1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

How do I respond nicely to this parent?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Cadet, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    I know you, so the question must be asked: Who taunted -- you or her?
  2. Milo Bloom

    Milo Bloom New Member

    I love these stories... So here's another one.

    We have an idyllic place where two high schools reside in one town (bonus points for anybody who can correctly guess where in this great nation).

    The north end of town is beautiful. The houses are nice with large, manicured lawns and gardens. You can see inside their living rooms giant HDTVs gracing the walls. The streets are clean, the trees are vibrant green. The birds sing showtunes. The upper-middle class live here in peace. They all moved into this section because it's relatively cheap compared to the ritzier parts of the county.

    Then there's the south end. Commercial zones and four-lane highways have invaded this once peaceful land. What residential zones remain are crammed with houses, with ugly crenelated fences surrounding the patches of dirt they sit upon. The closer you get to the city line, the worse it gets until you have tenement concrete slabs with busted doors, laundry lines spanning the gaps between them. The lower-middle to bust-my-ass-to-make-ends-meet-in-daily-dead-end-jobs class live here. They moved here because it was the only place they could afford to pay rent without living in a city sewer.

    Naturally, the demographic perception between north and south is thus: North = white. South = black and latin--even though the hard numbers prove an even split of race. The two ends of town bicker about who gets what and--more importantly--why from the city. Racism is a common word, but often disguises itself in economic rhetoric when the North Enders try to explain why they don't want their kids to be bussed to the south end school.

    Now, try to actually cover the high schools' sports teams without getting charged with (take your pick) elitism, favoritism, or racism.

    People on both sides count story lengths, they count stories, they count names, they examine notebook items, they measure the photos. And, finally, some take out their magic "read-between-the-lines-O-meter" and run it over the story to determine on which side the reporter's bias lies.

    We once got a nasty letter from a South end CHEERLEADER on a story I wrote. She was disgusted onhow we continue to favor the north end folks by writing that the South End fans booed the North End cheerleaders during a pretty competitive basketball game between the two schools in the South End gym (I was describing the how hostile atmosphere was for the visiting North End team, which won the game).

    "It was just as bad when we played at the North End's gym." the 15-year old wrote (I guarantee a coach or parent was sitting over her shoulder on that one). "Why didn't you come to that game?"

    Finally, during football season parents of the south end town accused us of favoritism because the north end football team was getting all the press. Some mother absolutely killed me in an email, hinting at racism, because we didn't cover their upset win. (Why? because they were 2-1 at the time and the north tend town was 3-0, playing another 3-0 team in a big game, and we only had one reporter. A command decision had to be made). Then she said she saw the huge feature we did on the North End quarterback, and their game got no mention. (Of course, she neglected to mention how we did a big story on the South End future D-1 tailback early in the season).

    Anyway, I blew up with a response that basically started like this: "You know what? I am sick of hearing that we favor one side over the other..." and then listed all her inaccuracies in accusing us of playing favorites. These people, I reasoned, need a strong kick in the ass or they'll continue to think like this. It wasn't an ALL CAPS email, I never swore... it was just direct and strongly worded.

    Well, of course, the next thing I know, the ASE gets called, the SE gets called, the ME gets called, the EIC... the Pub... and I get called into a meeting.

    I'll tell you, after that I sure learned the folly of my ways and an important lesson. It is this: Parents suck, they only see what they want to see, and you're not changing their mind. So you just kill them with kindness over the phone and through email to explain your point and policies. "We're sorry, Mrs. Jones..."

    ...and then, when they think they've put you in your place, you blast them and their conspiracy theories to hell with a well-written column. :)

    You'll never win the battle against parental stupidity, but it's sure fun to let the rest of the county and state know what kind of people and convoluted opinions are out there. Damn fun. God bless columns.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page