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Blogs & Serious Journalism (Why should I give you a tip if it costs me my job?)

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Just_An_SID, Jul 8, 2006.

  1. Just_An_SID

    Just_An_SID Well-Known Member

    I've been meaning to post this for awhile ever since a friend of mine at another school got in trouble for this.  I am interested in hearing what you think, especially since it seems to be an area where a journalist is also writing a blog online for his paper and the results just about got my friend fired.

    Here's what happened.

    SID from a major school is going to release something with a potential negative side.  He is on the road at the time and before leaving to go home, he sees his beat writer and gives him the courtesy heads up about the story and that they are going to release it later in the day.

    Travel problems ensue and by the time the SID gets back to campus, the beat writer has posted an update on his blog, pretty much ripping the school (and the new AD) about what is going to be released.  Only problem is that the info hasn't been released.

    When the SID (and AD) get back to campus, the AD is greeted by another staff member with a printout of the blog in hand.  AD turns to the SID and rips him because nobody should be aware of what is going to be released shortly.

    Over the next two days, the AD decides to fire the SID for releasing the info before he was given the okay but later changes his mind (partly because you just can't fire somebody without a bunch of meetings and a whole lot of paperwork).  AD loses confidence in SID however and urges him to get another job (reports are that if he didn't find one by the end of the summer, that he would be fired).

    Here's my problem.  I have given my beat writer a heads up thousands of times regarding a story that was coming out.  This is a courtesy because I know that the writer is going to have to do a story and I didn't want them to be caught off guard if the release came out at 7 p.m. and they were unavailable.  But why should I give anybody a heads up if they are going to blog it almost instantaneously online and risk my employment status?

    Your thoughts would be appreciated.
  2. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    Re: Blogs & Serious Journalism

    That's pretty fucked up of the AD to punish the SID in this manner. Obviously the AD doesn't understand the SID's job and the concept of working relationships with the media. This reminds me of the situation in Colorado a few years back...
  3. tyler durden 71351

    tyler durden 71351 Active Member

    Re: Blogs & Serious Journalism

    I think if someone gives you the courtesy of a heads-up, you should keep it out of a blog before the news comes out. There's nothing wrong with writing up a posting, or an update for the paper's Web site, then waiting on the release before hitting "send" if you're worried about being scooped. (I've done that before and never heard any complaints from the people who gave me the info early.) What that reporter did was unnecessarily burn a good guy for nothing.
  4. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    maybe i'm wrong but if you give the beat writer the heads up, can't you tell him the info is embargoed until a certain time? that should prevent him from putting it on his blog. i would think it would be understood by both sides that breaking the embargo like this, even if it's unofficial, will destroy the relationship between the beat guy and the SID?
  5. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Re: Blogs & Serious Journalism (Why should I give you a tip if it costs me my jo

    I agree with Cadet. AD has no right to overreact in that situation. If you can't handle your school getting ripped in the local media, then you shouldn't be in a high-profile public position.

    As for your question, SID, you've got to look out for No. 1 in that situation. If it harms your relationship with the reporter, well ... oh well. You can try to make up for it later, in a different circumstance, help him out a little. But you can't reasonably risk your job for anybody else's.
  6. PopeDirkBenedict

    PopeDirkBenedict Active Member

    Re: Blogs & Serious Journalism

    Exactly. Unless the news is earth-shattering (coach getting fired, school being placed on probation, etc.), a writer should understand that what the SID did was a courtesy and not burn him.

    EDIT: If I was the SID, I would tell that writer to place his head in an unnatural place and tell him that if he wants a heads-up from now on, he can get it by watching the local television station.
  7. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    Hmmm ... was this at Florida, by chance?
  8. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    It doesn't have to be a blog.  Most papers do instant updates these days so unless you issue an embargo, expect to see it up really fast.  Really fast.   No beat writer worth his salt is going to sit around and say, yeah, sure, and wait to get a story with everyone else.   If he accepts it with an embargo, he's ethically bound to honor that. If not, up it goes.  NOW.

    The coach I cover most is very media savvy.  He called me once to see how long it would take to get something on our site. I told him it would be up 10 minutes after we got off the phone.  A local kid had been in some trouble and was about to get booted and he wanted me to know because I'd followed his travails pretty closely.  He wanted to know how long he had to tell the kid he was toast.  He said he'd call me within the hour.  He did, I got it posted while he was telling the kid so he didn't have to find out on our Web site and we still got it earlier than the "official" release.

    Most coaches, I suspect, don't have that much of a clue.

    SID at a school I cover got in trouble when we broke something earlier this year.  The school just KNEW he had to be the leak.  He wasn't, not even close.   I wouldn't want to be an SID in the Internet age.
  9. Just_An_SID

    Just_An_SID Well-Known Member

    When I give a heads up, it is under the assumption that the writer is going to embargo it until the story is released.

    I don't blame the AD for being mad. I wouldn't have assumed that the writer would rush to his computer and post a blog so I'd be mad if this happened to me.

    Personally, I think the writer was out of line and I would NEVER give him a heads up again.
  10. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Never assume. It ain't just a newspaper anymore.

    The SID I deal with most has given me a heads up or two, sometimes with no strings attached and sometimes with a "wait until xx" to post it.

    So give heads ups (heads ups?) to the folks you trust but don't forget the 'net portion of the game.

    Never assume.

    I'm stunned at how many times over the course of my career people have "assumed" something was off the record. Did we say it was? Uh, no. Well, then. IT WASN'T.
  11. sportsed

    sportsed Guest

    I don't need to tell you or most of the other people on the board this, but that seems to be one of the great chasms in our business. You can be talking to a coach or player kind of buddy-buddy and write something and he or she will be disappointed it was printed because he or she thought it was off the record. Nope.
  12. HoopsMcCann

    HoopsMcCann Active Member

    i don't think so...
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