So it’s interesting to see how a level of coverage can vary within women’s basketball, even in a one-off, small sample size. Here’s how two newspapers covered yesterday’s Southern Conference Tournament quarterfinal between East Tennessee State and Furman. (The Paladins won, 71-68, in a contest that wasn’t decided until the literal final second.)
The Johnson City Press, following ETSU, published a 20-paragraph story featuring four quotes from three different participants -- including both head coaches and a Bucs player.
The Greenville (SC) Times, following Furman, ran a 12-paragraph story with one brief quote from the winning coach.
Of course, there are non-editorial, behind-the-scenes reasons why the Press went deeper than the Times, including different deadlines and the availability of writers. But the Press deserves credit for the longer story AND a gallery of 23 pictures taken at the game. The Times used an older file photo.
Context is also important. Thursday ended ETSU’s season, while Furman has at least one more game to play. So the Times will have the opportunity to devote more column inches to the Paladins.
Taking the context a little further back, ETSU went 7-21 two seasons ago. Last year, they won 21 games -- while the Bucs’ men’s team struggled -- and made a thrilling run to the SoCon final, in which they overcame a 24-point deficit with 17 minutes remaining to force overtime against league monolith Chattanooga, which had swept the Bucs in the regular season and was ranked #14 in the nation at the time.
ETSU also featured local players, like Tianna Tarter of Johnson City and Chandler Christopher of nearby Greeneville (TN), adding to the team’s appeal to the Press’ readership.
With more local stars bound for ETSU, look for the Press to continue its level of coverage, if not increase it. Especially if the Bucs follow up on their back-to-back winning seasons with another strong campaign. That’s just how it is.