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No, the big paper isn't here today...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by flexmaster33, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. CA_journo

    CA_journo Member

    It's also kinda weird when a parent calls/e-mails in, thinking that little Johnny making the Big City Paper's all-whatever team is a news item for us. Um... nope.
  2. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    As a weekly group, we have that discussion at the end of every season (fortunately the leagues all do all-star teams).

    I had a coach livid that we wouldn't mention his coach-of-the-year award or his kid's player-of-the-year.

    I think sometimes you can go overboard in ignoring the other paper, but not necessarily in this case.

    Of course out library columnist wanted to mention that the library/museum in town was named the county's No. 1 tourist attract by Nearby City Paper.

    Don't ask ;)
  3. This is the worst. Last year I dealt with a high school football coach who was heated with the press at the beginning of the season because, he said, one of the recruiting site reporters made up half a story's worth of quotes from him in a story about one of his kid's recruiting trips. I've since personally patched things up with the guy, who tells me he'll never talk to that site's reporters ever again. And lucky me, this coach has a rising senior ranked in the top 50 at any position in the country who has yet to commit. Who is going to have an easier time getting access to the kid and the team and a heads-up when the news is going to break? Some times you can turn another reporter's mistake into your advantage.
  4. One of the worst points of my career was thanks to a situation like that. I was working at a small-town daily covering the high school I was assigned to, the one I was at five and six days a week covering events and writing stories. The big-town paper from about 50 miles away sends an intern to cover a football game one week and in his story the next day has the teams' top two tailbacks rushing for something like 390 yards. I've got them for about a combined 280 and shrug it off, show my editor my notes and we laugh at the other guy's error. The next day one of the state's biggest papers picks it up and one of their columnists, a high school football historian, points out this was a record for most rushing yards between two competing running backs in a single game in state history. Then a few other papers pick it up and it's all over the web. By mid-week I start getting calls from parents who are telling me I need to correct my story or write about the record. I check with the local high school coach who says he watched the film and thinks the big-town paper's intern was correct but won't give me a copy of the film to watch and double-check my stats. So again I sit down and go over my play-by-play trying to figure out how I lost more than 100 yards. No dice. In a small town, this has now blossomed into big controversy and no one is willing to believe me. The EE makes me write a column apologizing for the error and mention it's a state record. For what it's worth, a lot of people then called and thanked me for handling it so "classy."

    Fast forward a few months and I happen to be on the phone with the big-city paper's SE. I mention this to him and he had no idea there was any discrepancy. Then he says, "You know, I would bet you're actually right. I don't even use that guy any more because we kept having coaches call to complain about the stats in his stories. He was always way off."
  5. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    I'm more amazed that someone can live in a state where two competing running backs haven't combined for at least 400 yards in a game.
  6. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    When I covered high school football, the state had a lot more newspapers than it has today and it was not unusual for five or six dailies, plus sometimes two twice-weeklies that had Sunday papers, to cover the games I covered and it was not at all uncommon for everyone to have wildly different stats. The first time it happened, I looked at the largest paper first and kind of freaked out at this discrepancy. Then I saw that everyone disagreed at least a little. We all kept our own books. The next day I checked with both schools and neither of their books matched the other school's. My SE pointed out that he thought the other papers' writers were no more competent than I was, and probably most of us were as competent as the high school kids keeping the books for the schools, so fuck it, go with what you saw.
  7. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    @ MonsterLobster...it's nice that the EE had your back...geesh.

    The EE could have at least looked into it a bit before forcing a column of this sort on you. Poor all around. Did you mention to the EE your discussion with the big-city SE? I would make of point of doing so.

    When the coach wouldn't allow you to confirm things via film (that's how the 'official' stats are submitted in our area), then you consult your notes (as you did) and trust your numbers.
  8. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    "I get that the role of a smaller paper is different. If you cover one high school in your town and wear the chartreuse and orange of the Podunk Possums, fine."

    No, not fine. Whether you work at a large or tiny paper, your standards shouldn't change.
  9. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    There's a lacrosse coach in one of the towns one of my co-workers covers who never returns phone calls from my co-worker.
    I asked the lacrosse guy for one of the big papers about the guy and he said he was great, always helpful, glad to talk to him, etc.
    Another friend of mine who covers that team for another small paper says the guy never returns his phone calls, either. To work around that, he just copies from the book when he goes to a game every week or so.
    Seems the coach feels that for the local paper, the onus is on them to be there at every game.
    I'd agree with him if his team were the only thing my co-worker had to cover.
  10. I'm an idiot. I knew that sounded off even when I typed it, but I was too lazy to search for it. I just tried to remember what the numbers were, and you're right, they didn't fit. Should have looked.

    But it's OK because when I just did look, the big-city paper's stringer/intern had them for a combined 726 rushing yards. It was about 150 off my total based on a cached version of my story I just found. My best guess is the big-city guy rounded up and counted runs that got called back on penalties, and over the course of a game in which basically only two running backs made a difference it added up.

    And lo and behold when I Google those kids' names and schools, there's a video of the each of the kids' carries from that night. I rounded up to the nearest five yards and came up 575 yards - or roughly 150 below what the intern/stringer had. At least that detail was correct in my memory. I wish I had been able to find this video in 2007.

    If you have seven minutes to waste, here's the footage. The best part is more than 4,000 people have watched that video and judging by the comments not one has bothered to add up the yards.

  11. It wasn't a place where the truth outweighed pleasing people to sell papers. What is going to make people around town like us more? Covering a local kid being part of a state record or playing devil's advocate and saying my stats don't match up? Obviously the EE would rather err on the side of rack sales.
  12. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    Newspapers have to get the facts straight first and stand behind that...the moment you go from reporting the facts to reporting what boosts rack sales you become a tabloid.
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