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ethical?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by albert77, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. albert77

    albert77 Well-Known Member

    I want to put something for this board to discuss concerning something that happened on another board I frequent. This is a website that is primarily for high school sports fans in the state, although they do have forums for college and pro sports and some other non-sports related subjects.

    About a month ago, someone claiming to be a reporter from another state started a thread seeking information on the background of a high school coach who had been fired from Mississippi and moved to his area to take a job. The "reporter" claimed he'd interviewed the coach and believed there were some discrepancies on his resume, and was researching his past stops for an expose into the coach's history. The guy had coached in my area, so I shared a little bit of what I knew about the guy, which wasn't much.

    Recently, he posted an update saying that the coach had been fired the day the season ended, and put up a link to an article on the coach's firing. Now, here's the kicker. When some of the other posters asked the guy about his big expose, his response was, "oh, I forwarded all of my information to the school administration, and since he was fired, there was no need for us to write the story." He went on to talk about how his goal was to, "protect the school children," of his county as his motivation for collecting this information and sending it on to the school.

    I'm thinking to myself, WTF?

    Now, my question is thus: exactly how unethical is this? Does this even sound like something any reporter would do?

    My gut feeling is the guy wasn't a reporter at all, but simply masqueraded as one to solicit information. Thoughts?
     
  2. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    This. No editor - I sincerely hope - would have a guy go through that trouble just to do dirty work for a school.

    I hope. I can't stress that enough. But I doubt it would be worth anyone's time to go through all of that, and if there was some salacious material there, it's certainly a story.
     
  3. Sounds like a parent with an axe to grind.
     
  4. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    I doubt it was a real reporter.
    But if it was, ground for firing? I'd think so.
     
  5. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    I'm thinking the "reporter" found some stuff on the coach, but his editor(s) decided there wasn't enough there to publish, so instead of seeing all that effort go to waste, went to the school in his self-appointed role as guardian of the students ... if that's so, let's hope they're hiring crossing guards, since he doesn't work at the paper I've been associated with anymore.
     
  6. Flying Headbutt

    Flying Headbutt Moderator Staff Member

    No fucking way that guy was a reporter.
     
  7. What he said.


    A reporter should ID himself in that situation as well.
     
  8. Definitely not a reporter. And if it was substantial enough to get the guy fired, I can't imagine it not being substantial enough for a story, or at least further interest. And "He got fired, so there's no need for the story anymore" doesn't make any sense, either. A coach being fired for lying (or whatever) sure sounds like a story to me (although there's a big ethical can of worms there, too, since the firing would be tied up with the reporter's own dodgy activities in pursuit of the story).

    So the choices for interpreting this are to accept a whole big convoluted set of criteria whereby the guy could still theoretically be a reporter, or go the simpler route of assuming he's a parent (or whoever). Occam's razor.
     
  9. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I am with the majority here but I will go one further -- I can't imagine trolling for damaging information on a coach on a message board.

    Perhaps I might post something with my name, email and phone number and say that this guy was hired here and we were looking for information on him and his time in that state if anyone wanted to call.
     
  10. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    Pretty Machiavellian, whether the guy was a reporter or not. I'm like most here and leaning toward not. Albert, if I were you I'd tread lightly here.
     
  11. albert77

    albert77 Well-Known Member

    Oh, I didn't give the guy anything bad, just related my experiences, and I did it in a PM. I didn't have anything bad to say about the coach, and I wouldn't have even if I did.
     
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