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Relationships while covering recruiting

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Bucknutty, Dec 11, 2007.

  1. Bucknutty

    Bucknutty Member

    I've been pondering this.

    My stupid job makes me cover high school recruiting, a fact I have lamented on the board before. As we're getting closer to the time where kids are making announcements and narrowing the list of reporters they are talking to, I often find myself on the outside looking in as few answer my phone calls.

    I was attending a ceremony a few weeks ago for a kid who is playing in the U.S. Army All-American game. Great kid, honest and genuine and all that jazz. In his speech, he thanked a bunch of writers for their support -- all my competitors, basically. He also mentioned one in particular (a hack who does nothing but recruiting coverage) and thanked him for "believing in him" for so many years. In another case, a reporter broke a story about a kid committing because he called him on his cell phone at school.

    Here's my thoughts: As a reporter, I'm not supposed to be "believing" in kids and encouraging them on to success. I'm supposed to be unbiased and just report what I know. I'm certainly not supposed to be promoting these kids (although I realize that simply by writing about them, I am).

    Also, I'm never going to call a kid while he's supposed to be in school to try and get the scoop. That's just a line I don't feel like I want to cross.

    Should I be breaking these ethical lines to be breaking more news? My gut tells me no.
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    If you were smart, you'd be taking the payola your competitors are getting from the scuzzy coaches to steer the kids their way.

    I think you are right to feel if your subjects are thanking you for your support, nine times out of 10, you've crossed the line.
  3. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I don't know. I wrote an article about a basketball player, a prep of the week profile. He came up later that Spring to thank me and shook my hand for saying it helped him get into Columbia University. Still in my top 5 of the best things that have happened to me in journalism.
  4. GB-Hack

    GB-Hack Active Member

    I got a thank you note from a couple of players of the year in the past, and also had a player send a letter to my editor saying she thought I and the paper had done a great job covering her sport in her four years at school.

    One of the notes is still in HS, the other two are both playing at major school's in their sport. I thought it was nice of them to do, and don't think my coverage had anything to do with the school's they got and will get to go to.
  5. Bucknutty

    Bucknutty Member

    Right, I think things like that are OK and I appreciate them, but I'm not sure I want to be the writer who is writing things like "So-and-so is an amazing prospect who will have a great career at Big School U." in my articles. I'll write "Johnny had 300 tackles as a sophomore and is being penciled in as the starter in three years," and if they want to thank me for that they can, but that's just me doing my job. To me, there's a difference between the two.
  6. tonysoprano

    tonysoprano Member

    Don't worry about what Johnny Douchebag Superstar says. Your job is to find out where he's going. If that means calling him at school, e-mailing him on MySpace, or calling his mom at work, so be it.
  7. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    Recruiting writers are crossing ethical lines!?! I'm shocked! [/sarcasm]

    Said it before, I'll say it again: At some point, a recruiting writer is going to be in the center of an NCAA investigation. Too many times, they are nothing but de facto recruiters for whichever school they cover.
  8. JLawson

    JLawson Member

    My feeling is if the kid is good you're going to write about him at some point. If a recruiter happens to read your article about a kid who rushed for 200 yards in a game and had 15 tackles playing linebacker in the same game, than that is just coincidence. You're not here to help kids get recruited, that's their job by playing on the field. But I did have a parent use my articles about his kid in a recruiting video. I didn't see anything wrong with it because that same kid had bad games that I wrote about too.
    As for relationships with players and coaches, I think that if you talk to these kids and coaches on a daily basis you're going to get a relationship with them regardless and they may confide in you for stories like this.
  9. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    College coaches don't care dick about what's in the paper. If the kids have the goods on tape, then he's in. If not ...
  10. Hammer Pants

    Hammer Pants Active Member

    Bingo. It's coming somewhere ... and hopefully soon. Some of those fuck-o homers cross the line.
  11. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    You are right to feel that way, bucknutty. I'm right there with you. At one of my previous stops, there was a big-time preps writer at one of the competing papers. He'd been doing the job a long time and was very good at it.

    But every time I saw him hugging one of the big-time recruits in the area, it made me uncomfortable to watch somebody I had some respect for crossing lines that I would never cross.
  12. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    Bucknutty, I would never call a kid on a cell phone during school hours. To me that's off-limits, unless you're covering the likes of LeBron James, which I don't think you are. Heck, I'm generally uncomfortable calling high school kids on their cell phones; I'd rather call the house, let a parent answer, identify myself, then ask for Jimmy Superstud. Or catch them before/after practice. I realize that's a little idealistic, but I think you're right on this one.
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