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Interview with Jody Murphy

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Kevin Morales, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. Kevin Morales

    Kevin Morales Member

    While reading the Jody Murphy interview with Sports Media Guide, I was surprised at the part where he omitted the name of the girl who missed the three free throws at the end of the game...

    I understand why this was done, but I'm not sure I agree. I work at a community paper right now and I would have used her name, regardless if it would have made a few people mad. We're supposed to report on what happened, right? I know covering preps is different from college/pros, but I'm curious how others would have handled the situation.
  2. ltrain1127

    ltrain1127 Member

    Having worked most of my life in small papers, I have tended to leave names out.
    The couple times I have put the name in because it would have been unwieldy to write around the game-deciding miscue, one kid's father called and thanked me for not leaving his son's name out. I was stunned.
    The other was an error that a team lost the game but still had an error to lose the game. I used the kid's name and the coach (also my editor) wasn't too happy, but understood why I did what I did.
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    If it's a high school game and you are describing how a run scored I am fine with just saying so-and-so reached on an error.

    However, if it's the pivotal last play or the kid on the line shooting free throws, I would use names.
  4. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    As an intern, I was covering a baseball game where a kid "Bucknered" a grounder that cost his team the championship. The kids were 15-16 and my lead was something to the effect of "Northside's chances at another championship went rolling through player X's legs..."

    Man, did I get reamed the next day. This was before email was widely used, but I got reamed by phone and by letter. They said it was the second biggest response they'd ever gotten from a "prep level" event.

    I covered the banquet a few nights later and I apologized to the parents of the kid and they were both 100 percent fine with it. The kid was fine with it. The coach was fine with it. But, parents who barely knew the kid wanted me killed...

    Gotta love prep parents...
  5. redsox99

    redsox99 Member

    Ask yourself this ... would you use the name if she makes the free throws? Can't have one without the other. When kids step on the field or court and people pay to see them play, their successes and failures are to be reported. Period. And it's not like it's a big secret. Everyone at the game knows what happened and to leave that out of the story damages the credibility of the report. Just my .02 and I've covered preps for more than 25 years and I have sons who've had their sports successes and failures documented. If it's a fair report, there should be no problem.
  6. DGRollins

    DGRollins Member

    I think how you answer this depends on how ingrained you are in the community that you are covering. If you are someone in their early career looking to move up to the next big stop, then there is no question. You do what you do--you report it. It's what would/should happen at a metro.

    It's not the wrong way to handle it. It happened. As long as you report it accurately, you shouldn't care if it hurts someone's feelings.

    However, if you are someone that has settled into a long-term job in a small community. If you play softball with the girl's father, have your taxes done by her mother and have covered the coach and team since 1983 then you might think differently. You might want to be a bit more compassionate in your coverage. It's a cost/benefit thing, really. Is the benefit of a really good anecdotal lead enough to make up for the cost of potentially pissing off half the people standing in line with you at the DMV?

    Personally, I'd report it. I might keep it out of the lead, and I wouldn't go out of my way to be cruel, but I think you have to say how the team lost. But, I'm not going to judge the guy that plays it the other way.
  7. Appgrad05

    Appgrad05 Active Member

    My first experience with this was a baseball game, where the shortstop's three errors lead to five unearned runs. Of course, his team loses 5-4. I use the kid's name, something along the lines of "Podunk High shortstop Johnny Bumblefuck's three errors proved to be the difference in a 5-4 loss."
    Next day, get a phone call. Not his dad, or his mom, or him. A "concerned individual." Says it was the worst thing he has ever read and that if Derek Jeter made three errors in a game, the New York papers wouldn't have handled it like that. Probably didn't endear myself when I said "You're right Sir, it would have been the sports cover, the focus of the 20-inch gamer and the columnist would have asked what is wrong with him."
    Eventually his mother got involved, writing that we were causing him to think about quitting. My peer e-mailed her back, telling her that he didn't start playing baseball because of us and shouldn't stop because of us.
  8. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    If you can't handle seeing your name in the paper, get off the field (or court).
  9. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    I think you can use the name, and still be sensitive about it. You can give the information without making fun of the kid.
  10. jfs1000

    jfs1000 Member

    This is a tough one for Jody. I wonder if that it was a girl who missed and is crying influenced his decision? And, let's not be PC about it, it would probably influence mine.

    OTH, Girl had to make one free throw, and missed three? Got to put her name in.

    Leading with her missing the free throws could be a great story. Nothing reads better than victory falling through someones grasp.

    But, that would be cruel. I think you write a season wrap up style of gamer and bury the missed free throws. Not great journalistic work, but in the end it really isn't worth it to you, the reader, or your community.

    You can tell the facts, just lose the drama. Ruins the story, but probably best in the long run.

    We do have to remember we are dealing with kids. For 99 percent of these kids this is their only chance ever in the limelight on an athletic stage. I just am uncomfortable defining their athletic existence to one play.

    Come on, I still am distraught about the Webber-like timeout I called in a middle school playoff game that cost us the game.
  11. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    This is exactly how I feel. To not use the name is bullshit. The girl missed the free throws. It sucks. But that's life. What you don't do is try to be clever and mock the kid. Be respectful, but be honest about what happened. And yes, I've covered plenty of preps in my day. And been screamed at my fair share. You still have to do your job.
  12. Bearcat Wright

    Bearcat Wright New Member

    This topic came up in my first job interview, a long time ago. My take now (and then) is that in some instances you have a star quarterback who throws TD passes all year and gets all the glory and ink that goes with it. So naturally you report it when he throws a few picks. But maybe - maybe - if it's the O-lineman and he jumps offsides and the only time his name is going to be in the paper all year is for this indiscretion, you write around it. (You should be getting those O-linemen in the paper once in a while, though).
    Anyway, in this instance, the girl missed three free throws at the end of the game, costing her team the game. I agree with most of the posters who said use her name, but don't magnify it and certainly don't mock her or make light of her. A hard lesson i learned my first year on preps was never to make light of an athlete or group of athletes for messing up. I'm embarrassed I did it even once.
    With all this said and having read the jody murphy interview, i must say i was impressed with Murphy's dedication to prep sports and his extra effort in spending the time to name an all-decade team and to spend all those years doing all those meat-and-potatoes stories, in addition to the more exciting ones. Seems like the prep world of w. va. is worse off without Jody Murphy.
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