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Scooped! SOB scooped 'cause we sat on the story

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Evil ... Thy name is Orville Redenbacher!!, Jun 21, 2007.

  1. I am sooooo pissed off right now I can't see straight.
    I had huge (BIG) story ready to break - I mean written and ready to go for three weeks - Three FUCKING weeks - but we don't run it.
    Publisher wants to hold it. Wants to sit on it, until he gets the OK from a source outside the company.
    As we wait, the story is slowly seeping out.
    Over the last week, several other outlets (papers and radio) do briefs alluding to the story, but they can't get any confirmation.
    I have confirmation. I have quotes and details and all the nitty gritty. Still we sit.
    Yesterday, more media outlets are sniffing it out. This morning we break just a tease of what we know - then the topper. The last paragraph of the story in this morning's paper - added by an editor on the order of the publisher - says we'll have all the details in Sunday's edition.
    In other words we are high stepping to end zone as we try to score. In my opinion that's taunting AND putting pressure on the other media. It also lets my sources know they may as well talk to the other outlets now 'cause the story is going to break.
    Television station just broke the story on their 6 o'clock news. Led the newscast with it. The dubbed it an exclusive.
    FUCK me with a jagged brick!
    Now it looks like I'm chasing them.
    My three weeks of work - and chasing leads - was all for naught because the TV - without using quotes or confirmation (citing sources) breaks the story. I may have well been taking little league results.

    I need to vent.
    I'm going to drown my anger in beer and liquor,then go home, kick my dog, fire off an angry email to Sears (for no good reason really) and go to bed.

    Just needed to vent.

  2. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I had a story that the winner of a masters division of a big-time marathon was being looked at for pulling a Rosie Ruiz. The editors weren't interested in it until they read it in another paper.

    I'm getting a serious flashback to David Schwimmer's work as Sobel in Band of Brothers. Where's journalism's Dick Winters?
  3. tyler durden 71351

    tyler durden 71351 Active Member

    I feel for you. Similar thing happened in my shop last week...we had details about a business deal going down. We called off the dogs after we were told we would get an exclusive...and the story ends up on the front page of the competition. To make matters worse, the person who promised us the exclusive has a sibling who works for us.
    Management should let reporters report...this bull shit about "We'll make sure you're the first to know when it happens. We promise" always ends up biting you in the crotch.
  4. SCEditor

    SCEditor Active Member

    Happened to me a few years back. This shouldn't be too difficult to figure out. I was in a NASCAR town about to lose one of its races. I've got the story, but the person who talks to me won't go on the record unless I use him as an anonymous source. He's got a career to protect; I understand that. I write the story, use my anonymous source, talk to other people in the community (mayor, etc...). Publisher calls the company honcho (we were a small company) and the company says: "No anonymous sources." I hold the story. Two days later, the big metro, having talked to the NASCAR powers-at-be, has it splashed across 1A with anonymous sources. We didn't.
  5. Just have to chime in with one of mine. A few years ago (4-5) a major NFL star who was from the area was supposed to be rehabbing his rebuilt knee. Our SE, who was there when Curly Lambeau was still coaching the Pack, gets a tip saying this star was playing flag football with his boys at a park not 3 minutes from the office.
    He does nothing. For weeks. Finally, word gets around to our competitor, who not only gets the star playing football, gets him to talk AND gets art. It becomes the lead on SportsCenter that night. Writer wins well-deserved APSE Award, SE continues to get older and if possible, even more bitter.
    I think we've all been beaten on something that we had but for some reason had to wait, but there are some things (Orville's situation, the deal with my old SE) when common sense seems to take a holiday.
  6. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    We're inching toward banning anonymous sources, even though our EE wants us to "break news." I have no idea how.
  7. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Well-Known Member

    First off, people lie.

    Secondly, when the reporter is being told that he/she will be the first to know, the reporter never is.
  8. jambalaya

    jambalaya Member

    We have to work under a strict "no anonymous sources" credo. There must be approval from the higher ups and it must be confirmed by at least two anonymously for us to protect either.

    At first I hate it. How do you get anything in the paper?

    Well, honestly, it's made me a better reporter. You have to bust harder to get the guy on the record, or some source, on the record.

    Still, there are times I wish we could use anonymous sources, but it's worked out for the best on this college beat.

    Now, guys on our pro beats would probably say different.
  9. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    Yeah, well, I'm not on a college beat.
  10. SockPuppet

    SockPuppet Active Member

    I think you should say "a source." An "anonymous source" sounds pretty lame. At our shop, we can use sources. All we have to do is tell the boss who the source or sources are. As long as you trust your sources and the boss trusts the reporter, it's all good.
  11. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    Yeah, but that's the point. We can't say that. I can't use "source close to the negotiations" or "source on the team" or anything like that. It has to be "Linebacker Joe Schmoe said quarterback Bert Butthead will sign a 3-year contract extension on Tuesday."

    Any story that matters, no one's going on the record with it.
  12. Amen. Taken that one up the wazoo a time or two.

    And there's nothing quite like going to bed not sure if -- while you're in your holding pattern waiting to be the "first to know" -- the rival is about to rub your face in it the next morning for all to see.

    Ah, gotta love the business.
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