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Is a correction in order?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Smallpotatoes, Oct 22, 2006.

  1. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    Last week, I wrote a story about a high school golf team. The team, which had won some league titles in the past, struggled this year, but after an 0-8 start managed to win five of its last eight matches. I talked to the coach and two of the players about the turnaround and how much the team improved in the second half of the season.
    As is usually the case, however, you can't please everybody. Today when I came in the office, I saw this e-mail:

    "Mr. Smallpotatoes:
    I am a parent of a graduating member of the (name of school) golf team. I just read your (newspaper) article. My son is not even listed with the graduating seniors in your article. On top of that he is not mentioned at all. He was selected as the (school's only) representative to the league tournament on Tuesday 10/17. He was selected because of his consistently high scores in our tournaments.

    Your article gives the impression he was not even part of the team!!!!

    I am very disappointed. You wrote so little about the team all season. You make up for it with an end of the season article, and you do such a poor job of representing the contributions accurately. I doubt Coach (name of coach), who selected my son to represent (the school) at the tournament, forgot he was on the team. I think it was sloppy, last-minute reporting on your part.

    Name of parent"

    I'm not sure why that kid's name never made it into the paper. Maybe the coach mentioned it, maybe he didn't. It was one of a four or five features I was working on at the time so I don't remember exactly why it turned out the way it did. I didn't see it in my notes as I was writing the story and I'm not sure how much the kid's accomplishments figured into the story since the point of the story was the team coming out of a slump in the second half of the season, not what a bunch of great golfers they were.
    Was it "sloppy last-minute reporting" on my part? Did I leave something essential out of the story?
    How big a screw-up was this on a scale of 1-10?
    Should a correction be run?
  2. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    Depending on space I'd run something. Check with the coach first and make sure the parent's telling the truth, though.
  3. Stupid

    Stupid Member

    Oh dear god hell yes, Good Dr!!

    Given that the player in question ostensibly is the only one to land any type of honors, I think it was an oversight to not include him and probably even more of one if you listed the seniors and omitted him and he is a senior.

    I'd run a little addendum stating that Freddie Fourputt's contributions were inadvertently omitted from the story as is the fact that he's one of the seniors (if that is the case).

    I don't know of how big a screw up it would be but, if the mom's story checks out, it's a good example of how one can write a good story and then discover he or she missed an essential fact that should have been part of the story. You didn't state anything incorrect, you just missed some very important details of which the coach and players didn't inform you.

    In hindsight, you probably should have called that kid's mom before you wrote the story. She would have given you all the details you needed for an accurate piece.
  4. e4

    e4 Member

    what about a follow up story, just a small sidebar on how the kid did at the upcoming tournament? he gets in the paper, mom has a date with the scrapbook...
  5. sartrean

    sartrean Member

    Last minute reporting, huh?

    I'd email that fucker back and tell 'em it's all last minute reporting. And then I'd run a clarification mentioning Johnny Fourputt or whatever his name is and the fact that he was give some kind of golden putter or whatever.
  6. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Tell the mom you'll see her next Tuesday, and ask if she's going to go thru your stories with a fine-tooth comb next fall, when Peter Puttputt fails to even make the club team at Spoiled Shit State.
  7. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    Part of me thinks there's no pleasing some people. The parent missed the point of the story and it's a story that most larger papers would not have published. This is another example of the entitlement mentality that so many of these parents have. The heck with them.
    Another part of me thinks if I wouldn't leave out the name of the leading rusher in a football story, why would I leave out the name of a the top golfer here? Parents of kids in golf, swimming, cross country, etc. have a chip on their shoulder to begin with so any errors or omissions will be perceived as more than the honest mistakes they really are. That makes it all the more important not to make these kinds of mistakes.
  8. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    The other part of you is right here, sp. Write another story -- if this is true -- to fix it. If what the parent said was true, this is no time to get a chip on the shoulder about it.

    P.S. If he was shooting consistently HIGH scores ... that means he sucked, right? ;)
  9. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    The league uses a modified Stableford system (one point for each bogey, two for each par, four for each birdie and six for an eagle or better) so a high score is good in this case.
  10. clutchcargo

    clutchcargo Active Member

    This kid's mom might be a real babe, you never know. Write the obligatory followup article on the kid, and deliver her five copies of the edition. Maybe she'll invite you in for milk and cookies---or you can accept her thanks and bolt.
  11. KP

    KP Active Member

    Positive points for a bogey, sweet!!!!

    Also, his name is Sammy Snapper-Slice.
  12. sartrean

    sartrean Member

    Yeah, they miss the point of stories. I write one about a kid on a farm, gets injured, rehabs, leads Podunk in tackles and every parent from here to Timbuktu emails me to inform me that I omitted their hobbled Johnny, whether he plays now or played yesteryear, or plays Pop Warner at the park, or isn't even a he, but a she and plays volleyball or runs cross country.

    Or, they write to claim that my rag is biased for "creating" news about Johnny Farmboy from Podunk, and ignoring eight other Hometown Highs. It's comments like these that lead me to regularly make a point in my column to say I'm stupid or deserve to be shot. I back it up by stating the names and surname intial of every emailer who agrees.

    I like to write "and for that one 'I deserve to have my flesh eaten away slowly by soldier ants over a period of eight years,' so says Eric R. in an email from Hometown. And apparently I'm a Podunk fan, writes Mary C. from Hometown, who thinks cross country deserves as much print space that football gets. Oh yeah, I'm a complete imbecile for thinking more readers want football coverage and less cross country coverage, and there's just so many compelling stories revolving around a foot race, with all that strategy runners employ."
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