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Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by bmm, May 28, 2009.

  1. bmm

    bmm Member

    Thought I'd start a topic about principles we hold as journalists, how they vary and, unfortunately, how they're changing due to the economy. I know some journalists who refuse to take any freebie, such as a free pop or sandwich at an event they're covering. I know of others who take the pop and sandwich, but refuse any team gear, if offered. My former boss fell into the last category, taking all the freebies. He even took a team shirt of Podunk High School winning a district title. He wore it to work, at Podunk events and even events from other high schools in the county.

    Just thought I'd get the different perspectives and how things are changing or staying the same.
  2. sportsguydave

    sportsguydave Active Member

    I've always tried to adhere to the SPJ standard, which I believe is nothing of value over $5...

    Here in Indiana, there's free food galore come tournament time...I usually will have a sandwich/piece of pizza and a pop.

    I NEVER take free team gear....sometimes I'll buy a Tshirt if it's a fundraiser....but never wear it to an event.
  3. bmm

    bmm Member

    I fall into the take a sandwich and pop type person but refuse team gear.
  4. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    I agree with Dave and bmm on the freebees. I've accepted a free hot dog or sandwich at games before, but certainly nothing like team T-shirts or other gear.

    Here's an important principle I'm following in 2009: an accurate time card. That's right ... even if I'm an hour short or an hour or two long of 40, I write down exactly what I work. When I head out on a food run, I deduct that half-hour from the card, even though I'm often grabbing food for others on the desk or in sports.

    My rationale: If management is hell-bent on a hiring freeze and layoffs at my shop, they need to see how it affects the staff at night. Since the number-crunchers don't give a crap about how the paper looks or reads, you've got to do something to get their attention and show that fewer people doing all the work doesn't happen by magic.

    If they're going to pay me hourly, then anything more than 40 hours is OT. That's the law. Since I started doing this, I've received far less flack for "comping out" an hour or two to go to one of my kids' sporting events.

    Just my two cents (or, at time-and-a-half, 3.5 cents). ;)
  5. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    A coach at one of our schools gave me a team hat one time. Told him I couldn't wear it, but he insisted on giving it to me so I took it. And threw it in a corner. I never wore it. Nor would I wear any piece of team gear. Hell, I sometimes feel weird if I wear the same color shirt of a team I'm covering.

    That said, I'll never pass up a free hamburger or drink. I'll never ask for it, but if a parent working the concession stand at a high school game wants to show their appreciation I'll take it. There's no ulterior motive on their part, they're just trying to be nice. I also doubt they (or anyone in line behind me) are interested in a long-winded discussion on journalism ethics. They might even think I'm a high-and-mighty prick and it might piss off a potential source.
    Basically, it's the path of least resistance. It's easier just to take the fuckin' burger.
    There's also some resentment on my part over the ridiculous markup at those concession stands. $3 for a burger half the size of a Junior Whopper? $1 for a can of Coke? $2 for a small bottle of Powerade? $2 for a bottle of water they pulled out of a case of 12 from Wal-Mart (which cost them $3)? Fuck that. If I get one free burger and drink out of 100 trips to the concession stand, it's sweet freaking justice.
  6. Wenders

    Wenders Active Member

    Agreed. I always avoid, especially when I'm covering my college team, wearing any shirt of the color of the school. I don't want to look biased at all. Where I'm at, there are people who actually wear the team paraphernalia on press row.

    Occasionally, I'll get free food or a drink at an event that didn't come from the press room. The longer you're at a paper, the more the parents start to recognize you and I've had parents who have occasionally given me free food. It's not something that happens every day, but I see it, like Batman, as them appreciating the fact that I'm at the game. When there's four high schools playing simultaneously and just two people on the sports staff, they realize that our time is precious and they're lucky most of the time to get in the paper.
  7. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I've always followed the idea of don't be rude and decline something if someone is trying to be nice.
  8. KYSportsWriter

    KYSportsWriter Well-Known Member

    Knowing where you work and which school you cover, that does not surprise me.

    Hell, there's one guy I see quite a few times throughout the year who wears team gear of the high school he covers for a weekly paper in my chain. And then there's another guy who has been a homer of a school in my region who wears that school's colors (not gear all the time, but anything green and yellow) to games. Drives me up a wall every time I see it, but there's really nothing I can do.

    I covered the district softball tournament last week. First day, I wore a solid blue polo and didn't think anything of it until I got to work because I didn't think I'd be covering the semifinal game. One of the teams we cover wears royal blue, and I've covered them dozens of times wearing the same polo. Had one parent of the opposing team ask me if I was a fan of the blue team, which, for the record, is my alma mater.

    Next night cover same team. This time they're playing a team that wears green. And I'm decked out in a green polo, again not even paying attention to which teams are playing in the game. Get asked the same question from a parent and a fellow "sportswriter" about the shirt and if I'm a fan.

    Free food/drink is as far as I'll go, even though the former girls' basketball coach at my alma mater did give me a T-shirt after her team won the district championship. The shirt is only worn when I'm home and doing something like mowing the grass or swimming or whatever. I never wear it to work and I don't wear it out in public -- even when I go to the gym -- because I don't want to be labeled as a homer sportswriter.
  9. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    That was always my rule, too. No reason not to be polite. If they want to give you apparel, donate it to Goodwill. If they want to give you food, say thank you and don't go back for seconds.
  10. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    This thread reminds me of one of my most embarrassing moments in this business. I was covering the annual visit of Mr. Big Time College Coach to our dusty little burg. It was hosted by the local branch of the college's exes.

    I arranged ahead of time to cover the event, a luncheon. When I got there, they handed me a nametag to wear, which I figured served as my credential.

    What I didn't realize was, when they made the name tags, they put everyone's name into a drawing for prizes. You can see where this is going.

    Time comes for the drawing, and guess who "wins" a football autographed by Mr. Big Time Coach Himself. I'm at the back of the room when they call my name. The crowd is applauding. Taken aback, I'm trying to figure out how to extricate myself from this situation. By this time, Mr. Big Time Coach, a guy I had covered during my college days, is going on and on, calling me "one of the great young sportswriters in America" or some such hyperbole.

    By this point, they've made such a big to-do that there's really no polite way to decline this big of graft. So I sheepishly walk to the front of the room an accept it. I don't know what else to do.

    On the way out of building, after the event is over, I gave it to a kid.
  11. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Sounds like you handled it just fine.
  12. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    I agree. You handled that situation pretty well.
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