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SMG: An interview with Tracy Ringolsby

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Lucas Wiseman, Jun 17, 2007.

  1. Lucas Wiseman

    Lucas Wiseman Active Member

    Sports Media Guide has an interview with Rocky Mountain News writer Tracy Ringolsby, who covers the Colorado Rockies.

    "Seriously, one of the most important things is to learn to talk to people with the notebook closed," Ringolsby says. "Deal with people like they're people. You can't make them feel like every time they talk to you they have to be on guard."

  2. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Active Member

    "Seriously, one of the most important things is to learn to talk to people with the notebook closed," Ringolsby says. "Deal with people like they're people. You can't make them feel like every time they talk to you they have to be on guard."

    That's a great quote, and I agree, but it can be difficult at times to tell it to a young reporter and reconcile it with another statement they hear often, that "Everything is on the record unless the reporter and the subject agree something is not."

    Good link. Thanks for posting it.
  3. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    True, nuff. Our prep guy acts tells every coach he deals with as if it's on the record. You cant do that every time. You have to back off sometimes to deal with the long term.
  4. Bill Horton

    Bill Horton Active Member

    Respect given is respect earned. I've seen it work both ways with Tracy. I've seen him give respect to players, managers and coaches in clubhouses and I've seen the way they give it back to him.
  5. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Talking and listening without a notebook open, or even visible, is critical to help build relationships.

    If something important comes up, ask about it later when the notebook is out and the pen is scribbling. By then, after discussing it casually, it can be revisited and possibly expanded upon in a greater way.
  6. casty33

    casty33 Active Member

    I've known Tracy for many years and agree with him on many things. Now, admittedly, the business has changed quite a bit since I was covering regularly and I don't know if bigger crowds in the clubhouse and earlier deadlines would have changed things drastically, but I always liked to get to know players by taking the time to talk to them without an open notebook, thereby getting to know them better and getting them to know and trust me more. Later, when I needed them for a story, hopefully they would open up to a notebook.

    I don't know whether that style of reporting can be done today, especially in overcrowded NY clubhouses, but it used to work in what I still refer to as the good old days.
  7. FlipSide

    FlipSide Member

    My first thought: It's different for a columnist (even ones wearing a snazzy cowboy hat) versus a beat guy with limited access looking to fill a story and notes every day.

    I see his point, though.
  8. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    This will sound stupid, but one thing that I swear helps with the beat -- especially considering the overcrowding Casty's talking about -- is to look a little different. Not like a rodeo clown, but not the rest of the khaki-and-golf-shirt-and-credential gang. Just a little something that stands you out, so that the players remember -- even if they don't know your name or who you write for -- that you're at least a regular.

    He would never admit it, but I'm sure that's where Tracy's cowboy hat comes in.

    I had giant muttonchop sideburns. Sure, a lot of the meatheads called me Elvis, but they knew who I was to look at me. (Except Raul Mondesi, who asked me to iron his shirt in the middle of my second season on the beat, because he thought I was a clubbie.)

    The moral, kids? Success on the baseball beat depends on your growing a Hitler mustache.
  9. HeinekenMan

    HeinekenMan Active Member

    If a source thinks everything he says is on the record simply because a reporter has a notebook in hand, I think we have a bigger problem. I would say that problem is a general distrust for reporters, and I think that distrust is due, in part, to the media world's tendency to overstep the bounds of fairness to report a story.

    Whether it's some asshole chasing Paris Hilton down the street or a reporter pretending to be best buds with an athlete to gain access hardly matters. Both do a disservice to the perception of the industry.

    That leaves reporters having to overcome those perceptions. Perhaps putting the notebook away will help some. But I tend to think being professional, courteous and considerate do a better job of gaining a person's trust. If you're too chummy with your sources, it puts your objectivity into question.
  10. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    That makes some sense, Jones. Reminds me also of Dick Berggren in NASCAR with his distinctive hat (he had it off briefly while on TV a few weeks back and it was really weird). If you can pull off the unusual lid and make it a trademark, more power to ya.
  11. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    I've been around a lot of years, and I never saw a guy who presumed to give a player batting tips. Not quite sure what Tracy is talking about there.

    The closest thing I saw to that was when Klapisch would tell players about his experiences of playing semi-pro ball, as though pitching on a dirt field in Jersey had something in common with facing the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

    I don't see how Tracy can presume to say who had a good draft immediately afterwards. Who the hell knows?
  12. Babs

    Babs Member

    Well, as far as a distinctive look goes, this is one of many areas where being female helps. That's already taken care of.

    Agree completely with the premise that you need to just chat people up sometimes. Early, middle and late in the season. You'll get different kinds of things each time.
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