By Rylee Nelson
FARGO, N.D. – Experience begets excellence.
And The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead’s sports staff certainly demonstrated that in covering the North Dakota State University Bison football team’s upset victory over defending Big 12 Conference champions, the Kansas State University Wildcats on Aug. 30.
The Forum’s coverage of the big-time upset came together as a coordinated team effort, the reward for which came at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, when ESPN during its nightly coverage of the college football scene featured the cover of The Forum’s Sports section detailing the big Bison win.
But that lofty recognition didn’t come easily. It took experience, sweat, dedication and lots and lots of preparation.
‘I think it might be ESPN’
When news came in soon after the end of the game that ESPN was interested in displaying The Forum’s Sports cover on their network, Forum Assistant Sports Editor Hayden Goethe, was stunned.
“One of my co-workers said, ‘Hey, someone from Connecticut is calling; I think it might be ESPN,’” Goethe said.
Sure enough, it was ESPN News Editor and Coordinating Producer Steve Peresman on the line, but before Goethe could get too excited over ESPN’s request, he knew the staff would have to get crackin’ on that night’s Sports section. Goethe, who was responsible for designing the Sports cover that night, hadn’t even started on it.
“My cover was blank,” Goethe said.
Goethe quickly focused, with the help of his staff, to finish the page. He coordinated with Forum photographer Carrie Snyder, who was in Kansas, to get the cover art and asked everyone at the desk to help with headline ideas.
“Andrew Gottenborg said ‘Manhattan Magic’ and I said, ‘That’s it; that’s the one,’” Goethe said. “The Bison have had so many wins that I feel like I am running out of ideas. It is going to be a real problem if they keep winning. In this type of significant event, it is important to listen to the advice of others. Many times our interns and reporters have great ideas because they have fresh perspectives.”
To manage the coverage on that pressure-packed night, The Forum enlisted a majority of its sports staff, including sending three reporters and one photographer to Kansas, and assigning seven people to man the sports desk back in Fargo.
“We just have an experienced staff that can kick the stuff out on a big night,” said sports reporter Tom Mix. “They are all pros.”
Jeff Kolpack, a veteran sports reporter for The Forum, was down in Kansas to witness the upset.
“90 percent of the coverage is pre-planning. In my years here, I have done this a lot.” Kolpack said. “We were all going 100 mph, and this was a total teamwork effort.”
For the sports staff, this was more than a personal achievement, it was a testament to the quality of the staff at The Forum.
“This was a great night for The Forum, no question about it,” Goethe said.
The Forum is owned by Forum Communications Co., which is a multimedia information company based in Fargo. FCC owns dozens of newspapers, websites and television and radio stations, and commercial printing plants in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.