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Jake Scott piece

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Columbo, Nov 19, 2006.

  1. SCEditor

    SCEditor Active Member

    I agree. DD I wasn't trying to be an ass. I just disagree with you. I'm sure it's not the first time and won't be the last, and vice versa.
  2. henryhenry

    henryhenry Member

    well-written - but still the mystery - why did scott open up? - hyde should have speculated - hinted - a theory - at 61 is scott finally thinking about his legacy?
  3. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    We were talking about that very thing in the bar last night -- not so much that it should have necessarily been in the story (Jake Scott in this didn't seem like a guy who'd want to discuss legacies) -- but just wondering if that was the reason.
  4. DaveHyde

    DaveHyde New Member

    First of all, thanks for everyone for discussing the story here. A friend at the Sun-Sentinel sent me a link of this and I was surprised by the volume and kind words. Dave Kindred had e-mailed me the same message he wrote here, I see, and to get praise from him makes my head swell a bit.

    The real reason I'm writing, I guess, is to answer some of the questions that keep repeating here about the story and how it was done. The idea isn't to be presumptuous but simply to spell out what I did and, maybe, dispel some of what I didn't. And since we're all writers I guess it's simply to further the conversation of reporting and writing.

    First of all, the idea behind lede was pretty simple and straightforward: What was it like making contact with Jake Scott for the first time that, as far as I know, anyone has in decades. I only put it in the first person, really, because I thought it important that people see and perhaps feel what I did, from not knowing really if he was even at that house, to not knowing if he was the man in the front yard (he wasn't), to seeing him come out the door. I tried to weave some of his reclusive history and tempermental past into all this to show what was going through my mind. And that was true. I was kind of nervous, and I even told Jake that after we'd talked a bit.

    I told Jake in the opening seconds that I had been asked to do a story on him and that the only way I was interested in doing one was doing it the right way. That was, to see him and see if he'd be open to talk. I didn't have a notepad or pen or really press that point. I was just selling myself, telling him who I was (It did help that I had written about him before and he had seen the stories. In fact, I put in later that he said he knew I was coming and I believe that because he kind of surprised me after I introduced myself by saying, "I know who you are, and I appreciate what you've written." I didn't put that in the story. It got away from what I was doing and seemed self-serving. I only tell it here because it's something writers can understand as helping to get the story.

    I didn't think it necessary to add "mystery" of whether he talked or not as some people suggested. In fact, to me the big point of the lede is everything he was reputed to be through the years isn't what he was on first meeting. He was nice, friendly, open and borderline ready to meet. That was the major point. The point isn't that I talked to him. The point is he was willing and seemed to be happy to talk.

    Second point: As for the reporting at the bar. No, I didn't wear a wire or put down a tape recorder or take note for several hours. I just went in, sat down, ordered a beer and talked for a long time. My thought was: He was nice enough to invite me to his place; let's go at his pace and let him lay down the ground rules. As the night wore on, he joked I was the "spy" sent to find him, and other things like that, which I took as him being open to writing all this. So when I put in the thought about Richard asking him if he was really talking to a writer, and he shrugged, that was kind of the final key to me that he was cool with a story. And I did grab a cocktail napkin and start quoting him directly. I also wrote down other thoughts I wanted to get in that we'd talked about earlier.

    How did I quote him directly on the earlier thoughts? Well, some of them are simple one-lines that it doesn't take any memory to remember. The lengthier quotes I checked with him the next afternoon. I said, "I just want to go over what you said about why you moved to Kauai," for instance. Then I'd say what I remembered him saying.

    Also the next day, I double-checked the sensitive Shula story on the elevator.

    That's about it. The truth is Jake was nice enough and he made it easy enough to do a story on him. He invited me into his world for a while when he could just as easily have shoved me out.

    The unsung hero in all this was my sports editor, Brian White, who pushed me to go do this. I had the idea a while back, but wasn't exactly pushing it because I figured there was a great chance of flying to Hawaii and being shut out. Brian really said to go do it and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work.

    Anyway, I feel a bit uncomfortable writing this much about a story I did. But it's fun to see the reaction it's brought here and elsewhere. I figured the least I could do considering all the nice words being written was to answer a few of the questions that people raised.


    Dave Hyde
  5. Bruhman

    Bruhman Active Member

    so why'd he talk?

    i'm guessing at least part of it was being impressed that dave went to such lengths. another part might be the previous stories dave wrote. and third might be he said, "what the hell?" and just did it.

    he could've just as easily thrown dave off the porch. it sounds like the man who wakes up every day and decides whether to fish, golf or have a drink, might've had a "what the hell" moment and opted to open up for a change.
  6. Jesus_Muscatel

    Jesus_Muscatel Well-Known Member

    I grew up in D.C. and my dad told me several Jake Scott stories from his days with the 'Skins, and he wasn't even a sportswriter.

    He covered national politics.

    Dave it was very gracious of you to map some things out. Gave me a couple ideas of my own for possible projects of this ilk at some point.

    Again, great work.
  7. Vic Mackey

    Vic Mackey Member

    Dave, you answered my one major question: How did you remember all of those people Scott discussed at the bar before you picked up the napkin to record notes?

    Great story. Nice work. I wish it were mine.
  8. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    This was already a very good thread. Now that Dave's joined in, it's become one of those great threads that make SportsJournalists.com worth visiting.

    As has been said, there are a hundred ways to write a story... Particularly a story like this one, a story without a template. Dave's approach obviously worked, and I'm glad he came here to explain why he chose it. But I'd still be curious to hear other approaches -- not, of course, to denigrate Dave's work, but perhaps to illuminate it further.

    And if this thread inspires other writers and editors to stretch, to explore, to take a few chances, then all the better.
  9. Columbo

    Columbo Active Member

    Some may like quoteless Elvis Grbac epics...I'll take this one.
  10. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Nobody told Dave to fetch them a ... just kidding.

    Just goes to show that this site is read and discussed in many circles.

    I have a terrible attention span, Dave, and you hooked me from the first word. Thanks for the read.
  11. Montezuma's Revenge

    Montezuma's Revenge Active Member

    I think you're dead wrong. Hyde is enough of a pro that if he'd have had legitimate material to show why Scott opened up, he'd have used it. And if he doesn't have the goods, why screw up the story by SPECULATING on Scott's motives?
  12. goalmouth

    goalmouth Well-Known Member

    This may be a nit, but that quote from Jake about finding out who your friends are when you have both your hands in casts? George Plimpton in "One More July" quoted Bill Curry claiming Colt-turned-analyst Alex Hawkins used it on live TV circa mid-70s. That book is a fun read if you can find it.
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