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Did I do the right thing?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by farmerjerome, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    Okay, a little background. Home team beat rival team for the first time in school history (over 30 years) last night. Huge story.
    The only problem was, rival team was missing three players (starters) due to illness and injury.

    Dr. J was giving me tons of shit for leaving this out of my story. I didn't want to look like a homer, but I did have some reasons for leaving it out:

    1. Home team played the best "D" that I've ever witnessed a team play in this particular sport. I'm not convinced that the three players would have made a huge impact, and several other players on the field were all-state players.
    The rival team has won 14 state championships in 25 years. When you build a program like that obviously there are other players more than capable of stepping up.

    2. Rival team played the worst I have ever seen them play. The home team took them completely out of an offense that they have been known for over the past 30 years. Every part of their game (not just the positions that they were missing players in) flat-out sucked.

    3. Several competitors mentioned the injuries in passing, but those who were at the game didn't. Even the losing coach (politely) asked that I not mention it in the story -- partially because he didn't want take away from home team's win and because he has a lot of respect for the opposing coach. The players and assistant coaches from rival team didn't bring it up either. They pretty much knew they got beat.

    4. Honestly, home team was going to beat rival team eventually and there was a part of me that didn't want to make excuses for the win, especially if the coach wasn't.

    In hindsight I probably should have mentioned it somewhere, but I really didn't feel it was a defining reason for the win. Did I commit a journalistic sin by leaving it out?

    BTW, I probably caught pneumonia from this game. So anyone who says I'm a crappy writer is going to be on my shit list. ;D
  2. bob

    bob Member

    Did I commit a journalistic sin by leaving it out?

  3. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Doesn't have to be defining reason for the result. Doesn't have to be the focus of the story.
    Must be mentioned, however, that three starters were missing.
  4. OTD

    OTD Active Member

    First--stop posting and get to bed. Take care of yourself!

    Second--yeah, you should've mentioned it. Probably not in the lede, but it was significant. It's not your job to "take away" from the team's victory, it's your job to report the pertinent facts, and three starters missing is pertinent.
  5. jfs1000

    jfs1000 Member

    Ouch. Three starters? And no mention?

    I would have put it in the lede. If they weren't any good, they wouldn't be starting. Missed the story my friend.

    Pet peeve of mine. Best defense you have ever seen? Just a little hyperbole, don't ya think? Stick with the facts. First win in 30 years --fact. One team was minus 3 key players -- fact.

    I hoped you asked the coaches the question how much having those players out affected the shocking upset.

    Missed the story bro, it happens. Move on and learn.
  6. fremont

    fremont Member

    "Tony Retardo had a team-high 20 points for Halfwit High, which had its point guard and two of the district's top scorers out of the game due to injury."
  7. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    FYI, I didn't write that it was the best defense I'd ever seen. I did interview a defender and the goalie though.

    Now I'm starting to feel guilty. Then again, when I think about it wasn't that huge of an upset though it was a huge story in general. Even before this game the general thought was that this could be the year that home team knocks off rival team.

    But I should of mentioned it. When the rematch comes around it will be in the story if I cover it.

    I'm going to slink away in shame now.
  8. fremont

    fremont Member

    Don't sweat it. We've all done something like that before, at some point. Shit happens. Writers who truly suck are the ones that don't question and second-guess your own work like you've done here. You posted this because you wanted to get better.
  9. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member


    I went to pick up a paper to bill fo the story this morning and the place I went to only had one copy left. This was just over an hour after press run.

    All in all, it's a mistake I'll have to live with as a journalist but not much else. At the very least the community will be happy with the coverage, especially since we've been getting lots of complaints about the lack of coverage for this particular team ( ::)). I'm covering the team again on Friday, so it will be interesting to see the reaction from the fans and parents.

    The funny thing is, I thought I was sort of a homer until a couple years ago. Lately I've been ripping teams apart and almost crossing the line the other way. In fact, I recently covered the same team and tore them apart because they played their worst game of the season. One of the parents actually came up to me last night and said that the team should publish an apology to the fans for playing so horrible.

    Bottom line, this is a good lesson to learn for young journalists. It is very easy to get caught up in small-town sports drama. Especially when you've covered a team for a long time. If the rival team was in our coverage area it probably would have made it into the story. But I doubt I'll lose much sleep over it. There is a part of me that knows that my story will be in hung in offices and put in scrapbooks and I feel good about it. I guess that's the way it is in small towns.
  10. Lester Bangs

    Lester Bangs Active Member

    Could have addressed it with a quote and let it be at that ... even from the losing coach, who sounds like he might have said something like, "I don't want to hear any excuses about our injuries ... we just got our asses kicked."

    Playing something down is just as bad as trumping something up, but we've all been there before.
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    Rule of thumb: If people are asking you to leave something out, it's a pretty good clue that it's something you should put in the story.

    I would have employed fremont's formula.

    On the other hand, don't beat yourself up over it. No one is going to give you grief over it other than us, I dare say.
  12. fremont

    fremont Member

    1. Some people indeed go absolutely apeshit over a misspelled name. Sometimes it'll even go in the paper how it was in the scorebook because I'm not going to know any better otherwise. Sometimes it's legitimately my mistake. And they'll go "MY KID HAD HIS NAME MISSPELLED! HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF YOUR NAME WAS MISSPELLED IN THE PAPER?" I love sticking to stringing now, because I'm not in the newsroom to field these sort of calls...but yeah, even some of the papers I string for stick two "E"s in my last name for whatever reason....I don't go calling up there raising hell either.

    2. Your perceptions of "homerism" might be just that. Don't try to overcompensate one way or the other. Just write it the way it happens. If the home team stinks up the field, that's that. You don't have to say "they sucked." "Palookaville High committed five errors in the third inning, in which visiting Turdblossom College Prep batted around three times and scored 18 runs." Let the facts and events speak for themselves. Got a coach or a parent complaining? "Teach your kids how to field a grounder and I'll never have to write about them making errors."

    3. If you care about what you're doing, you're going to get caught to some degree in the drama and everything. It's hard not to. At one point I was covering five schools, four of which were district rivals and hated each other. People sometimes said this or that, but I believed in what I did and I didn't belive I was a "homer" or a "hater." And you just need to believe in what you do, and keep getting better. No matter how long you've been doing it.
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