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Fixing a rift with your sources

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by First Inning, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. First Inning

    First Inning Guest

    I'm having a problem with a coach in my area, so I need some advice. He's the football coach of the main school I cover (it's a small weekly) and he dodged my calls for a few weeks before the start of practice after a story I wrote about one of his players who got arrested. Didn't think anything of that but when I went to interview a player after the first practice on Monday, the kid got yanked away from me. I tried to talk to him today, but he wouldn't say specifically what about the story bothered him, just that he wouldn't be letting any players talk to me. With my tab due in a less than two weeks, this puts me in a bad spot. We left off the conversation with him red in the face from yelling at me and pointing a finger in my face. So, where do I go from here?
  2. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    Start with the AD. Then go to the principal. Then go to the super.

    Fuck the coach. His player shouldn't have been arrested if he didn't want it reported.

    Keep working your way up the food chain until you force someone to force him to talk to you.
  3. accguy

    accguy Member

    We don't know the backstory of the arrest. Was it a star player? Was it a serious crime? Is he a juvenile? Etc.

    But here are a few pieces of advice.

    Things to do: Show up. Every day. Keep working. That's all you really can do. If he won't talk to you, then write the stories without him and mention that Coach Jones declined comment to the Weekly Press or wouldn't make players available. Call other coaches in Podunk High's conference and get comments about Podunk's team and the conference race. Act like a professional. Let your boss know what's going on.

    Things NOT to do: Take it personally. Raise your voice. Get in a shouting match. Use profanity.

    Things you could consider: You could go to the athletic director, but then it just looks like your ratting him out. Can work, but I prefer calling him out in print. As you get closer to your deadline, explain to him that you're going to write the stories regardless of whether he makes players available.
  4. accguy

    accguy Member

    One more thing: When you do have a discussion with the coach, ask this question, "Was there anything inaccurate in the story? If so, what was it?"

    If he starts talking about it being negative or it embarrassed the kid or hurt the program ask again, "Was there anything inaccurate? If there was, we want to fix it and will fix it."
  5. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    Or you could do what accguy said.

    Though, if he keeps it up into the season, I would definitely go over the coach's head.
  6. dargan

    dargan Active Member

    Angola's right. Good advice from accguy, too.

    Is the coach also the AD? If so, that just means you can go straight to the principal or superintendent if you can't get anything out of the football coach.
  7. Great advice, but an arrest is an arrest - don't matter if it is for littering or burglary. If the cops make an arrest (of a member of the football team) it is news - maybe a brief - but news.
    If it was a juevy, I'd be curious to know the circumstances and how the paper obtained the kids name. Here, the names of juvenille's are protected.
    I'd like to know more background before offering any advice.
    accguy is spot on.
  8. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Be prepared to keep going up the food chain where every last person will defend the coach and demean you.
    Meanwhile, as someone said, keep showing up, keep working and stay professional.
    Eventually, just go to the coach and say "OK, we have to talk about this and get it settled."
  9. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    10 bucks says the coach cools off. He's seeing if he can bully you. Don't let it get to you.

    Football coaches are used to yelling at their players. Most do it every single day.

    So it's nothing for him to yell at you.

    Just keep doing your job as best you can. Don't even act like you are fazed by it.
  10. First Inning

    First Inning Guest

    To everyone, thanks for the good advice. I've been mulling most of these all night (couldn't sleep), but wasn't sure which way to go. Biggest concern is the tab has a theme and I can't just use a file photo, I need a player for a specific type of photo. I did tell my boss, but now I'm concerned he's going to go straight to the principal. Obviously, I'd like to settle this with the coach because we haven't had any problems my first two years here.
    As for the player in question, not a juvenile. The crime in question is murder. As far as I can tell, the coach is either mad that A) I attempted to call a couple current players after he asked me not to, but neither answered. or B) I did have quotes from a former player and teammate who said the coach told him he'd been worried about the kid in the past and had seen said suspect with a gun before. However, the daily papers had former player quoted too, on top of his prior juvy arrest, and he's made comments to at least one of them.
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    The crime is murder?

    Thanks for holding off on that bombshell, dude.
  12. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    When the coach asked you not to call, what was your response?
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