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Journalism ... ethics?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by KyleFranko, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. KyleFranko

    KyleFranko New Member

    I know y'all keep it pretty anonymous with your posts. But I have a question, would like to hear opinions and want to provide links/pics for everyone to digest.

    At the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello, we produce a four-page ISU Gameday section for Idaho State football home games.

    In our latest Gameday — I'm the beat writer/sports editor — we went with a simple theme: "What's wrong with the Bengals." ISU was ranked in the preseason and hoped to build off an 8-4 campaign in 2014. But the 2015 season has been an unmitigated disaster — one DI win, blowout losses (80-8 ... thank you, UNLV) and a severe regression in the team's offensive production.

    Before our Gameday themes focused on "positive" themes. In the second-to-last home game of the season, however, I wanted to attack the overarching question mentioned above in a longform article.

    You can see the Gameday cover here:

    Idaho State fans and administration despised the front. Not surprising, but the universal point they've had is that a "gameday" section shouldn't center on negative subject matters. Instead, we need to write flowerly feature stories ... or whatever.

    SOME OF THE COMMENTS .............

    "And media negatively is supposed to help, right? This "game day" section snippet is an embarrassment. Yes, there has definitely been problems, but ISJ along with Kyle Franco often portray their "support" for the ISU Football program is a negative manner."

    "For a game day issue, it's supposed to be a positive article, wanting fans to come to the game.. Leave this for your "Monday morning armchair quarterback Day" not front page of the game day issue..."

    "I think most of the fans are okay with a headline like this on Monday or Tuesday...AFTER a game and not the day of a game with our biggest rival. This headline just depresses people into staying home and not supporting the team. Save a headline like this for Monday."


    "When the page was shown to me last night it made my heart sink. We as a department and University have worked very hard to create interest in our program and to drive as many people as possible to the games. I believe that you have helped us in that as well. However, after viewing the page on your Twitter feed my first thought was: "why doesn't Kyle just flat out tell our fans to say home, rather than beating around the bush?". For anyone sitting on the fence about whether or not to attend the game today, the front page screams: Stay Home!"


    See all of the Facebook chatter for yourself here:


    So, to me, it comes down to this: Of course, the Idaho State Journal isn't supposed to produce propaganda for the university and teams it covers. But did we pinpoint the wrong time to broach a question like, "What's wrong with the Bengals?"

    Maybe Gameday sections are best suited for feature stories/keys to the game/predictions/etc ....
  2. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    To answer your question, I do think the timing was wrong. No, the paper doesn't need to be a propaganda machine for the university's teams, but I think the gameday section should focus on the actual game. No, it's not up to you to get people out to the games, but an in-depth piece like this seems misplaced. It certainly is a legitimate story, but I would have saved it for another time.
  3. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I would run that midweek.
  4. cjericho

    cjericho Well-Known Member

    BDC has a point, but some of the readers are f'n morans.
  5. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I don't agree with the reasoning of most of the comments, but I might have done more of a story on what the team needed to do to try to win that game, then do this piece at another time.
  6. KVV33

    KVV33 Member

    Don't listen to the whining. This is a good story, and a it's what everyone is wondering.

    GameDay sections are whatever you want to make them. People at the game want to know what the hell happened to the Bengals too. Not one single person stayed home because of what was printed in the newspaper.

    The administration should be looking inward, but that would require perspective.
    cjericho likes this.
  7. JohnHammond

    JohnHammond Well-Known Member

    GameDay sections are whatever the management and the advertisers want it to be.
  8. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    This. There is nothing in your profession's job description that dictates you "support" the home team. You are only to be honest.
  9. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    Yes, but if you throw that at people on gameday morning, when (fanboi) hope still floats and anything can happen, you can't be surprised when it doesn't go over well. Plenty of time for brooding after the team loses another.
  10. Ice9

    Ice9 Active Member

    Are the administrators at ISU signing your checks? Are you in charge of ticket sales? At the end of the day, this is a business. How many papers did this partcular gameday section sell as opposed to others?
  11. KVV33

    KVV33 Member

    One last piece of advice for young sports writers as small town papers (I was one once, so I feel comfortable saying this): If you want your career to continue beyond the town you are currently working in, do not dwell on the fact that you occasional ruffle feathers.

    Be fair, be smart, be innovative. That's a lot more important than making people happy all the time.
  12. Monday Morning Sportswriter

    Monday Morning Sportswriter Well-Known Member

    At this point, just own it.

    Could you have made the same point but on a different day? Or maybe with something less in-your-face? Maybe. But there's nothing wrong with what you did.

    On the other hand, obviously the reaction got to you. Which leads to something I learned later in my career: Sometimes the grief isn't worth it. I've made a few news decisions — photo selection, ignoring the occasional "wait, that was off the record" — that led to all kinds of hell being rained down, all for things that, if I'm honest with myself, really didn't matter in the end.
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