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Did I make another error in judgement?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Smallpotatoes, Nov 25, 2006.

  1. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    In our pre-Thanksgiving coverage, we typically write feature stories on one or two players in addition to game previews. Usually, it's seniors/captains because it's their last game and all that. In one of my three papers, the school had four players earn all-league. One was the league's offensive player of the year, can run a 4.38 40, holds the school's scoring record and rushed for 1,100 yards despite missing two games with a shoulder injury, so obviously, we were going to write about that kid.
    The other story I wasn't certain which way we were going to go. Talking to the stringer who covers the team, we decided on one of the other all-league players, why, I'm not partiuclarly sure. I think one was just as good as any other. We could have just put the other three names in the hat and drawn one for all I cared. I just trusted my stringer's judgement.
    Sure enough, I received an e-mail from one of the parents of the two kids who was not profiled. He informed me that there were four league all-stars (thanks for telling me something I already know).
    As I've said before, I tend to get into trouble like this when I don't really have any well thought-out reasons for doing what I do. As much as I probably should have profiled all four, there wasn't enough time, considering that I had to do 3-4 other profiles for the other papers I have and cover a state championship soccer game in a week when the deadline was a day earlier than normal. A lack of time, however, is probably a lame excuse, and I suppose I should have done a better job planning and made the time.
    There was nothing about the section that implied that the two kids we profiled were the only all-league players, but is that something a reasonable person might be led to believe?
  2. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    I don't think it is an error in judgment...
    Just because four players are "all league" doesn't mean they have equal news value. Someone, somewhere is "all league" ever year.
    The key is to identify the story. Once the story is identified, you have your retort in advance when the parents of the three other "all league" kids call.
    Does he have one eye? Eats nothing but spinach from poorly irrigated farmland on gamedays? Sister plays the flute in the cemetery at midnight on Fridays? Whatever the hook may be... That is the key.
  3. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    SP, you are always way too hard on yourself.

    It is your job to make a news judgment call. Things like time and other duties factor into those judgment calls. Sometimes the deciding factors are "I just think this would make a better story".

    You are the professional when it comes to your judgment. Someone will always second-guess you, but it is your job to make that call. You are the professional. They are not. They are disgruntled parents.

    Believe me, I know how much it sucks to get those emails/phone calls. But if you don't establish yourself as a professional in your mind, you won't be able to convince the disgruntled parents.
  4. Sometimes, I get calls like that. My response is usually a friendly but firm explanation. "That was a feature on Player A or Team B, not the All-Area or Sport X. Please stay in touch and keep me updated on Your Kid for consideration for future feature stories."

    If I get asked why I chose Player A, I'll say "My personal judgment."
  5. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    To echo what Cadet said, trust your judgment and be prepared to let the always disgruntled parents know that you made the decision what features to write and you think you made the right one based on the information youo had in front of you.
    No make-ups, no excuses, no getting pissed off at the idiot parents, no second-guessing yourself.
  6. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

  7. 2underpar

    2underpar Active Member

    ya can't beat yourself up about every disgruntled parent call because they never stop coming.
  8. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    Thanks, guys.
    Though my EIC says that a lack of time is a lame excuse, I wasn't about to pile more work on a stringer than he could handle and I already had enough on my plate as it was. If people choose to read something into my coverage that isn't there, that isn't (or at least should be) my problem.
  9. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    well, then your EIC is a d-i-c-k, who, i'm sure, is big on unpaid overtime.

    you do what you can with time constraints. and as for me, i'll never run more than one feature a day because you only can lead with one, and the other would get lost in the fray anyway.

    and oh yeah, stop being so hard on yourself. you ask questions, which means you care about your product, which (i'm sure) mean you do the best job you can. what more can anyone ask from you?
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