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Newspapers don't care about track

At the suggestion of a colleague, I tried to drum up a little extra work for myself tonight. Jenelle Deatherage, who is based in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota, took second in the 1,500m, punching her ticket for the World Indoor Championships. (Which are in Spain in two weeks; perhaps I’ve mentioned them.) “Nobody’s here from the Minnesota papers,” they told me. “Call the Star Tribune and see if they’ll take a story if you get it there before their Sunday deadline. If they don’t bite, try the St. Paul Pioneer Press.”

So I called the switchboard of the Star Tribune, got a voice-directed robot to transfer me to the sports desk, and made my pitch. “Interesting,” they said. “If you’ve got a press release, send it to…” I’m not offering a press release, I said. Well, they replied, we’ll probably just cut it down and run a paragraph in the “briefs” somewhere anyway. I said if that was all they needed, there was probably already a release at the USATF site. Thanks, they said.

So I called the Pioneer Press. One “press three for…” and I got the news desk, who sent me to sports, who sent me back to news, me making my pitch each time. “No,” they said, “we wouldn’t really give a freelance assignment on anything like that.” So I suggested the USATF press release again, and they thanked me for bringing it to their attention.

This, I suspect, is par for the course in newspaper sports desks. Area woman makes her first international team of any sort in years of trying, but area newspaper doesn’t care, even with no football or baseball to write about. (There is hockey there, of course, and probably loads of high school sports at this point.) And I, for once being a little proactive about marketing myself as a writer, instead wound up essentially doing volunteer publicity work for USATF. Not necessarily a bad thing for the sport, but not a terribly effective use of my time.

I have a lot more to say about this—it’s a telling little anecdote—but I have a sort-of press release to write, and this was really just the warm-up.

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