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An ethical question

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Canyonero!, Oct 7, 2006.

  1. Canyonero!

    Canyonero! Member

    A private high school in my coverage area doesn't really have enough kids to field teams in football or baseball, but the A.D. has found ways of bringing in new kids -- ways that are dangerously close to breaking state rules, if not already breaking them.

    The school's teams get slaughtered everytime out, so the possible cheating isn't costing anyone, but that still doesn't make it OK.

    Now with the background laid out for you, here's the three-fold ethical question.
    First part: Some of the kids playing aren't enrolled in the school, but the school is the only chance they'd get to play because the alternative learning place they go doesn't have sports. They are good kids and just want to play.
    Second part: I've been on bad terms with this A.D. pretty much since the first day I was at this particular newspaper. I just plain don't like the guy. At all. I feel me writing something questioning the kids on the team and their eligibility might be done somewhat out of spite for the A.D.
    Third part: I worry by doing this, I'm breaking one of the journalism cardinal rules: Report the news, don't make the news.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    Hmm... interesting pickle. It's good that you're aware of your possible bias. I think that's a step in the right direction.

    Let me ask a question for clarification: has anyone made an issue of this? Does, say Coach Snort at Crosstown High (excellent name, BTW, Pilot), complain that Private Prep is using non-school players? Did a kid at Local High get his neck broken by one of these barely-within-rules players?

    I think it's worth contacting the state association for a clarification of the rules so that you have a solid knowledge of the situation. But deciding if it's a news story vs. notebook item may be dependent upon people actually caring.

    Good luck!
  3. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    By not doing this, you are breaking one of the cardinal rules of journalism -- ignoring a story.
    If you can prove they dont go to the school AND it is against state policy, then go for it.
    Be careful. In Michigan for example, students can play sports at School A if their own school within the district doesn't have sports. So students attending Community High can play sports for East Side or West side (depending on where they live) even thought they dont attend school there.
    If they are playing and violating state policy, you aren't making news, you're breaking it.
    Start at the state level. Ask, without giving schools, if there is a rule about alternative schools and sports. If its allowed, there is no story -- at least not that way. Could be a feature.
    But you also have to prove they dont attend school there.
    As far as the AD goes, if this isnt allowed by the state, he knows it and still lets it go on -- fuck him. He should be shitcanned for knowingly breaking the rules.
  4. sartrean

    sartrean Member

    I agree with the two other responses.

    To add, you could pass the story off to a stringer or newsroom writer to avoid having to write an article that may directly or indirectly display your personal bias against the AD. A fresh reporter on the story is more likely to give both sides more fairly considering that you do have personal biases against the AD.

    I have biases, not necessarily personal, about the private school sports in my state. So I just avoid writing about it altogether. I've always assigned those games to stringers.
  5. MC Sports Guy

    MC Sports Guy Member

    I don't agree with handing off the story. It's your story, and I'm sure your professional enough to handle it without letting personal bias enter in. This IS a big deal and should be reported. Any bias you may have isn't a factor here, in my opinion.
  6. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Agreed. Dont hand it off.
    But make sure it's a story first. See what your state association allows.
  7. rgd

    rgd Guest

    Yes, make sure to check if there is a co-op program in place where the kids at the other school (the one without sports) can play on teams at the private school.
  8. bigugly

    bigugly Member

    I would say that it isn't about the AD it is about the kids. With that said, if they are not winning and the "new" kids wouldn't get to play elsewhere that I wouldn't report it.
  9. sartrean

    sartrean Member

    It's about the kids, yeah right.

    It's about the kids until they leave the field and shoot somebody, or drive drunk and kill some one, or overdose on alcohol or other drugs at a post game party. Then readers are screaming, "why don't you just leave us alone!"

    It's about the kids while everything is fine. Then a kid cheats on an exam, get suspended from play, Podunk High loses the big one without Star Johnny, and it's no longer about the kids, but leave us the hell alone you media vultures.
  10. Canyonero!

    Canyonero! Member

    Cadet: The other coaches in the league know about the outsiders and don't seem to mind since the private school is a guaranteed W, and thus a chance for the scrubs to play.
    In fact, a team with a legit shot at the State championship in this division beat the Privates *bad* last night using mostly the benchwarmers, and the head coach said he was glad to get those guys some game experience.

    But yeah, I'm going to call the governing body Monday morning to get a 100 percent clarification on the rules. Thanks a lot everyone.
  11. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    There's nothing wrong with not liking the guy. It's human nature to want to dig a little harder for a story if you hate the guy. Just don't let your personal feelings get in the way of doing good, thorough reporting...
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