temptation to mention a big hit JUST BECAUSE it was a big hit. If it stopped the jammer, freed the jammer, split the pack, ended action for a concussion, or got the blockee's mom to rush out of the audience and tackle the blocker, yeah, go for it -- but if it's just Blocker A decking Blocker B in a way that had no effect on the score of the jam, I don't feel it's really worth mentioning.
That being said...
This is still community reporting
Keep in mind that everybody who played in the bout is probably going to read your recap, so try to spread out the kudos. You don't need to mention EVERY player, but the more the better. And if you're only going to mention somebody once ... try to make it a positive mention. I have discovered in my journalism career that it turns out that rollergirls get sad if the only time they're mentioned is to point out their zero points in the 12-0 jam that sealed the loss for their team, and nobody wants a sad rollergirl.
Look to the future in your last paragraph -- hit up the league websites to see what the next bouts are for each league, and you can even set them up a bit if you like ("the Latvia Roller Dolls try to keep their win streak going as they go up against the Stalingrad Sisterhood on September 19th.") Leave the reader wondering what the next chapter in the league's story is going to be like.
Obviously, the most important part of the bout recap is the text of the recap but there are a few other elements that can really bring the reader more fully into the bout experience.
Depending on the league you're recapping, you might have access to mind-numbingly detailed stats immediately, or you might have access to absolutely nothing. We like to include some stats at the end of each recap, but don't just throw in a paragraph full of numbers.
Again, going back to the football offensive line / running back analogy, the sad fact is that scoring is the most relevant, most easily understood stat. At a minimum, do some quick scoresheet math to determine the highest-scoring jammer from each team. The details of other stats are slightly beyond the scope of this document, but we'll be posting up a quick-and-dirty guide to stats for dummies in the near future.
Pictures / Video
We loooove good pictures at DNN, and fortunately as derby gets bigger, they're easier to find -- flickr.com, fotki.com, smugmug.com and other photo sites are excellent places to go searching for recent bout photos. To make the lives of your very busy editors a bit easier, please submit a link to a bout photoset with your recap. Even better, send that link with a couple of your favorite bout photos with the skaters identified for captioning purposes.
PLEASE GET THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S PERMISSION WHEN SUBMITTING PHOTOS. 99 percent of all derby photographers will be totally cool with it if you leave a photo comment saying something along the lines of "Hey, awesome photos, I was at that game, I'm writing a recap for derbynewsnetwork.com and I'd love to use a couple of these with attribution." I have yet to meet the 1 percent of photographers who will say no to this. However, it's safe to say that many photographers would have a bad taste in their mouth if not notified, and nearly all of them would be offended if the photo was used with no attribution.
Video is much harder to come by and usually of MUCH poorer quality than pictures, but it doesn't hurt to do a quick YouTube scan to see if anybody has posted up a couple of jams from a cell phone or something -- sometimes you hit gold. If you do find something, please include the link.
For those of you who are particularly ambitious and have portable voice recorders, short post-bout interviews with the skaters can be awesome. Remember, the web is a very short-attention-span medium, so keep things quick -- 3 minutes is probably tops.
Remember to identify yourself, the skater, and the skater's team at the very beginning of the interview! It may feel dumb in person, but the audience can't see you, so all the info comes from what you say.
Try to avoid open-ended questions. An open-ended, vague question immediately gets the subject to respond with an open-ended, vague answers. Particularly avoid asking players how they feel about the game. (The answer is always "I feel good" followed by a list of sports cliches. Boring!) Ask specific questions ("Your team managed to go on a 30-0 run late in the second period -- how'd you manage to pull that off" or "You went in as a jammer more times this game than usual -- was that the plan going into the game or did it happen on the fly?")