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Is this letter out of line?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by MTM, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. MTM

    MTM Well-Known Member

    The following letter appeared on the opinion page of The (Riverside, CA) Press-Enterprise on Sunday morning.
    The school the writer is referring is the top football program in the region, steamrolling its way to another undefeated season before being upset in the State 1A championship game.
    In the same edition of the paper, the school had seven players named to the 27-player all area team.
    I think this guy is way out of line and being a big whiner. What say you?

    Photos shame losing team

    I applaud your extensive coverage of high school football, but I was appalled at your choice of photos following Centennial's upset by Palo Alto in the state championship game ("Title slips away," Dec 18).

    I realize you were attempting to capture the facts and emotions associated with the game; however, I do not understand why you chose pictures depicting these young men's most devastating moments! Several pictures, including two on the front page, show Centennial players making mistakes.

    It seems that you have lost the fact that these are amateur athletes. They are merely teenagers who must live with this public humiliation for the rest of their lives. There should be a distinction between how the media treats professionals and high school athletes.

    Despite Centennial's tremendous success, its final moments are immortalized in print as negative.

    You are our local paper and whether or not one was rooting for Centennial, we should all be rooting for kids. That should not include shining such a bright light on them when they stumble.

    Steve Mitchell

    Former Santiago

    Head football coach


    National Football Foundation

    Riverside Chapter

  2. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    Did he send the same letter to Fox Sports for putting the game on TV and replaying it for two weeks afterward?
    The media, be it newspaper, TV, radio or Internet, has no other responsibility than reporting the news. The news of this game was Centennial lost a state championship football game that was televised and had a tremendous amount of media attention.
    The Centennial football players were treated like stars for the entire football season. They finally got outplayed.
    The writer of the letter is a big whiner who can't separate his emotions from the facts of the game.
    It was a great game played in one of the worst conditions. The Palo Alto kids adapted to those conditions better than the Centennial kids.
    The letter writer would rather blame the media for making the Centennial players look bad than realize the only ones who made Centennial look bad was Centennial.
  3. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Whining,. STFU, coach.
    If you cover them when they win, you cover them when they lose -- warts and all.
  4. Turtle Wexler

    Turtle Wexler Member

    Having not seen the photos in question, were the mistakes shown in the front page images obvious (like a pass being dropped) or were they mistakes only a coach would notice (like a missed route)? I think that would say a lot about this former coach's mindset here.
  5. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

  6. CentralIllinoisan

    CentralIllinoisan Active Member

    Does your newspaper cover both schools, or just the losing one? If you cover both schools and chose to spotlight primarily the losing school as opposed to the winning one, I would take issue. If you cover just the losing school, you likely are dealing with an over-sensitive parent.

    I have no issue with pictures of mistakes by high school athletes, assuming the specific mistakes depicted in the photos played a major role in the loss or were representative of the compiled mistakes made that day; simply, did they enchance the story or were they gratuitous?

    When a situation rides the line, it's really a feel thing. Case by case.
  7. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    WFW. You almost want to grab people who complain about "negative coverage" like this by the scruff of their necks and say, "my paycheck says Podunk Shopping News, not Podunk High cheer squad." There are measurable amounts of people out there who don't get that. Just because the fans bleed Podunk High's colors when they lose, they thing you should too.
  8. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    It's a freaking championship game. They can deal with it. Life isn't always peaches and roses.
  9. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    Just my $.02, but it seems as if the letter-writer is not a partisan but rather a fan of h.s. football in general. If so, I think it might be reasonable to move this one from the "whining" folder into the "worth thinking about" folder. I think he's wrong in saying that it is journalism's obligation to be "rooting for kids," but he might be right -- I haven't seen the pictures -- regarding the play of the story/photos. If you just dismiss the criticism, however, you might miss out on a chance to do it better next time around.
  10. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    One of the first games I ever covered at my first gig was a state championship baseball game. It went into extras and it ended when the third baseman booted a routine grounder and a player was able to score from first. The final score 1-0.

    The kid who made the error was by far the best player in the state and I interviewed him while his parents stood next to him and he completely owned it and took the blame and apologized for the mistake and basically, handled it like a champ.

    I led with the error. I don't know that I've ever been shredded more for a story. The people from the winning team said I cheapened their win. The people from the losing team were outraged that I "blamed" the third baseman for the loss.

    My lede was something like "John Smith had already made the play six times. The All-America third baseman from East High School would step forward scoop up the ball and throw out the runner at first base. But the seventh time didn't prove to be lucky.
    "I booted it," Smith said. "I can't believe it, but I booted it. We lost the state title because I couldn't make a play that I've made hundreds of times."

    This was before everyone had the Internet, but I probably got 50 phone calls that next day.

    Later in the day, I called the kid and his parents to apologize. They both said, "For what? They're mad about the loss and it's easier to take it out on you."
  11. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I would love to see a picture displaying a missed route. If a photographer can pull that off -- we've got a photo of the year.
  12. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    Short answer: The guy can write whatever the hell he wants. Any letter to the editor is a sign that people are reading. That said, I wouldn't put much credence in it. Our job isn't to make the team look good. Conversely, it isn't to make the team look bad. It's to report what happened truthfully. If the truth includes someone screwing the pooch, so be it.
    We had a problem like this in a baseball game. Playoff game, team's ace is on the mound. He throws a gem. Winning run comes in when a freshman outfielder loses a pop-up. Our shooter got a picture of the kid dropping the ball. From my perspective, we had to run it. The coach wasn't happy about it, but even he conceded that it told the story of the game.
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