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|| News Item: Posted 1999-04-08

Working The Sports Desk
By Mike Heffner, St. Petersburg Times

Photo by
While Brian organized the actual shooting team and its needs, I ended up in the rear with the gear, taking care of the back end, working with designers and fellow picture editors to organize our daily visual coverage.

Over the course of the entire tournament:
- we staffed 21 of 63 games, including all games from the Regional Semi finals on.
- put out eight different special sections from 8 to 78 pages.
- easily ran through nearly 600 photos (both staff and wires) over the three weeks, as we subbed out from edition to edition, which doesn't even include all the pix that didn't make the cut, and...
- nearly killed one picture editor ... me!

Looking back, it wasn't exactly fun at the time, but so rewarding (and amusing) to reflect on:
-Getting a call from our shooter at the Meadowlands that he lost his rental car and over $50K worth of gear...until he, the valet, and the cops realized they've been looking in the wrong parking lot for an hour.
-Trying to be a travel agent for Carolina shooters Patrick Schneider
(Charlotte) and Tom Copeland (Greensboro), telling them they don't want to change their hotel reservations to St. Pete, to stay in Tampa, since the bars are open later.
-Traipsing around Central Avenue at 1:15AM Saturday after the semi finals.... and having bars CLOSE DOWN!!!???
- Running into a few compadres from across the country who were in town.
- Having digital cameras go down at least three times in three weeks. - And finally, pounding a cold one with the Times shooters and staffers until the wee hours Tuesday after it was all said and done.


Establish a team of shooters early on and prepare them. We knew who was going to shoot the Final Four around New Year's Day.

We sent them on the road a time or two, funneled hoops shoots their way, kept talking and planning ideas and angles for the Final Four, sent them to the Regionals, walked through the Trop with them on Wednesday to familiarize them with sight lines, film drops, etc.

By the time the Final Four went off, they were as prepared as they could be.

It's a team effort - for the game nights, we also had three or four picture editors looking at action and off action stuff for the entire paper, along with about 8-10 people in and around the lab to shuttle film back, develop film, scan and caption photos ---it takes a huge infrastructure to do this right --- Brian and I may have been the point people, but there's a lot of people pulling together behind the scenes to give us the opportunity to

Talk about what you're shooting. Before the games, the entire team met for about a half hour to discuss points of emphasis: who do we need to shoot, who's in the stands, do we have any questions or problems, what needs to be filed tonight first, what angles are we trying to work. With two film shooters shipping film back to the office, along with two digital shooters being edited on site by another picture editor, everyone needed to be on
the same page every day - and the vast majority of the time, we were.

We came into this event with the goal of documenting all aspects of the Final Four as completely, professionally, and creatively as possible. I'd like to think we managed to do it.

Super Bowl in January 2001 in Tampa - this time the hotels will be closer - see all of you back here again.

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