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At what point should you as a reporter point out the wrong call was made?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Spartan Squad, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. boxingnut4324

    boxingnut4324 Member

    Covered a hockey playoff game a month ago between Public and Private. Real big game.

    Early in the game Public gets a breakaway and roofs a goal that hit the top of the net, bounced down and bounced out. Public and their fans went nuts, the light went on, Private stopped and got ready to regroup after the goal. However the ref waved it off.

    All of us press thought it was a goal and after the game one of the writers who was shooting video showed us all the replay on his camera. It was a goal clear as day 100% no bones about it. So it was reported as such on Twitter and in the story.
  2. micropolitan guy

    micropolitan guy Well-Known Member

    And usually, that's the case. In the instance you pointed out - an apparently incorrect offside call negating the tying goal very late in the game - it clearly wasn't, and merits mention.

    People always say one call doesn't affect a game. I'd say the 1998 Seattle Seahawks, who lost out on a win over the Jets, and thus a playoff berth, when Vinny Testaverde was ruled to have scored when he was clearly down at the 1-yard line on the final play of the game, would beg to differ.

    Yes, saying one play impacts the entire game is usually ridiculous. But there are always instances where it is not ridiculous, but the incontestable truth.
  3. Morris816

    Morris816 Member

    As a reporter, you don't get to say the call was wrong yourself (exception: opinion piece). You can say a call was controversial and you can quote a player or manager/coach about it. But "blown call" requires attribution, whether it's the umpire admitting it or another involved individual saying so.
  4. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    Look. If it's a bad call, you can report it -- in a column. Not in a news story, unless you have documented proof. And if you say it in a column without documented proof, you're dangerously flirting with the fanboi line. Yes, you are.

    And as far as the original question, whether you point out an error in the moment, during the event, that is simply a no-brainer. You are not to affect the story. You are the fly on the wall. If you can't be the fly on the wall, don't be a reporter.

  5. SnarkShark

    SnarkShark Well-Known Member

    I'm gonna use your guys' ideas to describe my next game story...

    Team X appeared to defeat Team Y on Thursday night because Team X appeared to touch the plate three more times than Team Y over nine innings.

    The most crucial play was what appeared to be a three-run home run by Player X in the bottom of the eighth inning. Team Y pitcher appeared to throw a 3-1 fastball, which Player X appeared to hit with what appeared to be a baseball bat. The ball appeared to fly over what appeared to be the left-field wall.

    There was a controversial call in the fourth inning, when Player Z was called out on a force play at first base. It appeared he was safe, because the ground ball to shortstop was never thrown to first base, but the umpire called the player out at first, so he must be right.
  6. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    OK, if you want to be silly, somebody else can try to explain.
  7. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Anything to make yourself part of the story, I guess.
  8. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    Yikes. You clearly don't get it.
  9. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    Do you not realize that in the case you cited of the tennis player making the call himself that if you wrote that the kid called the ball out when it was clearly in you could very well get sued and you would have a hard time defending that if you have no one backing you up?

    You would be defaming a kid and quite possibly affecting his opportunity for a scholarship (as much as we like to make fun of having an impact on a scholarship), impugning his name, etc., based solely on your opinion.
  10. SnarkShark

    SnarkShark Well-Known Member

    I didn't cite that case.
  11. SnarkShark

    SnarkShark Well-Known Member

    A great game story isn't about listing statistics or making sure all the box score information is in there. It's about capturing emotion, a moment or something out of the ordinary, and doing your best to transport the reader there.

    The point I was making is that we use our own observations to describe all kinds of things in game stories, but then when controversy strikes, we don't report what we observed and what is clearly true? All of the instances I cited were egregiously wrong. That's why I didn't get any hate mail or any defamation lawsuits (that's not how defamation lawsuits work, anyway) when I described them. In all those cases, every person who had any sense knew the calls were wrong. Not reporting what happened - "The ball didn't go into the hoop," "The player was high sticked, but a penalty was not called," "the player stepped out of bounds prior to scoring a touchdown," "the base runner touched home plate before the ball arrived" - is actually being biased and not objectively reporting what happened. It's biased toward this ridiculous notion that journalists always have to tell "both sides of the story" even if there is only one side. You can quote every party involved, but you have to describe what actually happened.
  12. bydesign77

    bydesign77 Active Member

    Through all of this, I have read too many reports that stated the officials were wrong when in fact it was the reporter who didn't understand the rules or the enforcement.
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