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Dealing with difficult people

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Fourth and 8, Apr 23, 2008.

  1. Fourth and 8

    Fourth and 8 Member

    Maybe I can start this as an ongoing thread. Every day, new person, new topic. If it dies, that's fine too.

    But here's mine: We have a coach of two sports at probably the No. 3 high school in our area in terms of focus. He has had the attitude in one sport that if the paper want us, come get us. He seldom returns calls on anything and never calls in results. Oh wait, one day, he emailed them the next day and hence they were two days late getting published.

    What we try to do, particularly in seasons of multi sports, is get everyone covered a couple of times and eventually drift to the top teams in each sport for the stretch run and playoffs. I'll get regular bitching from the parents on his teams and for two years, I got two of the boosters to call in the results for a game summary. That way when they played a key game, we could know about it and staff it.

    The reliable boosters graduated their kids last year and now, we had two that sent stuff in twice and got pissed because we didn't take five or six highlights and make a 12 inch story out of it. I don't dare deal with letting these people write their own shit (some have offered) because they expect or demand it to be printed in full. I found out only through the state office that they are in the playoffs in girls soccer starting next week. We'll cover that, but it's like we're suddenly on the scene with them. I don't like that. It's inconsistent coverage.

    I've spoken to the athletic director who is ambivalent about it. I only wish everyone was like the 2A country school whose superintendent tells his coaches that it's their responsibility as promoters and ambassadors of the school system to work with the media. What have you people done with similar difficult people?
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Don't worry about being inconsistent. If they have a game that you should cover -- they are playing one of your key team or are in the playoffs or playing a ranked team or whatever, cover them.

    Rules are different in the playoffs so you should not feel awkward about showing up.

    Other than that, send emails, letters, etc. to the coaches, AD and PRINCIPAL at the beginning of the season letting them know how to call in scores.

    First time they don't call the coach and remind him. If a parent calls, direct the parent to the coach. Don't accept half-assed results or a writeup from anyone. If the coach wants to designate someone as official scorekeeper, take their stats and write your own story.

    If they still don't get you the results and no one complains, ignore them. If people complain, go to the principal.
  3. Refer the angry parents to the AD and principal. The coach works for them, so let them know he's falling down on the job. And if the coach doesn't understand that this is part of his job, they'll educate him, if only to make the phone calls stop.

    Of course, it helps if the AD has enough balls to do his job. Back in the day, we had an AD at one of our top 2 high schools who at the start of the school year invited our preps editor to a meeting of all of his coaches, boys and girls. The prep ed. gave out our 800 number (before the days of cell phones), our deadlines, and what exactly we needed (final score, summary, etc).

    When he was done, the AD looked at his coaches and asked, "Any questions?" Silence. "Good. Make sure this gets done." And it did. Because it was clear from the AD that he wouldn't tolerate an uncooperative. God, I miss AD's who actually run a dept.
  4. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Call the coach of the opposing school if you aren't getting game results.
  5. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    You are obviously doing the best you can. And that's all you can do. It probably pisses you off when parents get mad, but you are doing your job. So don't worry about it.
  6. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

  7. Yawn

    Yawn New Member

    I've heard people say that athletic directors sometimes don't give a shit whether their coaches cooperate or not.

    Case in point: Close friend said they used to have post-season lunches for ADs and coaches, to thank them for their cooperation and to look ahead and trouble-shoot for the following year. About 12 ADs would show up for the free lunch and you would never hear from that school the following year. Bastards just showed up to eat free.
  8. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    We had the coach of our town's girls soccer team call in tonight, but he refused to give the final score, saying instead that he wanted us to report who scored his team's only goal and call it a day.

    We told him we couldn't do that, so he just told us to not put anything. Essentially, he was willing to keep his player's name out of the paper just to avoid telling us the score. So we called another newspaper and got the score, and it wasn't even that bad, 8-1, I think.

    What a douche.
  9. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Another great moment in local yokeltry . . . a prevalent disease.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2015
  10. Bud_Bundy

    Bud_Bundy Active Member

    We have a coach who goes the other way. If he beats a team too badly, he won't call the result in because he doesn't want to make the other team look bad.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2015
  11. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    I didn't see anyone mention the School Board.

    That is the top of the mountain in a school district. I would place them on the letter list.

    Does anyone use "score not submitted" when knowing the game was played the night before, but not called in? In this era of cell phones and email, there is no excuse not to get a result into the paper.

    I would not waste half of your night trying to run down the score. You are enabling the bad behavior by the home coach by still running the score since he or she did not do their job.

    Do a couple "score not submitted" and see if they all of a sudden start giving you a score.
  12. JakeandElwood

    JakeandElwood Well-Known Member

    I completely agree with that in principle, but I think readers would get pissed. They don't know about staff constraints etc. and little Susie soccer player's mom will likely just think the paper is being lazy and get mad at us, not the coach.
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