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Part-timer horror stories

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Clever username, Aug 29, 2006.

  1. sartrean

    sartrean Member

    College kid comes in, wanting job (or to be "intern" as he said). He was a persistent little f--.

    So I decided to give him some guidance. First, I told him that he'd not be paid for the first two gamers he did, just policy.

    I told him the two cardinal sins: 1.) plagiarism (including the manufacturing of sources a la Jason Blair) and 2.) missing a deadline. Then I told him the deadline dates and times, and tested his abilty to attribute sources. He did okay, being a junior journalism major.

    I printed out a how-to-write-a-gamer guideline sheet and gave it to him. This explained how to talk to coaches and other sources, how to write a story, how to write a lede and warned him not to give me a play-by-play.

    His first two gamers were short and sweet and dadgummit, he even got some good quotes. Put him on payroll. He did gamer No. 3 and didn't do bad. Then he informs me of a great feature of a guy at Podunk High. I gave him a guideline sheet on how-to-write-a-feature and part timer said he'd get it to me in one week. I called him three days prior to deadline and asked him about the feature and how he was coming on it. Advised him to talk to a couple of other potential sources, based on what he told me about the player.

    Everything's a-okay, he told me.

    Deadline day: Called the part timer, "I'm working on it."

    "That's great," I said. "Make sure you have it in by 5 p.m. and remember that cardinal sin I told you about."

    "Yeah man, it's all good," part timer said.

    He missed deadline. So I was hoping to come in the next day and find it in my in-box. It wasn't there. Had to fill that space with wire copy. Paper comes out and then two days later, then two days later I get his feature story.

    It was actually a pretty good story too, and better late than never. But I got a wild hair up my ass and called Podunk's coach and asked him about some of the stuff in it.

    "I'm quoted in what...a story by who?" coach said.

    Come to find out he made up quotes, never met anyone, not even the player the feature was on, and made up quotes from players and coaches in his three gamers he'd given me, even though he did go to the games.

    He comes by on payday looking for a check.

    I grilled him on his crap, and he finally admitted making everything up except for the actual game info and agate. But, he still wanted a check.
  2. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member


    So, how do you clean up a mess like that? Long editor's note?
  3. Canyonero!

    Canyonero! Member

    Why do people make up quotes? Yes, it'd be hard telling your employer "I slacked off and didn't get the story done," but it's a whole helluva lot better than compromising the integrity of the business, and your own integrity.

    What's with the people who don't see this? And making up quotes for a gamer he was AT? All he had to do was walk 50 feet to the coach or a kid afterward. Wow.
  4. TwoGloves

    TwoGloves Well-Known Member

    Right after a giving him a swift kick in the groin.
  5. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    Because a) they don't think they'll get caught, and b) they don't truly realize how bad a transgression it is.
  6. Clever username

    Clever username Active Member

    I have a similar second-hand story.

    A guy a few years ago covered a playoff basketball game by watching it at home on the cable access and using the quotes the coach gave the TV guy. He didn't make anything up, but the coach called and said he never saw the reporter at the game. That's how you get caught.
  7. sartrean

    sartrean Member

    I was lucky that the teams' coaches of the games he covered didn't read the paper that much. It was at a weekly, you know.

    It was a mess, no doubt. I lost sleep over that crap for a few weeks, and then it just went away. Nobody ever called about that, but the part timer did email me and call me a few times wanting to cover some games.
  8. sartrean

    sartrean Member

    This guy was a college student, like 20 years old. When I grilled him about making up quotes, he said it was really chaotic after the games and most of the people he needed to talk to were gone by the time he got on the field, and he wanted to impress me. I told him had he read the two-page how-to-write-a-gamer instruction sheet I gave him would have helped him deal with the post-game chaos. On impressing me, I told him that this was a weekly paper, not the freaking New York Times, and I was just an underling.

    A few months later, I saw a copy of the student paper where this kid went to school. I noticed he had two articles about student government in it. And I was thinking, oh boy, this kid's going to ruin his chances of ever getting a job if keeps on "reporting" on stuff.
  9. At my first stop, one stringer was a nice god-fearing man who was not afraid to take his stringer job right to the sideline - as in he sat on the end of the bench with the girls soccer team. Throughout the game he made comments about the game to the players and the coach. The coach didn't do anything about it because 1) he had a game to coach and 2) he was a super nice guy.

    The prep editor still has the stringer's god-fearing music CD somewhere. I think the guy played a concert at a library.
  10. HandsomeHarley

    HandsomeHarley Well-Known Member

    Both this year:

    * Part-timer comes in wanting a gig. Loves writing poetry and such, and thinks she wants to go into writing.

    First night on the desk, she has two capsules (poorly) written while my other part-timer is on her sixth. She goes out for a cig break - and never returns.

    * Part-timer takes half my freaking football questionaires home with him to write for the tab. I call. And call. And call. Then I e-mail. And e-mail.

    I finally get his home address and go to his freaking house. He apologizes profusely, blah, blah, blah. OK, I tell him I need him to cover a football game that Friday night.

    No show. I call. And call. And call. Fuck this, I'm firing the piece of shit.

    A couple of days later, I see him on the front page of another regional paper, full pose, across the page from a woman, full pose, full-page story on gays in our area.

    It must have been something I said.
  11. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    i fail to get the connection with the person's sexual orientation and being a fuckup. please explain.
  12. HandsomeHarley

    HandsomeHarley Well-Known Member

    No problemo.

    The fuck up was letting him take half my football capsules home with him. Of course, I had no idea he wasn't planning to return them, or the office key, or my messages ...

    I figured I might have dropped the "F" word somewhere inthe office when he was there. =-/
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