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30-Year Sports Reporter Says Respect is Key to Job

Michael Leland/IPR
John Naughton

John Naughton has been covering sports at the Des Moines Register for over 30 years. He has been to football, basketball, track and field, wrestling, baseball, and many other events across the state. On this Talk of Iowa, Host Charity Nebbe talks with Naughton about what the job has meant to him and what changes he has seen.

He says that it is important for sports reporters to remember that they are writing about real people that deserve respect. He says that one aspect of the work that has kept him doing it is that there are triumphant stories and interesting people.

"Most of the stuff we write about [...] is good news. You're celebrating the accomplishments of young people," Naughton says.

In sports writing it is important to report the obvious: who won and by how much. But Naughton says that energy must be spent finding something deeper.

"The fan in the stands who attends an event is going to know that score. They already know who won or lost, and so when you come out with your story, you need to give the reader something else that they don't have. Give them that behind the scenes story," Naughton says.

In the last segment of the program, Iowa State University lecturer Heather Coffman joins the show to talk about the sociology of sports.  

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River