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Letter from a parent that makes me want to quit on the spot, now.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Brain of J, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. JBHawkEye

    JBHawkEye Well-Known Member

    We all get complaints. It's the nature of the business.

    If the letter was anonymous, toss it. The first thing I do when I notice there's no return address is to see if the letter is signed. If not, I dump it.
  2. sportschick

    sportschick Active Member


    To echo Cadet about asking for help with stats, don't be afraid to ask on here either. There are quite a few of us who are ex-stats folks and can help you out.
  3. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    Yes, we are stat nerds here, too.

    The only reason I didn't suggest that is because I didn't want to feed him directly to the hounds. There are some people on here who believe you have to walk into a sportswriting job knowing everything about everything.
  4. statrat

    statrat Member

    I feel you. Last week I managed to misidentify 3 separate kids in photographs and was innundated with complaints from parents. I was embarrassed because I do try to get it right. As several others have said, many of us are the sports section at our papers so the buck stops at our desk. I wrote an email to the parents who complained and apologized, wrote a series of corrections, and then looked at how the mistakes got made in order to do things better. I now write photo cutlines-previously the last thing I did-first, so I am scrambling on deadline and make a mistake. Use the letter to push yourself to be better, and like others have said, see if your editor or publisher will spring for a photography class. Good luck!
  5. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    I didn't say *I* don't know everything, just that *most people* don't know everything.

    Don't question my intelligence. It could come back to haunt you.
  6. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Some of the best people in our business have been there. THE best. Huge names.

    Well, I never was criticized for anything or did anything wrong, ever, but I'm an exception. ::)

    Take what you feel is correct criticism and work on fixing those problems. Ask your editor for guidance, assuming he's a decent one.

    You'll be learning in this business until the day you retire. This is part of the process.
  7. sportschick

    sportschick Active Member

    She is soooooooooooooo gonna kick your ass, buck.
  8. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    The first thing you do when you get a letter like that is throw a good fit. Yell, swear, throw things.

    Then calm down and ask yourself if the points are valid. If you got something wrong and you're saying, "Yes, but, I only had 15 minutes to write the story..." well, that doesn't matter to the readers. They saw information that was incorrect and they're entitled to complain about it.

    It's OK to get mad, but if they raised legitimate points, you have to do better.
  9. I would guess a lot of us started out as one-man shows at a small-town weekly, doing lots of crap (i.e. photography) we weren't very good at. Count me as one. If I picked up some of my first issues from way back when, I'm sure some of it would bring lunch back up. (And I just had Taco John's, so that wouldn't be pretty.)

    Most importantly, if you love what you're doing, keep plugging away. If the criticism is warranted/constructive, give it its due and try to improve your product. And always strive to get better -- that shouldn't stop even after your first Pulitzer. But just keep plugging away.
  10. ^^^ Agreed.

    When I first started out, I was hired straight out of college to be a one-man show at a tri-weekly in bumfuck, North Carolina. I had no experience writing on deadline, no experience writing sports and no experience wielding a camera that wasn't a point-and-shoot. My first day I was so overwhelmed that I almost tossed the computer out a window. There were more days like that and, sure, there were a lot of complaints about the quality of the photos and writing in the early days. But I took them as a challenge to get better and I worked my ass off. Six years later I feel like I'm a better and more well-rounded journalist. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. I still fuck up on a semi-regular basis, but that doesn't distinguish me from the crowd in this field.

    Just take the advice on this thread and learn from this experience. Work hard, get better and the anonymous complaints will go away. OK, they never go away, but you'll get less of them.
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Smasher is 100 percent right. Just because it isn't signed doesn't mean it's not worth considering. Just means you don't have to respond to it -- which is a good thing.
  12. Editude

    Editude Active Member

    Master the details -- team records and standings, names, stats, schedules -- before anything. If it's not on deadline, could you check with a coach/school statkeeper to check numbers and names? As the career arc proceeds, I'm looking forward to that level of coverage (assuming it exists then).
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