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Web gives breaking news sports editor more freedom

By Kyle Williams
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Stuart Courtney editor of ChicagoBreakingSports.com

Stuart Courtney, online sports editor for Chicago Tribune

Stuart Courtney has been in sports editing for the past 30 years, but the last four years have been the best of  his career.

That’s how long he’s worked as an online editor for the Chicago Tribune’s breaking sports news site.

“I enjoy editing online much more than I do for newspapers or magazines,” Courtney said in a phone interview.  “When working online there aren’t any hard deadlines, you don’t have a limited amount of space and you can break the news as it happens.”

Before joining the Tribune, Courtney was the sports editor at  Chicago-Sun Times. He started his career in 1983 at a local sports magazine called Inside Sports.

Editing online gives editors more freedom, he said.  Designs can be much more creative because space on the Web is limitless. This allows more varied and unique content than on newspapers.

Courtney also believes the lack of hard deadlines allows more freedom for how stories are reported. Stories can be broken and then expanded on later as more information is uncovered. The Tribune can deliver news  as soon as it happens and then post an article to answer more questions later.

Courtney, who is in charge of the Tribune’s breaking sports website, revels in the ability to break news as it happens.

Courtney wants the breaking sports site to become the go-to-place for sports fans who want breaking local and national sports news.

He said he’s had many memorable moments during his time with the Tribune, but one stands out. Breaking the news of the Chicago Bears hiring new head coach Marc Trestman in January was one of the more memorable moments of his career.

“I received a call at around one in the morning from Brad Biggs, our Bears beat reporter, that Bears had hired  Trestman as their coach,” Courtney said. “We were able to post it on the website before our competitors had even wakened up.”

Courtney was also able to get the Tribune to stop the presses so the breaking news could be added to the morning edition of the paper. No other paper in town had the news that morning.

Not all days are that exciting.  On an average day Courtney wakes up around 5 a.m. to check recent sports news via Twitter and other competing sports news sites. He gets to the office around 8 and is there until late at night.

Each day varies for Courtney because it is impossible to predict what news will break until it happens. That and being the first to know the latest in the sports world are some of the best parts of the job.

“It’s great looking back after a long day and saying ‘Can you believe what happened today?’” Courtney said. “It also great being able to go up to your friends and be able to say ‘Did you hear what happened?’ and being the very first person to know.”

For those college graduates looking for careers as editors, Courtney says there are seven traits needed for success as an editor.

  1. Be curious. You have to want to learn about anything and everything.
  2. Have an interest in people.
  3. Acquire a love of reading.
  4. Develop strong language skills.
  5. Learn to work with writers.
  6. Be a strong leader in the newsroom.
  7. Develop a competitive instinct and a desire to be the best at your job.
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  1. April 28, 2013 at 10:29 am

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