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Sending non-reporters to play reporter

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Condition Of Anonymity, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. A former coworker of mine (a semi-regular on these boards) passed this along to me, asking me to post it here so he/she wouldn't out him/herself (probably would have been easier to create a new account, but hey, I'm here to help). So here you go:

    The Munster Times had their design editor cover the Bears-Chargers game in San Diego this past week, apparently because he could be there for free. He writes a weekly football picks column in the paper, but that's the extent of his "reporter" background. They usually don't travel with the Bears unless it's within driving distance. Though they did cover the Super Bowl with two writers last year. The design editor wrote a game story, sidebar and column from the game. The Times also had a copy editor from the paper cover the Brickyard 400 earlier this summer, along with a regular staff writer.

    Is this just creative use of staff, saving money and utilizing non-staffers' knowledge of certain subjects, or is this wildly offensive to the staff writers and a further example of finances trumping journalistic integrity? Personally, I'm torn. If this were a much smaller paper, I think it'd be the former. But a paper of, what, 80K circulation? Is that too big to be pulling this?

  2. I don't think it's offensive to the rest of the staff - the designer is supposedly a journalist, too. But it does sound a bit amateurish - "hey the janitor scored some tickets to the Poison concert. Let's see if he'll write us up 10 inches!" - OK, that's snide, but it just seems if you're going to cover it, cover it. If not, don't.
  3. HandsomeHarley

    HandsomeHarley Well-Known Member

    I know of a place that does it regularly because A) They are short-staffed and B) The sports editor refuses to cover anything except college football.
  4. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    As a manager, I like this idea, since it wouldn't cost any money (this is what Gannett is reducing me to).
    But as an editor, I also like this idea. Too many times, there's ill will between reporters and copy editors or page designers. I can only hope things like this will generate some empathy, so a copy editor doesn't just read a story, shake their head and start hacking away at it, and so a reporter doesn't go apeshit because they figure that whoever was on the desk has no idea what they really do for a living.
  5. Babs

    Babs Member

    My only question after reading this thread is this -- if the paper is so short-staffed that they are sending copy editors and designers to events, who exactly is doing the copyediting and designing when the copy then comes in?
  6. JD Canon

    JD Canon Guest

    babs, sounds like a situation where the designer was conveniently in the area (maybe on vacation or traveling on his own?), not that they pulled him away from his duties and left a big void.

    i have no direct knowledge. just giving my impression.
  7. It sounds like if the guy wasn't there, they wouldn't have covered it. So I don't see the problem. It's not like they sent him instead of their Bears writer.
  8. JD Canon

    JD Canon Guest

    exactly, FOF.
  9. Was the guy getting paid while he was on assignment?
  10. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    My questions is: Were his stories good, or at least satisfactory? If so, I don't see a problem. Besides, it sounds like he worked pretty hard at the game, filing three stories. It doesn't take a genius to write an NFL gamer, and from the sound of things, this guy knows the subject and at least can write a little, since he's writing a picks column every week. If he was willing to do it, and the quality of his stuff is decent, and the paper gets coverage of a game it otherwise wouldn't have covered, I don't have an issue with it.
  11. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    My thoughts are that DyePack is somehow involved with the creation of this thread.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Why complain if no reporter was going to cover the game anyway?

    Even if the designer/copy editors completely crapped out, you could always use the wire copy. At worst, the deskers would gain an appreciation of what the writers go through.

    How can that be bad?
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