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Odd "off the record" question

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by schiezainc, Feb 17, 2008.

  1. schiezainc

    schiezainc Well-Known Member

    So, I'm at our state's indoor track championships today and am covering four teams (boys and girls from school A, boys and girls from school B).
    In my efforts to get quotes from all the coaches i need to at the meet (I'm at a weekly so time isn't a factor), I go to "School 1" and talk to the boys coaches and players first and afterwards am looking for the girls coach from this same school when i am told by the above-mentioned boys coach that this particular individual suffered a heart attack last week and wasn't at the meet.
    Sure, big story. In fact, i'm planning on tailoring my gamer around it. Problem is, I then proceed to talk to the interim coach and ask her how the team was affected by it and how the coach is doing. She tells me that the coach is fine and should be back next week, but then adds that it is "off the record".
    So, i'm confused.
    I've always been told that "off the record" is only a courtesy, but should it apply in this case? I mean, the interim girls coach told me "OTR" that the actual coach is fine, but I have to mention the guy had a heart attack and, unless i was completely idiotic, i should mention that he's fine right? What do you guys think?
  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Off the record is made CLEAR before conversation. Not after. You are fine to use.
  3. Breakyoself

    Breakyoself Member

    maybe if you mention that he had a heart attack, but was recovering well.
  4. schiezainc

    schiezainc Well-Known Member

    Yeah, that sounds good. I just don't want to put something like (and i'm being sarcastic) "Coach Ronald McDonald had a heart attack. His condition was listed as off the record".
  5. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Verify it independently, if you can. Why would it be secret that the coach is doing well? Something seems off there.
  6. John

    John Well-Known Member

    Indeed, I wouldn't run anything until I talked to the coach, or at least the AD.
  7. MU_was_not_so_hard

    MU_was_not_so_hard Active Member

    21 is spot on. Get it confirmed independently (from said heart attack victim, if possible). If not, call the other coach back and tell that person how it is a newsworthy, heart-warming story to see if you can get that "off the record" comment eliminated altogether.
    If nothing else, you should be able to talk to a player about it and what the team went through while their coach was laid up.
  8. I'm guessing the interim coach didn't mind you using the information but didn't want want his/her name attached to it.

    Scheiza: Make sure you clarify that with the source next time and explain what Moddy said about off the record.

    The more knowledgable sources are about how you attribute information, the more comfortable they feel about telling you stuff be it on the record, off the record or on background.
  9. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Once you talk to the coach, write about him and the team and you can ignore anything the interim coach told you.
  10. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    I'll just repeat what others posted: You need to talk to the coach or spouse/family.
  11. Agree with the consensus.
    I know off the record is supposed to be something source asks for and receives the comfirmation of before they say anything.
    Still, I'm pretty forgiving about when people like an interim high school track coach (who may have never before been interviewed) doesn't understand all the rules.
    I'd do everything I could to get confirmation from the recovering coach or the A.D. and try to avoid doing anything that some could construe as burning a source who didn't know better.
  12. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    How about last year, when a major Division I college hoops coach goes on a rant about a player not accepting his scholarship offer when the signing period began and choosing to let his recruitment play out a bit? Local media, visiting media and plenty of television cameras in the room. The SID threatened us afterward, "clarifying" what the coach meant in that it was off the record.

    I don't care what he "meant." He never prefaced anything. I used it. He knows better.

    ...He is not Kelvin Sampson.
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