Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Article: "Avs' Duchene Aims to Battle Out Of Losing Ways."

In this newspaper article, Adrian Dater takes a look at Avalanche center Matt Duchene's struggles of late (Duchene had scored one goal and three assists in the thirteen games after the all-star break).

The article is barely underway before Dater states something completely un-factual:

If the season had ended Monday, the Avs would have chosen fourth in the upcoming draft.
This is simply not a true statement; the NHL Entry Draft is not structured in the way that Dater indicates. Rather than strictly picking in reverse order of regular-season finish, the draft includes a lottery system for the first round of picks. Had the season ended Monday, the Avalanche would likely have picked fourth, but they could also have picked either first or fifth. These are the sorts of things that reporters should either know, or research, before writing about.

The article contains a number of good quotes from Duchene, and left me impressed with his attitude during both the team's and his own struggles on the ice. When given an opportunity to bad-mouth his coach a bit, Duchene declines, answering that things like that belong in the locker room. While I don't fault Dater for asking a tough question, I'm pretty happy with the way Duchene chose to answer it. 

Dater then uses a quote from Sacco about player's confidence during this prolonged skid, and establishes that Sacco was indeed referring to Duchene as one of the players he feels lacks confidence right now. It would have been a perfect way to lead into a final question of Duchene and what he thinks of what his coach said, but Dater does not go there. He throws in this Sacco quote, and then kind of just leaves it there unresolved.  

This is not the first time Dater has had something decent going writing-wise, failed to recognize it, and pretty much gobbed it up. He does not seem to recognize the flow present within every well-written piece -- introduction, body, conclusion -- but favors a ransom-note style of composition in which he cuts and pastes sentences together until he has the number of words ordered. I don't know if the fault lies in his ability, his effort, or his editor, but whatever it is, the end result is not good newswriting.

Since it's an article about Duchene and not Sacco, it would have been fitting to allow Duchene to respond to Sacco's comments on his confidence, and it would have made a very satisfying conclusion to this article, but that doesn't happen. Instead, it closes rather awkwardly with a brief quote about the arm injury that sidelined Duchene briefly in February. The subject of his arm injury would have fit much better in the body of the story rather than as the conclusion.

This article features some good quotes about the Avs' current and future star during his first major slump with the team, but the article itself is lacking. Errors reported as fact, and an overall bizarre structure with a decent start, a muddled middle, and a non-existent conclusion, combine to create a rather poorly-done story.


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