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ethics question

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by 0-fer, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. 0-fer

    0-fer Member

    Don't know if this has been covered. I'm pretty sure it has, but I searched and couldn't find. Kind of a two-part question. If a high school basketball player supposedly gets caught dealing drugs and gets a 10-game suspension on top of whatever disciplinary action the school takes, is that a story? I'm just curious as to how many people would dig and put this kid's mistake in the paper. Second part: how do you go about a story like that? Is there any way to get the truth if the AD, coach and kid refuse comment? Any advice is much appreciated.
  2. Diabeetus

    Diabeetus Active Member

    What role does the kid play on the basketball team? Is he/she a starter or someone who never comes off the bench?

    I'm sure you could look at is as a distraction to the team if nothing else.
  3. earlyentry

    earlyentry Member

    Bud Mackey, a potential Mr. Indiana player and Kelvin Sampson recruit, was caught dealing crack in school. He was a top 100 player in the country, and someone who could probably contribute right away in the Big 10. It was a big story and received lots of coverage.
    It's all about the player. If he's a Division III or his career stops after high school, why bother?
  4. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Well, for starters, was he arrested? Charged? Is there a police report? Is he awaiting trial? Did he hire a lawyer?
  5. 0-fer

    0-fer Member

    Regarding the player, his career will likely end after high school. He's a starter on his team, but not likely to play in college. Regarding the criminal nature of his actions, I've found nothing/ got nothing from the cops or the courts on whether he was arrested, charged, what have you. I guess that kind of changes the equation, but I'm wondering, if this guy's not much of a player or anything, is it worth the time/trouble to dig around. He's not a big-time player, so along the lines of earlyentry's comment, why bother? I don't know. That's kind of what I'm trying to figure out.
  6. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    Base don
    Normally, I would say yes, but based on your responses, no.

    Your news wide might want to follow up, though, if the arrest was in school.
  7. Cansportschick

    Cansportschick Active Member

    0-fer, if it were a star player, and they got caught on school grounds dealing the drugs, then it is a story. Also, if he is a star player who is on a contender or the top ranked school team, then the impact of his loss on the team will of course be a huge story, especially if the team flounders during his suspension.

    However, the problem here is the AD, coach and kid won't comment. The only wat the story would float is if the police confirm it and if students were eyewitnesses to the arrest if it happened on school grounds. Also, if there is a police report, as Double Down suggests that would help. And if the player has retained counsel, then you can get some comments from counsel, since the kid won't talk.

    You need to do some more digging in this case to see what you can get for information and validity and then I guess either make the case to run the story or not. But if it were me, I would make sure I got as much information to confirm it as possible because the last thing you want to do is publish an inaccurate story, which falsely accuses someone. I know a broadcast anchor who got dinged for it and the station had to pay out in total $30,000 for the incident plus lawyer fees for the plaintiffs.
  8. broadway joe

    broadway joe Guest

    If he wasn't arrested or charged with a crime, I wouldn't print it. Just say he was suspended for a violation of team rules, or however the coach chooses to characterize it. If no one will say anything at all, I'd write something like "the player and school officials all declined to comment on the reason for the suspension."
  9. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    Obviously it's a story that the kid is going to be missing for 10 games, you don't just lose a starter like that. How did you get that bit of information, and would the association that imposed it talk?
  10. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    to me, it also depends on the town and the paper. Is this a large paper in a major city? If then, some marginal starter on a high school team really don't make a shit.

    Is this the a smaller paper in a smaller community? Is this school the only game in town, or thereabouts? If so, then it's worth a story if you can get it. If there's no police report on the record, and you can't get anybody to go on the record, then it's going to be tough. But I would encourage you to keep pushing and keep digging.
  11. KYSportsWriter

    KYSportsWriter Well-Known Member

    The thing with mackey is different, I'm guessing, because he is 18 and papers can run his name with no repercussions. Not sure how old the kid in question here is.
  12. dragonfly

    dragonfly Member

    One of our star softball players got busted for the same thing. She got kicked out of school and ended up transferring. She confided in me what happened, so I know it's accurate, but she was fearful of gang repercussion. Basically, she got arrested for being with the wrong person at the wrong time, but they only charged her because she wouldn't roll over on the big fish. She's from a tough part of town, so rolling on the big fish would've been dangerous. And talking about it in a newspaper would've been very dangerous.

    Still, she was the No. 1 softball player in our area, a high profile transfer and just happened to transfer to the best softball program in the area. I was very tempted to write it, or at least some of it.

    But after a lot of thought, I think I said something like she got into some trouble at her old school, didn't like the direction her life was going and needed to get away.

    When it came down to it, she was a 16 year old kid in a minor sport. She told me everythign off-the-record, even though I think I could've gotten her to go on the record if I pushed, but I just thought to myself that the vague way of phrasing it, ``got into some trouble, wrong crowd, made some mistakes'' let the readers know enough of what happened without compromising the kid or her safety.

    I don't know. I still go back and forth over it. But I just thought that it's HS sports and hopefully I'm only covering this for a few years (which has been the case) so I better not be trying to make my name off of breakign a story on a 16-year old softball player who went with the wrong crowd.

    Plus, I genuinely believed her story and could understand why she didn't snitch on the big fish drug dealer. Now, if she'd gotten into more trouble, I'd have no problem running it. But 16 year old kids deserve the benefit of the doubt.
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