Bryce Harper made his home debut Friday for the Washington Nationals' minor league affiliate the Hagerstown Suns. Harper, the Nationals' number one pick in the 2010 draft, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout out, and that is what most newspapers went with as the lede of the story.
The Washington Post article reported Harper's rough home debut, but they also went in a more in-depth direction in the coverage of the 18-year old phenom.
The lede paragraph the writer went with in this story was more of a one liner about the crowd coming to see the top prospect, but they saw a slumping 18-year old instead. That one sentence lede set up the next paragraph well and led to a good transition of what happened in the home debut for the rookie. The following paragraph seemed to be a descriptive type of lede that I thought worked well.
It was opening night for the Hagerstown Suns, after eight games on the road, and when Bryce Harper strode to the plate in the bottom of the first inning, the voice of the public-address announcer got a little higher and louder as he introduced the batter, and the sellout crowd of 6,017 at Municipal Stadium, bundled up against the chill, came to life, wrote The Washington Post.
This paragraph provided good details and the reader can almost imagine being at the game on the chilly Friday night and seeing Harper walk up to the plate to bat.
Most importantly, I didn't think this article was biased. The Post's coverage on Harper, at least in this story, didn't throw any punches in how they wrote the article simply because the rookie is the Nationals' number one prospect.
Harper is only batting .226 (7 for 31) with the Suns, and The Post's story did not act like that fact wasn't a big deal. In fact, the headline for this article read: Bryce Harper makes home debut for Hagerstown Suns in hitting slump.
While the story wasn't a long one, it still went into depth. Rather than end the story with the news of Harper's rough game, The Post writer quoted Harper, the Suns' manager and Harper's father to get their side of whether they thought the young player was in a batting slump.
"He’s been through it,” his father, Ron Harper, said. “Going through that last year has helped him this time. He knows it can take a few games to get going. He’s going to be fine. I hope everyone’s not in panic mode — because we’re not," wrote The Washington Post.
Strong quotes such as this provide more credibility to the story. The Post article was well-written and didn't seem to be biased towards the coverage of Harper.
The Washington Times article did a good job of not being partial to the top prospect as well. But their story was too short and, compared to The Post article, didn't go in-depth on their coverage. The writer for The Times only included one quote from Harper as opposed to the three sources that were quoted by The Post writer.
While the article was not very long, The Times still did a good job of detailing how the game went for Harper and including a similar lede to The Post's article that included much detail.
Both articles are good examples of hometown based newspapers not being biased to their own sports teams in how they cover certain stories. It is crucial to not be biased in such coverage to establish credibility that will extend beyond the city newspapers cover.
It seems that often times sports writers get away with sneaking their own opinions into what should be hard news stories. Both The Post and The Times writers did a good job of not doing that, which produced well written stories and respectable journalism.