The RealSurf reporter FAQ

Posted on April 16th, 2010

We believe the Aloha spirit is every waverider’s inheritance. And for us sharing our knowledge and passion for waves openly and respectfully is a way to express that spirit.

For over 14 years RealSurf has relied upon a loyal band of like-minded surfers for our reports. All of us understand what other surfers want to know. We’re just as passionate about waves, the sea and the coast as our audience.

Although RealSurf’s centre of gravity has very much been on Sydney’s northern beaches, we have always had reporters from elsewhere in our region – and beyond. While surfers are most interested in what’s happening at their nearest beach, we all like to hear what’s going on with the waves elsewhere too – even if it happens to be the other side of the planet.

We’ve put together the following Q and A for all those good folk who might like to be a reporter on RealSurf…

Q. What do I need to do to become a reporter?
A: There aren’t any special qualifications really. As long as you can write in the Aloha spirit and are happy to tell the truth respectfully, you’re equipped. Of course you need to read the rest of this FAQ too!

Q: Do you pay reporters?
Hmmm…. how to put this… er, no. Not directly anyway. However, as you’ll see below, being a reporter certainly has the potential to help your business or cause.

Q: Do I have to be a certain age or have a certain level of knowledge?
Life experience and some years of surfing knowledge are essential. The first question you have to ask yourself is if your surfing friends rate you as being reliable and consistently accurate. There are exceptions that prove every rule, but over 14 years of RealSurf we’ve learned that the best reporters often have the following qualities: five or more years of surfing, familiarity with a wide variety of surf break types and conditions, of working age, comfortable with writing, not too one-eyed when it comes to equipment, localities, etc (ie tolerant and open minded), often stoked but always objective. And, you need to be able to report reasonably frequently.

Q: How often do I have to report?
We don’t have a hard and fast rule, but if you’re in Australia, we’d like to hear from you at least  four to five times a week.

Q: Do I have to supply reports by a particular time?
Generally speaking we like to have folks getting their reports in before 0800 local time. Many of RealSurf’s fans like to check us out before they get into the day’s work or study so the traffic starts to ramp up from about 0800 through to about 1000. Some of our reporters check the beach on their way to school or work, and so file a little later. That’s cool, but earlier the better is best for morning reports. If you can only file after lunch, then getting something up before the audience are knocking off work or school is good – ie between 3-4pm local time.

Q: Do I need to be a computer geek to put up a report?
Definitely not! If you can write an email, you’ll have no problem. These days RealSurf uses the popular blogging platform WordPress, so it is built from the ground up to be dead easy for writers. In fact, RealSurf has always been a sort of multi-person blog when you think about it!

Q: I like taking pictures, can I post them with my report, or do I need a special camera or software?
Adding pictures to your report is a fantastic thing to do. As a surfer you know how much we all like pictures of waves, so it’s a good thing that our site makes uploading images so easy. We’ll tell you exactly how to do it if you become a reporter. As for the camera, as long as you can zoom in enough to give the viewer an idea of the conditions, you can use pretty much anything. On the software front we have some tips and links to free tools you can use to crop and otherwise tweak up your snaps.

In case you’re wondering, the free software (well, nagware actually) I really like is faststone image viewer. I’d suggest downloading it and having a bit of a play. Then let me know and I can give you the precise instructions for preparing images for the site (super easy: short version is 480×360, med-high quality jpegs).

Q: Do I have to cover a particular beach? Can I cover more than one beach?
Usually this is not an issue, but there are some beaches (eg Dee Why!) which have several people covering them and so we might not need another voice. However, don’t just assume this is the case, particularly if you can cover a beach later in the day or at weekends. Just ask! Our system makes it quite easy to cover more than one beach too, so there’s certainly no problem with doing that.

Q: You mentioned that there are indirect benefits for reporters, what are they?
Because RealSurf’s front page is seen by thousands of surfers every day, it can be a great way to get your name out there. Whether you have your own business or you have your own website, being on RealSurf can help you build a reputation and traffic. We’ve recently tweaked the site so that when people click through to a report they come to a customised page that includes a banner ad position at the top which belongs to the reporter. As long as it doesn’t go against the spirit of RealSurf, reporters can run (and charge for) any ad they want. Naturally you may also have a link to your personal or business site.

Q: Okay, I’m keen, what do I need to do now?
Easy. First, if you haven’t already done so, get registered on RealSurf via the link below. Once you’ve done that, go to the feedback form (link is at the top of every page) and let us know what name you’ve registered under so we can get in contact with you.

Click here to register on RealSurf

Here’s a video that takes you through the report and picture uploading process


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