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Preps coach's DUI sentencing: sports or cityside?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by pseudo, Apr 4, 2008.

  1. pseudo

    pseudo Active Member

    Last fall, a local high school football coach was pulled over on a traffic stop in the wee hours of the a.m., then arrested after he blew twice the legal limit on a breathalyzer test. Second offense in three years. The local daily ran the first arrest and conviction/sentencing in news, with the rest of the court notes. This time, the SE chose to write about it. The story on the arrest ran last October; the coach resigned a few days later. His sentencing ran in sports today instead of in the usual report on page 3.

    The paper took some heat over it last fall, but I was in total agreement with their decision to run the arrest in the sports section -- the team was in the middle of its season, and two DUIs don't exactly speak well of the coach's ability to function as a role model for his players. However, I'm not so sure about giving another (estimated) eight inches to the sentencing. Was it still newsworthy enough to break it out of the normal court notes? Corollary: once the SE wrote about the arrest (and followed with a column explaining his decision), was he compelled to also cover the sentencing?
  2. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Public figure --- deserves greater play, be that news or sports.
    And yes, you follow it to completion. What if he was innocent or received a suspended sentence
  3. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I don't think there's a blanket answer; it would depend on the town and its level of obsession with high school football. Also, now that he's no longer the coach, it would depend on how long he was the coach. Big difference between him being there three years and 20 years.
  4. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    second offense in three years? It needs to be played bigger. Doesnt have to be a banner, but deserves more than a graf...
  5. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    If he's a local big shot, A-1, even if he's no longer the coach.
    Never should have been in sports to start with.
  6. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    Totally agree. The bigger the coach, the bigger the magnitude, of course. But even if he's someone most of the community would recognize, this is news.
  7. In Cold Blood

    In Cold Blood Member

    We had a local coach get a DUI back in november. He drove his sports car into the side of a downtown business.

    Hugely successful coach: team has gone to state a couple years in a row now, he's defending district coach of the year, yada yada yada.

    Our courts reporter handled the initial arrest story and the court appearance story. Both ran in A section.

    The school didn't officially fire him as coach until the end of February. When that news broke, I wrote it for the sports section.

    The guy has had a half dozen run-ins with the law in the past eight years or so, ranging from reckless driving, to DUI, to assault, and the community still went up into arms because we wrote a story about him crashing into a downtown building. We're still getting letters to the editor a month later, accusing us of ruining his life and forcing the school district to fire him by drawing attention to the case.

    Readers never fail to amaze me.
  8. Stone Cane

    Stone Cane Member

    out front

    no question
  9. pseudo

    pseudo Active Member

    A little additional background: Very small town roughly 15 minutes from the 12K daily, historically mediocre-to-bad team. Their next playoff appearance will be their first, if they find enough players to keep the team going -- they had to forfeit a game earlier in the season when their roster dropped below the state minimum.

    So he's not really a big name outside that town, but I'd agree that he's still a public figure. In Cold Blood, the reaction was muted here (his record was 19-36, after all, and I'm not naive enough to think that doesn't matter), but there were still some letters similar to yours. "The hurt and embarrassment you've caused his family," yadda yadda yadda. Nope, Coach did that by his own damn self when he got behind the wheel that night.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
  10. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    Spirited: I am thinking the other way. It should have been in sports.


    Well, it's a separate story *because* he's a public figure, and he's a public figure *because* of sports.

    Of course, if it's big enough, it goes Page 1, regardless of it being sports.

    That's my thinking anyway.
  11. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    I think it belongs in news. Depending how big he was, separate stories can be in news AND sports.
  12. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I'm with you, Billy T.

    I'm of a mind that many sports readers tend to look at that section only, and barely glance at the news section most of the time. And because he's a coach, the sports section is where most people who would recognize or be interested in this guy would look.

    Unless, he's a huge name, or other, extenuating circumstances are involved, such as him or others being injured or killed as a result of his DUI.

    Regardless of where it ends up, the case should be followed through to its conclusion, preferably running in the same section for the duration.
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