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Discussion: Seattle Times O article

in: Orienteering; News

Apr 7, 2022 10:51 PM # 
Backstreet Boy:
Apr 8, 2022 6:08 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
That must rank among the very best write-ups about our sport in any American outlet?
Very nice, and kudos to coach Brady!
Apr 8, 2022 8:43 AM # 
In less than three months a team in Washington travelled to Georgia, Arizona and Ohio? That's great!
But yes what a fine article! If anyone wants a template on how to write a good newspaper story that is it. Start with something that brings people in, to want to read more and then increase the information. It is like building a pyramid from the top down. Include lots of names and provide information by way of quoting others.
Strange photos, some of them, but you use what you have available.
Apr 8, 2022 11:49 AM # 
Great article! I sent it to my family in Seattle and Bainbridge Island! Congrats to the team!
Apr 8, 2022 12:53 PM # 
Wow, this is fantastic! Congratulations to the Tahoma team!
Apr 8, 2022 1:39 PM # 
That’s a really great article that showcases both the sport and a successful youth team.

Few will notice, but the caption for the Tucson photo is incorrect. Anyone who was there will know immediately what’s wrong, though!
Apr 8, 2022 3:46 PM # 
We noticed, Cristina!
Apr 8, 2022 8:34 PM # 
Great article, and a great set of stories to share. I especially appreciated the author’s observation about John’s “palpable passion.” :-)
Apr 9, 2022 2:46 AM # 
Mr Wonderful:
Incorrect captions are a staple of modern journalism.
Apr 9, 2022 10:24 PM # 
Google News, knowing my clicking habits, put this article in front of me before it made AP.
I had a very different reaction than most of the comments above.

My attention was grabbed by the photos, including the important lead photo. Only Gord has raised this issue, but only as more of an afterthought.
From my perspective, this was the beginning and end of my interest. I still haven't read the article. I accept the reports above, that the writing and subject matter were great, positive, wonderful...

My concern is that prospective orienteers seeing this article, had a similar, or probably more adversely scarring reaction to orienteering, thinking "Why would I want to be part of this activity that stands around outdoors, as a group, looking down?" before clicking away or turning the page without ever reading the article, or googling up orienteering.

There are people with more expertise than me in marketing and psychology, but I think it is very likely that the impact of imagery is much more important to attracting prospective orienteers than text, no matter how good the substance.

It is one thing to admire ourselves in the mirror (such as the galleys of meet photos of people standing around) if the publication is directed to ourselves, but in a public forum, the whole point is to appeal to others, and I think we have long demonstrated a lack of awareness of how we look to non-orienteers, and overlooked the importance and content of imagery (photo, video, and more) to portray our sport in an attractive way to prospective orienteers.

Granted, the selection of imagery is often done by others, but even when that is the tendency, the point remains, we need to be as assertive and pro-active as possible.
Apr 9, 2022 10:37 PM # 
Good point Eric!
Apr 9, 2022 11:00 PM # 
Fair point, though in this particular case the backdrop is a very nice view and may totally override whatever subconscious impression the standing around makes. I don't count, since I'm an orienteer, but the first thing I noticed about the article was the pretty outdoors scene on top. Big difference between that photo and one of a bunch of people standing around in some dark, muddy woods.
Apr 9, 2022 11:08 PM # 
It is photogenic standing around, yes. But if you're one of the large majority of Americans who already "knows" that orienteering means compass and pace count (yawn), it does nothing to dispel that myth.
Apr 9, 2022 11:44 PM # 
Pink Socks:
I went to the Seattle Times Facebook page to see if there were any comments on the link to the article, and lo and behold, there was someone making fun of that photo, something to the effect of "all of these kids in the wilderness, and they are looking at their phones!"

Obviously, *we* know that they are looking at folded-up maps, but I'd be willing to bet that an overwhelming majority of readers assumed they were phones, given what they see in every day life.

Also, the first comment on the Seattle Times website was only made to point a typo on the orienteering map title. (The CascadeOC map has the correct spelling, but it was misspelled for the Tahoma HS training activity.)

