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Profile without Interview

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by gradysmith, Apr 8, 2012.

  1. gradysmith

    gradysmith New Member

    I'm interested in writing a story about a former 1st round draft pick--who never panned out--and I'm wondering if it would be necessary to meet and interview said person. Ideally, I would like to interview him, but I'm thinking he won't be interested, as the piece is about how a 1st rounder, with all the tools and repeated chances, still doesn't pan out. This is someone I used to know, who I played with, so I'd be able to contact him...but if he doesn't agree to a sitdown, is the piece still something I should go about writing/pitching? Thanks.
  2. pseudo

    pseudo Well-Known Member

  3. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

  4. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    You can do it, but the very first thing on your to-do list needs to be an e-mail to the player or his agent. You have to give the guy a chance to talk. And you may be surprised by the results. Some people would love the opportunity to set the record straight.

    If you don't get the guy (and even if you do, I suppose), you need to be ridiculously thorough in in your reporting. I'm talking hyper-meticulous. Try to get two sources' (not necessarily people) corroboration on everything. To tell someone's story without them is to walk into a field of accuracy landmines.

    Pete Thamel's story on Nerlens Noel and Chuck Driscoll shows the kind of in-depth reporting necessary to execute a feature without the subjects' cooperation. The ultimate example of a sports story being done with no cooperation from the source is David Halberstam's book on Michael Jordan.

    It's not the same. Gay Talese had access to Frank Sinatra. He spent tons of time with Sinatra, just watching. His was a choice, sort of.
  5. Quakes

    Quakes Guest

  6. reformedhack

    reformedhack Well-Known Member

    You have to approach him and ask to talk to him, but if he says no, that doesn't mean you're out of luck. It just means you have to work a little harder to talk to the people who were in his life at the time and in the years since.
  7. crimsonace

    crimsonace Well-Known Member

    From the perspective of being a reporter, you *have* to contact this person at the very least. If they decline, you can at least mention they declined to be interviewed for the story. If they accept, the profile just became a million times better.

    From a legal perspective, if there's something there that's false and defames the person (e.g., if you get stuck as a defendant in a libel suit), you're on a whole lot more shaky ground if you didn't at least attempt to contact the person.
  8. gradysmith

    gradysmith New Member

    Thanks for all the assistance thus far. I definitely want to talk to him, as it will surely make the piece that much stronger. I come from a fiction background--where I've had some success--but I've always been a big reader and fan of long form sports journalism, so I figured this was my chance of giving it a shot. This type of thing has been done before--athlete that never been panned out--so I'm not sure if this is even a viable piece/pitch, but the guy was a first round pick/signed a million dollar contract/never even sniffed the show, so it might be of some interest to someone else. We'll see. Either way, though, the interview does seem to be crucial.
  9. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    One thing I would add is you might pitch it to the player as more of a "where are they now" type of feature than as one of those "athletes who never panned out" stories.
  10. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    I was coming here to post just this. You rule.
  11. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    Yes, don't make assumptions.
    Also, you can easily turn this into a Where are They Now? type piece...maybe the guy is doing something more important than playing a game for a living.
  12. dirtybird

    dirtybird Well-Known Member

    Was just going to mention that. The book is brilliant and hardly lacking.
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