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Importance of transparency with media by coaches

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by MNgremlin, Aug 22, 2016.

  1. MNgremlin

    MNgremlin Active Member

    I'm interested to know what people think on the topic.

    In Minnesota, there was a lot of discussion after Thursday's Vikings game about Mike Zimmer's decision to sit Teddy Bridgewater. Zimmer said during and after the game that it was his decision and said it wasn't for disciplinary reasons. Bridgewater said there's nothing to be concerned with health wise. Zimmer was asked about it probably four or five times in a six minute press conference after the game, but beat reporters weren't satisfied with his responses and started complaining after the game about a lack of transparency and one added in a tweet that "it's my job to seek out this info."

    Is it? Last I checked, beat reporters are not investigative journalists. Report the news you get. If a source (the coach, in this case) doesn't want to go into detail about something, is it your job to complain that your source isn't telling you everything?

    Am I off on this? Is it a coach's job to tell the media 100% of the reasoning behind the decisions he makes?
  2. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

  3. Southwinds

    Southwinds Member

    This post reads like a superfan hoping to protect a team's competitive advantage (in a preseason game, nonetheless).

    It is a beat reporter's job to seek out that information. Ideally, the beat reporter will ask the coach and the player, but also the offensive coordinator, the quarterbacks coach, the player's parents, the player's brother, etc. in order to find out what's exactly going on.

    The onus then falls on the reporter to determine how much of that information to use and report. Was the player rested because it's a preseason game? Sounds open and shut. Was the player rested because he started a shouting match that divided the locker room? That's important.

    It's not the coach's job to tell the media the reasons behind each of his decisions, but it's up to the media to find out what those reasons are, if not from him then from someone else.
  4. BurnsWhenIPee

    BurnsWhenIPee Well-Known Member

    Pretty much word for word on this one.

    "Report the news you get"? Sounds like something that would come from the Vikings Are Awesome fan boards.
    reformedhack likes this.
  5. JohnHammond

    JohnHammond Well-Known Member


    If any journalism professor taught you beat writers aren't investigative journalists, give us his or her's name and request a refund from your college. If that's just your own "hot take," start applying for Walmart and Target. Asking a coach a question is not "investigative journalism." You are right it is not the coach's job to tell you why he/she made a particular decision, or tell you anything, for that matter. But if that's journalism in your book, you'll be stuck in the sticks.
    HanSenSE and reformedhack like this.
  6. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    For the most part, yes, you are off on this.

    It's not the coach's job to share every detail, but a good reporter does his/her due diligence — ask, pursue and confirm as many sources as necessary to get the information. A beat writer is far and away an investigative reporter ... or, at least, should be.

    However, there's one part where you're correct: My skin crawls when a reporter says "it's my job to seek out this information." Most of the time, you can see sanctimony dripping off the words, as if (A) the job is a magically endowed Position of Major Societal Responsibility and (B) they're going to get support from readers who largely love/adore/fellate the team.

    "It's my job" is about two clicks away from "Maybe you don't know who I am."

    Just do your job without talking about your job.
  7. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I don't think a beat writer should "complain" that a coach won't publicly give more detail about why a starting player is not playing. I think most of us are pretty much conditioned that coaches aren't going to open their hearts or be hooked up to a lie detector when being interviewed.

    I think you print what the coach says. Make it clear other questions were asked that the coach did not want to answer and then you go about trying to get more info.
    Tweener and reformedhack like this.
  8. TyWebb

    TyWebb Well-Known Member

    Reporters shouldn't be butthurt about not getting the full story, or "transparency," from head coaches. That's as much a part of the business as denying deserving kids of scholarships.

    But the job should never just stop there. You are not a PR wing for the team, there to print what they tell you to print.
  9. MNgremlin

    MNgremlin Active Member

    This is the point I was really trying to make with this post. I don't care if a reporter pursues another source later on about the issue, but don't keep badgering a coach in an interview if he doesn't want to go into more detail and please stop whining on Twitter that a coach won't tell you everything. To me, that's a bad look and not what our job is about.
  10. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Well-Known Member

    Speechless. I guess I've been doing my job wrong the last 23 years.
    JordanA and TexasVet like this.
  11. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    Yeah, you have to include the official spin as presented, but if it doesn't pass the smell test to you, you're not done as a beat reporter. Do anything you can (legally) to unearth the truth and present it. You want to get to the point where you're confident your research holds up and you want the team to get to the point where it has to address what you've found.

    Following that, obviously, you have to consider how valuable breaking that news is and gauge how many bridges you need to burn doing so.

    You are correct, however, there's a time and a place for those questions and repeatedly asking the same question at a presser without a smoking gun probably isn't going to win over your peers or the coach.
  12. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Good object lesson on how a beat reporter digs unfolding over the last few days with the work of the SF Chronicle's Susan Slusser on a clubhouse fight involving the Oakland A's. She's on teh Twitterez and also at sfgate.com.
    BurnsWhenIPee likes this.
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