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How should I handle this?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Kool-Aid Man, Mar 21, 2008.

  1. Kool-Aid Man

    Kool-Aid Man New Member

    Dear SportsJournalists.com,

    Bit of an ethical dilemma here.
    We're a three-man department (me, the SE and one other writer). Guy comes in today and says our other writer misquoted his son in a story. It was a story about a juco baseball player's future prospects. Player was quoted as saying he's had a couple offers from small schools, but was holding out in hopes of getting something bigger. The player's dad wasn't ranting or raving, just upset because he felt like it was slamming the schools that had offered his son a scholarship. Dad says the player told him he never said anything like that.
    Now, normally I write these types of things off as parents wishing their kids hadn't said something stupid. Except that in this case, I believe the parent.
    Over the past few weeks, several other people from various teams around town have told me this guy has twisted their quotes in his stories. Again, nothing inflammatory, just changing some of the words around that it tweaks it ever so slightly. And if you read the guy's writing, you can see it. A lot of the quotes in his stories use language he often uses in other parts of his writing. I've noticed that for quite some time, but haven't mentioned it. I've been hoping either the SE would pick up on it and say something to him, or he'd actually screw something up with a person who would raise a stink about it, and get him to straighten up.
    He's gotten called out for it once or twice, but has been able to talk his way out of it.

    Now, I'm not sure this writer is flat-out making stuff up. I know he's out there covering games, interviewing people and doing stories. The guy works hard. More than likely he's just hearing stuff wrong, or incompletely, and filling in the blanks with what he thinks sounds good -- except for the fact that what he fills in isn't how these people talk.
    This is starting to bug me, because eventually he will royally screw up with the wrong person and it'll reflect badly on all of us. I'm afraid it's already starting to.
    Should I say something to the SE? Or just keep waiting to see if he falls on his face? He's been here a few years now, so I'm not sure how long the latter might take. I want to say something, but as a peer and not a supervisor, I'm not sure it's really my place to.


    Troubled in Paradise
  2. Mention it to the SE and then keep quiet. The SE can't do his job if he doesn't have all the information.
  3. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    Just take it to the SE. It's his or her job to deal with the writer, not yours.
  4. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    If you're the one hearing most of the complaints, bring it up (and there better be at least two or three complaints to do so). Best-case scenario is that the SE will say, "Hey, you know what? I was thinking the same thing," and he'll have a sit-down and all will be well. Worst-case scenario is something you seem to have already picked up on - something will make the paper look bad and the other guy has to buy a tape recorder and headphones.
  5. SCEditor

    SCEditor Active Member

    Agree with the two other posters. Let the SE know. If nothing happens, I'd consider e-mailing the next person up, but not before you give the SE the chance to handle it. If the SE does nothing, you should inform his boss about the issue. Will the SE be pissed about that? I don't know, but doing the right thing sometimes isn't easy. But first ... give the SE a chance to fix the problem.
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