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A shift in power

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Gator, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    Well, I ran it again. For me, for our paper, in the long run, it was just the easiest solution. Was it a smart monetary decision? No. Was he really going to cancel his subscription? Probably not. But, and this was the point I was making with this tread, I have to work a bit harder, and maybe do things I don't really love doing to keep a reader happy.

    Today, when they pick up the paper, that reader will be happy. So I'll feel pretty good about my job. That's much easier than answering an email from the EE about why this guy is calling to bitch at her.

    Truth be told, I think I just hated this guy because it was his kid who was left out. He submitted the results, and I'm wondering if he would have made such a big stink if it was another kid.

    The moral of the story is youth parents will eventually drive all of us small-town SEs to new careers.
  2. baddecision

    baddecision Active Member

    Good call, Gator.

    A side note: When irate parents-slash-"subscribers" call, it's fun to engage them in polite conversation about the rest of the content in the paper. In the vast majority of cases, it quickly becomes obvious these people aren't subscribers -- aren't readers -- at all. Furthermore, if they really are subscribing solely to follow their son/daughter's exploits in youth sports, guess what they're going to do when their kid graduates and/or stops playing youth sports? Stop subscribing. So that's a weak argument.

    The truly important point is the simple idea that you really should just make things right -- and if you can't do it the first time, do it now.

    In the aftermath of a mistake, large or small -- and I've made and had to deal with some doozies -- work on ways to reduce the possibility of repeating these errors. Improve the submission process. Print out reference rosters of kids' teams if you have parents who spell poorly. Improve your own attention to detail; using a highlight marker to cross-check names sometimes helps. And when you've screwed up, admit it and try to fix it.

    To that end: EVERY shop should have a written policy about CX's -- developed over time and informed by your wealth of experience, your interest in fairness to the customer and common sense. Another huge key to minimizing complaints is to be consistent in how you handle things, and this helps that.
  3. Mitch E.

    Mitch E. Member

    Gator, would he have been happy if you ran a one-inch correction listing the omitted names? In return you could have done up a mock page with the corrected version of the story and sent a print out it to him. That might work if he was only concerned with the "scrap-book" part of it.
  4. bigbadeagle

    bigbadeagle Member

    In this day and age, when people are looking to cut pennies, that's a helluva assumption to make. People are looking for reasons just like this to shave expenses.
    I would have run a correction/clarification, saying Johnny Pissant and Elmer Turdboy were inadvertently omitted from the story about the Shitbag championship soccer team and the error is regretted as much as Leon Durham letting the ball go through his legs in 84.
    I'm no fan of re-running the entire thing in the print product. However, putting it on the Web in all its glory, is something else.
  5. mediaguy

    mediaguy Well-Known Member

    By all means, run a correction. An omission was made. Re-running a note in its entirety to placate a single reader isn't in the best interests of the rest of your readership.
  6. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member


    You made one parent happy, but how many others did you lose a little street cred with?
  7. Freelance Hack

    Freelance Hack Active Member

    I agree on running a correction. That would have been my preferred route. Still would have gotten the kids' names in the paper, too.

    Now that my son is playing Little League and Youth Soccer, I'm starting to get a better feel for the parent's perspective, too.

    The C-J's Neighborhoods section prints the scores and goal scorers for our soccer league. A couple times, a girl who scored on my son's team had her name omitted. They weren't irate that it happened, but they were disappointed.

    It's a small group of people, but yes there are still people who will buy a paper (or two) or print off the web page showing their child's box score or photo. They don't care about any ads or any front page news. It's for their cubicle wall at work or the fridge at home.

    I know it sounds cliche and trite, but it does help to think about the reader. Agate and youth scores seem like a chore, but they're in the paper for a reason. People do read them.
  8. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    I've done that on rare occasions.
  9. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    Here's a related one:

    My local paper today ran a feature story on a 77-year-old who's headed to the senior olympics, which are in Houston this weekend.

    The writer added a list of the rest of the participants.

    Well, my mom is competing, and her name wasn't listed. Basically the paper listed the male participants.

    Not a clue where the writer got the list, but because he wrote definitively that the names he gave were the only ones participating, he created an error and should correct it.

    It's one thing to write gamers and not work in everyone (although, for the OP, I cannot imagine the story where I got in 11 names), but to list participants and omit someone is a bit different.
  10. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    Our prep editor had a rare treat many years ago.
    A guy from a local bar came in to get us to do a feature on a runner that the bar sponsored in this event they used to have in the High Sierras. Truthfully, it was a grueling event, something like a 100-mile cross-country foot race through mountainous, wilderness areas.
    The bar was local, but the runner wasn't local and the event wasn't local.
    The guy from the bar says, "And our guy almost finished it."
    Prep editor looks up and says, "My Mom DID finish it and we're not doing a feature on her."
  11. MTM

    MTM Well-Known Member

    Gator, was an error made, such as the kid scoring a goal and his name not being mentioned, or was it just an omission, such as "great defense was played by Jimmy, Kyle and Dirk"?

    If it was the latter, there's no correction to be made because nothing was incorrect.

    I would have told the parent I'd get his kid's name the next time if warranted.
  12. Turtle Wexler

    Turtle Wexler Member

    That is fantastic. Rare treat, indeed.
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