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Being asked to hold off on a story

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Smallpotatoes, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    This week, I wrote a story about a new rowing team that was going to begin competing at one of the high schools I cover.
    The team was going to use an existing club's facilities, equipment and coaches and be self-funded. I talked to the guy at the club and the impression I got was that either it was definitely happening or whatever final approval it needed was just a formality.
    I talked to a few of the kids from the school who already row for the club. Again, it sounded like a done deal. A signup meeting was held. A parents meeting was scheduled in a week or so. The team already had a Web site and a schedule of practices and meets (or regattas or whatever you want to call them)
    For some reason, today, just a few hours before I was going to start laying out the section, somebody got skittish. The guy from the club called and asked to make sure that the story mentioned that the team was not funded by the school. I said OK. The AD called and said there was a final meeting with the superintendent tomorrow and asked if I could wait until after the meeting, which did not take place until after deadline. He said he'd call the superintendent after he got off the phone with me.
    Moments later, the AD called me back and said the superintendent "put the kibosh" on it. No team. The kids could row for the club if they wanted, but the club couldn't advertise in the school or be the team representing the high school.
    While this didn't happen right on deadline it was at a point when it did put me in a bind, with another centerpiece story having fallen through for this week.
    My mistake, I know, was not contacting the AD earlier in the process of doing the story, but why did everyone get so skittish about this pretty much at the last minute?
    It seemed like a fairly beign and non-controversial piece, at least on the surface.
  2. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Did they ask you to hold off, or did the AD merely inform you there was no story, since the team wasn't representing the high school? Sounds like you were about to run incorrect information and he clarified it for you.
  3. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    The way it was explained to me was that there was a proposal, that sounded like it was past the proposal stage, for there to be a high school team.
  4. Bubba Fett

    Bubba Fett Active Member

    The story then becomes how after apparently being close to a high school team, rowing will have to settle for being a club team. How does that affect the team financially, etc?
  5. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Could you call the superintendent to find out what happened? Might be a better source than the guy from the club.
  6. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    I would say so, but it's something that will have to go into another week at this point.
  7. fishhack2009

    fishhack2009 Active Member

    Sounds kind of fishy. I've covered several self-funded teams over the years, and no school I've covered ever "put the kibosh" on one. Bubba's idea is good, and should be pursued, but the last-minute spike would get my investigative ears perked up.
  8. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Just ask the superintendent why there couldn't be a team started up that was self-funded. You aren't being asked to hold off on the story. As for why people are getting skittish, with most states running deficits, starting a new school team doesn't look very good if you are asking for more money.
  9. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    Yes, ask the superintendent. If he's a jerk about explaining it, then THAT becomes the story.
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    It easily could have been kiboshed because of Title IX concerns or insurance or inability to find a coach that met state requirements, etc -- something that came up after some bureaucrat got involved or some other coach got pissed because he didn't get what he wanted.
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