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2 1/2-month-old complaint

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Smallpotatoes, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    This evening I return to my desk after a week-long vacation and check my voicemail. To my surprise, there is only one message.
    The caller was a lacrosse parent whom I talked to early in the spring, about a week or two into the season, in mid-April. She was unhappy that her kids' team had not been covered as much as she hoped it would and did not have any photos of it up to that point. I told her it was still early in the season and that I was sure at some point there would be more stories, photos, etc.
    On Thursday, she called again, saying that the team only had photos in the paper once and that it did not get the kind of coverage she hoped and wanted to know what I was going to do about it next season.
    The lacrosse season ended in early June. It is now mid-August, more than two months after the season ended. While I remember there being a lot of rain in May (and when a game that was scheduled to be shot is postponed, it tends to go under the bus. We can't just have the photog go when it's rescheduled) and I remember putting in photo requests for some of the team's games that our photo staff was not able to do for one reason or another, after two months had passed, I really can't remember exactly why and how what happened happened. And as far as what I'm going to do to make sure this doesn't happen again next spring, well, I still have a fall and a winter season to get through first, so it's not exactly the first thing on my mind at the moment.
    I would not have been surprised if I received this call in mid-June or even early July, but why would somebody wait until 2 1/2 months after the fact to complain?
    Does it take them that long to calm down?
     
  2. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    If they want to complain, they'll complain. There is no statute of limitations. I heard complaints about coverage of a certain athlete four years after he graduated. You have to wait until all of their kids have graduated before you have peace.

    I usually remind myself this way: They crucified Christ. What chance do I have?
     
  3. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Someone probably told her about it, because as we all know -- many parents like that usually dont get the paper
     
  4. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    "Thanks for your input. I'll give your suggestions some thought."

    Not much, but some. ;)
     
  5. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure what to tell her when I do speak to her. I can't remember exactly what happened and why it happened because it was so long ago. Might it have been a good idea to document these things, log all photo requests, keep a record of the games that were scheduled to be shot but rained out, requests that the photo department couldn't do, which games were staffed on which days and why and why not for games that weren't, etc.?
    I honestly can't remember a fucking thing about how this turned out the way it did. I have some rough ideas about what may have happened, but that's about it.
    And while the fall season is my more immediate concern, it being just a few weeks away and all, should I already be thinking about coverage strategies for next spring so this doesn't happen again?
     
  6. Roscablo

    Roscablo Member

    If you keep a log of every game you were at, of every photo that was taken, of every rainout, and of every time you tried to get a quote from said person's kid, you'll drive yourself crazy. You already are to some extent by even thinking about a coverage plan for next spring when the fall hasn't even started. There are a million parents who don't think their kids' team gets enough coverage. They don't understand you have 200 teams just like them to cover and you can't get them all in the paper every day. You just have to be respectful and explain that the best you can. Hopefully they'll be respectful back. Because there's bound to be another one lurking right around the corner with the same complaint. It's all about scrapbooks to many of these parents. They don't care about fairness of coverage.
     
  7. clutchcargo

    clutchcargo Active Member

    Smallpotatoes:
    I'm not sure what size paper you work at, but it seems to me you are much ado about practically nothing. You are worrying about this women griper too much. If you try to satisfy every irrational squeaky wheel out there, you will drive yourself nuts, and hurt your coverage elsewhere.

    Let her cancel her subscription. Yes, speak politely to her, but explain that it is not your paper's function to be a free publicity service for everyone who asks for coverage. This is ridiculous. Your main concern has to be your readership as a whole, and you are under no obligation to cover a lacrosse story just because one disgruntled parent decides after two and a half months to bother you.

    My experience is---every time you try to throw a bone to callers like this and do some sort of story, you will get three or more calls out of the blue from other people demanding equal time.

    Key question: Does your paper regularly cover lacrosse or not? Do you carry all scores in agate and game briefs elsewhere in section roundups, with the occasional feature? If so, then just throw her a bone, do the story, and move on.

    If on the other hand this is just nutty complaining, let it go and move on.
     
  8. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    What clutch said. Repeat after me:

    YOU CANNOT LET PARENTS DICTATE HOW YOU COVER SPORTS IN YOUR AREA.

    Repeat it again, louder:

    YOU CANNOT LET PARENTS DICTATE HOW YOU COVER SPORTS IN YOUR AREA.
     
  9. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    I am going to have to remember that one.
     
  10. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

     
  11. Terd Ferguson

    Terd Ferguson Member

    Small,

    You worry waaaaaaayyyyyy too much about the complaints and general butt-holeishness of the people you deal with. I appreciate the headaches you have to endure = i was once a former sports editor at the Daily Dipshitz - but there's a point where you've just got to roll with it.

    You're going to kill yourself worrying about how to respond to every mini-van driving soccer lacrose mom that calls in with a complaint.

    Ignore it. You don't owe her an explanation. You don't have to call her back. If she catches you out in the field, let her know you got the message and will take her "suggestions under consideration." If you have an e-mail address shoot her an e-mail and thank her for "her readership and suggestions. Our staff at the Daily Dipshitz is always looking for ways to improve the section. Blah. Blah. Blah."

    There are times people have legitimate complaints. Listen to those. Otherwise, just move on.

    If you know that you went out of your way to slight her kid and her team, then fix it. If you have been an ass hole or dumb ass to a coach and caused him/her to treat you poorly, work to fix the situation. If said coach is just an ass hole/dumb ass, then accept it and move on.

    Seriously, all this hand-wringing over reader complaints/ass hole coaches/athlete tomfoolery is going to kill you. Seriously.

    I don't know you, but I guarantee you deserve better than what you're allowing yourself and other people to give you.
     
  12. Smokey33

    Smokey33 Member

    Agreed.
     
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