At least the title mentioned "track meet", so that was a positive angle that I hadn't seen before, and the article was a great piece of journalism.
Apr 10, 2022 2:34 AM # 
I didn't want to rain on the parade of earlier positive comments, but I had the exact same first impression as EricW: really uninspiring photos of a bunch of people standing around, photos that don't convey much about what orienteering actually is, unfortunately.
Apr 10, 2022 9:55 AM # 
For a local paper the story isn't the sport, it is locals on top of a sport at national level. In that context the photos make sense.
Apr 10, 2022 1:10 PM # 
I thought people in today's era would be more interested if they could stand around and look at their phones as part of the sport. Then they could brag to their friends that they are "keeping fit" whilst staying connected.
Apr 10, 2022 7:59 PM # 
The final thing Good says was "you have to use what's available". So I looked at the OUSA for some appropriate photos and, well you try it.
n.b. I'm not trying to get at OUSA, other sites are similar (inspired by the photos on AP anyone?): the point is that its hard for a journalist to quickly source a great photo because there are many aspects we'd want to capture, like
looking at a map,
in a nice place,
looking competitive,
appropriately dressed.
Apr 10, 2022 8:27 PM # 
Anyone looking for photos on the OUSA web site should check the Event Recap pages linked from the results page. Links to LOTS of photos - last weekends Junior National Recap alone has over 1100 photos including almost everyone from the Tahoma team - running competitively with maps in hand.
Apr 10, 2022 9:02 PM # 
Pink Socks:
From what I understand, I think most of this article was written before JN's and the photos and such were already submitted, and they just updated a few results from JN's before they published.

(I don't know the exact details, as I'm not a part of the Tahoma group, but I was aware that a Seattle Times article was in the works several weeks before it was published).
Apr 10, 2022 9:36 PM # 
Even if not specific to Junior Nationals, Clinton does have 1000s of great orienteering action shots, in Facebook galleries and the OUSA page already mentioned. I'm mainly mentioning that because I really enjoy looking through his photos. :-)
Apr 11, 2022 12:19 AM # 
I still think the Seattle Times article was/is a good one. Heck it has inspired my siblings and cousins to do a little street orienteering in Blaine WA when we are there for a family reunion next August. (Well, I prompted a little)
The later comments above here inspire me to think of how hard it is for a reporter who knows nothing or very little about the sport to be able to get it right in the time and space available.
That got me thinking back to that ill-fated/ stillborn attempt of some of us involved with O-USA to get our heads around marketing the sport.
Here are two of the keys to successful marketing and they are pertinent here and in all interactions with media.
1) control the message
2) make it easy for them to write and think positive things about orienteering.
How do we do that?
I think a start would be to write and save a template article about orienteering and its value to the community and have that available for local clubs to give to the curious reporter as a work sheet to start with.
Knowing that visuals are so important have a selection of photos that show the best of the sport.
This isn't about media but this slide show is an example of trying to get the right message about orienteering to local Parks departments and has brought good reactions from those that have seen it.
Parks departments, Media, School boards, the man in the moon: if you want them to have a good view of orienteering make sure you give them the view you want them to see and the view they will remember.
Apr 11, 2022 12:43 AM # 
I think Graeme's point is more about whether they are easily findable than whether they exist or not....

For what it's worth I actually think the choice of photos arent bad at all. There is a wide variety of images including a solo runner. There are kids with smiling faces clearly having A LOT of fun. There are photos of groups showing that this is a sport you can do with friends. And yes there are photos of people standing around. I prefer to think of it as photos of athletes and coaches! Coverage of all sports show photos of coaches and athletes interacting. Unfortunately that's rare in orienteering because we dont have a lot of coaches and athletes typically have to figure it out on there own. And we lose a lot of good athletes because they get more support in other sports they are also good at. Bottom line, showing folks learning the sport from others is a positive thing.
Jul 8, 2022 10:40 PM # 
This article was specifically about the Tahoma’s school team and all of the training we provide to the team in the Seattle area and this their success at national events. Yes it’s about orienteering, but specifically about youth being trained and working together to achieve goals. The group photos showcase the social and coaching aspect that has helped to make Tahoma a powerhouse team.

This discussion thread is closed.