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Another student question....Media Ethics

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by farmerjerome, Jun 13, 2006.

  1. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Well, Tom Petty can be abrasive, but I agree on this one. Some folks are hesitant to ask tough questions and the better they know their sources the more hesitant they become.
  2. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    wow buck, you highlight and bold the copy of my reply right up to 'every now and then' and then go on a rant about what maintaining relationships means and continue on with choosing battles.

    i fully understand maintaining relationships -- although i enjoyed the sermon -- but at times you do have to ask sources difficult questions if you are a professional. i was responding to the folks who go to places they know they may never leave and do anything and everything but 'rock the boat,' ever.

    if you work at a paper that's more than one of those local, 15,000-circ. homer rags that nobody respects, you have to ask the tough question at some time or you'll find yourself in the unemployment line. (note: many 15,000-circ. papers aren't afraid to ask the tough question and that's why they're respected.)

    never rocking the boat makes for some lame-assed journalism, and people who are afraid to ask that question should find another profession where they can hike their skirt up while on the clock.
  3. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    no problem buck ... i just thought you'd choose your battle better.
  4. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    Buckweaver and Ace are both right.
    So how you you find the balance between picking your battles and asking the tough questions.

    Is it all a judgement call?
  5. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    well yeah, buck, there is a be-all, end-all to asking the tough question. either you can do it and belong in journalism or you can't and should find another line of work. people put 50 cents in racks to get the truth, not some lazy-assed writer who squirms in his chair when it gets a little hot.

    i didn't think people earned their pay by being buddies with their sources. hell, you can ask all the tough questions you want to get to the truth, and only after asking that question can you decide how you're going to play it in a story. but, if you never ask the question, you never know the truth.
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Let's assume the judgment call isn't whether the question needs to be asked, but whether the story needs to be pursued.

    If the answer is yes, you need to ask that question. But you can be smart/sensitive about it.

    For example, say a parent calls to complain that Coach Doe favors certain kids and makes others, who are just as good if not better, ride the bench. Bet you would find that one of the "better" kids is the son of the caller.

    I would brush that off. Say it's the coach's decision. You're not gonna call Coach Doe and say, "Why aren't you playing Timmy, even though he's better than those guys who get to play."

    Now if the caller says that the coach favors kids who pay $250 to go to his summer camp and has told parents that players who don't attend aren't likely to play for him, you may have a story.

    You could dig a little see if there is a correlation. Ask others if this is standard or unusual, then have at the guy.

    If you are just fishing or swining out of the blue asking tough questions, you are gonna get a bad reaction or let the person dance out of it. If you are prepared, hey, you're just doing your job.

    Kind like buying a new car. You go in and demand to know what the invoice price is and say you'll only pay $100 more, you won't get far.

    You go in knowing what the car cost the deal and show him you are prepared, he will deal with you.
  7. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    ace - you're absolutely correct on the parent thing, those things you brush off.

    on the other matter, when i routinely wrote a helluva lot more than i do now and covered preps, i had great relationships with a great deal of my coaches and athletic directors and asked what a lot of people would interpret as awkward questions just to get them out there and not let 'em fester. parents talk, a lot, and therefore make a ton of things up in their own minds and would whisper shit into my ear.

    i'd turn around, openly talk with athletic director from school B and say: 'hey dave, there's a rumor mill running rampant and i have to ask to either extinguish the rumor or dig further into the matter ... but, parent A (without being IDed) said ... is there any truth to that?'

    99 percent of the time the AD would laugh and give a 'shit man, (long explanation)' and it would be over. parent A would come back, i'd explain the situation and 95 percent of the time the parent would be happy because: A) what was being said wasn't true and B) the paper was doing its job and they had someone in me who wasn't afraid to 'get it out there.'

    but, one of those times, i came to learn that a coach, at our second largest school, rationalized abusing kids, actually striking them and i had a two-part series with a column. people respected the fact i had the nuts to ask the guy the question straight up.

    i don't understand why so many on this thread believe 'getting it out there' is a bad thing and destroys sources. actually, most of the time, you're doing everyone involved a favor by having a sack.
  8. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    Speaking of asking the tough question:

    Have you ever been kicked in the sack?
  9. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    yup - it was in the third grade at recess by a little girl who reminds me a lot of you.
  10. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    At last, a worthy opponent.
  11. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    yup, oh yeah, "have you ever been kicked in the sack?"

    a guy really has to bring his A game when you're at the table.
  12. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    Just wondering, anyone know of any good (okay, and cheap) books on the subject? Specifically ethics in sports or ethics in small newspapers.
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