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A reader e-mail that irks me...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Jay Sherman, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. apeman33

    apeman33 Well-Known Member

    Only to soccer parents.
  2. Write back. Take the time and do it right.
    Stay above the fray. Be 100 percent honest and forthcoming.

    In my experience, 9 times out of 10 you'll actually get a much calmer letter in response to your response, or none at all. I think people get pissed off because they think they know everything about our jobs, and when they find out the truth, they many times back off.

    If the reader is still a d-bag, at least you presented your side and did the best you could, and you know there's no winning a battle with that particular person.

    Do not just write back, "Thanks for the feedback," or "Thanks for reading," and nothing more. Anyone with half a brain would be immensely insulted by such a half-assed response. (Insert joke here about whether this reader has half a brain.)
  3. editorhoo

    editorhoo Member

    Ok, this one hits home, as I've received countless e-mails, voicemails, letters concerning the issue of "my kid works just as hard ..."

    If the person contacting you signs his/her name to their words, then you respond. If it's anonymous, fuck 'em. If they can't put their name behind their words, then don't even think about what they've written to you for one second.

    I don't know if you want to pass along to your irritated reader/parent what I'm about to say, but this IS a dose of reality.

    The parents of our high school athletes today like to believe that if little Johnny tailback or little Suzie outside hitter works just as hard as the next person, he/she should receive all kinds of recognition. Well Joe Q parent, the world does not work that way.

    There's a reason Bill Gates earns more money and gets more recognition than the computer programer down the block who currently is drowning himself in Doritios and Mountain Dew. He's better, and better wins.

    These stupid-ass parents are teaching their kids that if they work hard, even if there's someone who is more talented and better at what they're doing than they are, that they'll still get a ribbon, and everything will work itself out, be wonderful, and we can all sing and be happy. It's bullshit. These same average kids are going to grow up, get a job, and one day when they're 24-years old and working a job they're not prepared to handle, but try their best anyway, they'll get fired for not performing well enough and wonder why they don't get ribbon.

    These parents are lying to their children and creating a soft generation.

    I work in a small community, and I put every prep athlete's name who participates in the game in the box score. You pinch-run in a softball game and don't make it past first, you still get your name in the paper. Try getting that coverage at a metro. Yet Mr. and Mrs. Proud Parent still find their way to complain that certain athletes get better coverage than others.

    This past weekend, there was a 30-hour period between Friday and Saturday night where I was working for 21 of those hours. That's nearly a half-week's worth of work in just over a day's time. Did anyone commend me, tell me I did a great job, took one for the team, went above and beyond the call of duty? Hell no.

    Welcome to life.

    Jesus Christ, holy shit, where's the Tylenol?
  4. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    i'm sad this has lasted three pages.

    just tell the cross country lovin' sonuvabitch to kiss off. he deserves nothing more.

    EDIT: for, well, to be less harsh. sorry.
  5. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    TP, that may be the greatest post in the history of sj. LMAO
  6. This is Howry do it

    This is Howry do it New Member

    The good news: that email is about 2,000 times more readable than the ones I get on a day to day basis.

    I actually prefer it when the parent-complaint email comes in misspelled and angry. It easier to respond to. When they're nice and cordial and "oh my son really tries hard, it sure would mean a lot to him to see his name in the paper, if you could find the time, sir," that's what gets me.
  7. bueller

    bueller Member

    Be civil. Also, hit "reply all" and add the coach, the athletic director and the principal, if you have those addresses. We had a coach pull that this spring and we followed that plan.

    The AD called our prep guy that day to apologize. A few days later, the coach was very thankful for all that we do, we believe, after some instruction from his bosses. When I did the school's football preview last month, the AD apologized again. I had forgotten about it.
  8. CM Punk

    CM Punk Guest

    Be glad someone is paying attention to your product. I'm lucky to get a lone e-mail every few months. I've not had anyone send a positive or negative e-mail. I've not had a single phone call. Either I do my job well or nobody gives a fuck.
  9. John Newsom

    John Newsom Member

    That's exactly right.

    When you reply, you don't have to fisk the e-mail. Tell the writer that you'll keep the other team members in mind as the season progresses (it's only September, after all), and explain why you were focusing on that one particular runner - i.e., you though the performance (or lack of it) of the area's top runner was newsworthy.

    P.S. That letter is more passive-aggressive than most. This week, ECU fan has told everyone here with a editor's title that we suck out loud and backwards for not blowing out its win over West Bygod Virginia on Sunday's Sports front. Never mind that we haven't sent a writer to Greenville since ... when did the Pirates start playing football?
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Look, the parents who are reading the stories are hoping to see their kids names.

    One mention would be golden to them.

    If they aren't mentioned, it pisses them off if stuck up Johnny Cross Country -- who didn't even run -- is mentioned.

    It's just human nature. Deal with it.

    Most parents will appreciate your response even if they don't agree. I've had more parents really support me and be a help when their initial contact was to be pissed off about something.

    Just have a reasonable explanation and sometimes be willing to admit you were wrong and you're good.
  11. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    Ace, I've had some of the same experiences. Readers often are happy just that you responded. There are many that I started off with on a bad foot with and now we get along great.
  12. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    ace - i'm hoping we aren't defining news by what the loudest bitch in the audience defines to be news ... this week.
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