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The man has an opinion

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Looking for a guy who can't wait to go to work each day? Track down Mike Mitchell next week at the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament.

Mitchell is a man of many talents and projects, and his latest venture is serving as the sportsblogger for semissourian.com, the Web site of the Southeast Missourian newspaper.

"It's a blast," Mitchell said. "I look forward to it every morning. I start around 6 in the morning, sometimes as early as 5, thinking of story ideas and getting started."

Mitchell's blog debuted Nov. 14 and has featured commentary on area high schools, regional colleges, the St. Louis Cardinals offseason transactions and more. Readers can comment on Mitchell's columns, and he often replies.

"It's certainly real time with the feedback," Mitchell said.

Mitchell, 40, is used to fielding public opinions after spending six years as a television news producer in Knoxville, Tenn., from 1988 to 1994.

But he only recently has had the opportunity to mix business with his passion for sports.

The 1984 Chaffee High School grad, who received his bachelor's degree from Missouri and a masters in business administration from Tennessee, also worked in consulting before moving into information technologies and sales for General Electric Healthcare.

He left that job in 2004 to research and write the book, "Show Me Kings," which chronicled the successful basketball programs of Arnold Ryan at Puxico, Carroll Cookson at Advance and Ronnie Cookson at Scott County Central.

"Sports is something I've always been around and enjoyed," said Mitchell, who participated in football, basketball and track at Chaffee.

His days as a player at Chaffee, taking some lumps from Cookson's powerhouse teams at Scott County, planted the seed for the book.

"I knew of a lot of the principles, and I thought that'd be a good story," Mitchell said. "I kicked it around for several years, and the timing worked out well.

"The book has done well."

Always in search of a good story or project, Mitchell approached Southeast Missourian publisher Jon Rust this summer with the idea for a sports blog.

Mitchell also is the owner and producer of Show-Me Videos, which is working on a documentary on the Southern Illinois-Edwardsville's 1979 NCAA Division I championship soccer team; and is assisting in the development of a Web site dedicated to sports statistics, analysis and projections.

Mitchell's background in television, computers and writing are helpful for his venture in the new media, he said.

"Working in TV, you learn to quickly read and assimilate information," he said. "When I worked in sales for GE Healthcare, you learn to work on computers and do things on deadline. We went in for presentations where you had to work quickly or get eaten alive. With the book, I got into the discipline of writing every day."

Mitchell said he monitors between 50 and 60 different Web sites each week for material. "And then those sites sometimes have links to three or four sites. It is a Web," he said.

"You never know what people are going to react to," Mitchell said. "There certainly is interest in area sports, college sports and tremendous interest in the Cardinals. They're a lot of fun to write about as well.

"I don't know if it what's I expected or not," he added. "I struggled at first to really define it. There are a lot of blogs, and they do all sorts of things. I needed to focus and stay in a niche."

Mitchell has found that -- mixing opinions with information from sources that people might not otherwise see.

"There are a lot of sources of information out there from newspapers, sports sites, message boards," Mitchell said. "I want to offer analysis on local sports and provide a gateway to interesting opinions that people may not be aware of."


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