The Seahawks might have this weekend off, but we’re headlong into our coverage plans for their march into the playoffs and possibly to the Super Bowl.
Figuring out which reporters will travel, securing press credentials for games and preparing for press runs that add pages of coverage to the paper all require intensive planning. We have to almost ignore the fact, as many Seahawks fans already seem to have done, that the story could fizzle with a loss Saturday.
Several weeks ago, managing editor Dale Phelps dusted off the Super Bowl plan he wrote leading up to the Seahawks’ last appearance at one in 2006. Phelps’ plan for this year is equally ambitious, and technology has improved enough since then that we have even more ways to connect with readers.
Since Saturday’s game determined the Seahawks will play the New Orleans Saints next weekend, sports writer Don Ruiz will soon be on a plane to the Saints’ camp, if he’s not there already. He’ll spend the week offering perspective about the Seahawks’ opponent. By next weekend, he’ll move on to Charlotte, N.C., to cover the game that would determine the Seahawks’ conference championship opponent, if the Hawks make it that far.
Meanwhile, Seahawks beat writer Todd Dybas, sports columnists Dave Boling and John McGrath, and a handful of our other sports writers will be busy writing stories from here. (Not only does the Seahawks’ home-field advantage increase their chances of getting to the Super Bowl, it reduces our travel expenses.) We’ll add a full page of playoff coverage each day to our Sports section with several additional pages on game-day Saturday and post-game Sunday.
We’ll also run a series of four pull-out “Season to Remember” souvenir pages beginning Tuesday. These pages alone required weeks of planning. We normally send one photographer to cover Seahawks home games. For the past two games, we sent a second photographer solely to shoot photos designed for the full-page pullouts.
Each poster features a player and has recaps of four games from the 2013 season. Together, they will fill a fan’s wall with memories from the team’s already successful season. On the back of each pullout page, we’ll print a large 12th Man graphic suitable for hanging in a window or waving (tastefully) at an opposing fan.
Expect more Seahawks stories in the news pages this week, as well, as fan frenzy undoubtedly builds.
You can get in on the action by sending us pictures of your 12th Man get-up or display that we’ll use for a story and reader photo gallery. Submit photos under the category “fans” at: http://bit.ly/1dug4Aa.
All week long, day or night, you can join the conversation on our Seahawks Insider blog. Reader traffic has been building there, and last month, readers of the site (at blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks) made up about 10 percent of our website’s overall traffic. In addition to conversing with our reporters, you can see the photos and videos they post as events happen. During the game, you can chat live with our reporters and one another. Last week, 865 readers (including me) joined the chat. It’s almost like watching the game with a group of friends.
When the clock runs out on Saturday’s game, we’ll take a deep breath. Depending on the outcome, we’ll do one of two things — send our beat writer home for a much-needed rest or turn to the next page in Phelps’ master plan.
If the Hawks go all the way, we’ll have added more than 60 pages of coverage and spent about $50,000 on travel. We plan to send 10 staffers to New Jersey during Super Bowl week if the Hawks are in it.
We don’t do all this to show our allegiance to the Seahawks; covering their playoff run is a news story for us — a big one. But it’s also the talk of the town and a feel-good experience that lifts the collective spirit of our community. While covering it is hard work, we’re also having a good time doing it.
Karen Peterson: 253-597-8434