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Stories you wish you had back

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by friend of the friendless, Mar 22, 2008.

  1. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Sirs, Madames,

    I guess this is the devil's-advocate version of five stories you wish you had written. If you had a do-over (or five) which stories would you re-write and slip back into your clippings file. Always humble, I am doubly humble when I look back on:

    1. Presentling Alexei Yashin as the paragon of generosity when he made a seven-figure charitable donation to the national arts centre in Ottawa. Of course, it turned out to be a fraction of that and based on the condition that they give his mother a job there. It fell apart but not before I joined the trumpet section.

    2. A piece on a seven-foot Russian high school kid who was much touted as a college or even pro prospect (showing up in NBA mock drafts even). Big enough that he should show up on Google Earth and there's still no finding him.

    3. A piece on the Mississauga Ice Dogs which was nine-tenths correct--the ultimate Don Cherry-has-no-clothes piece with the worst team in Canadian junior-hockey history. I said the coach, a guy named Jim Hulton, was over his head. He ended up becoming a decent coach. Worse, when I met him, he turned out to be a more than decent guy. He just happened to be at the scene of the crime.

    4. It hasn't even made it into print but the one I'm working on right now. Mentioned on the "stories that break you" thread:

    After saying that I'd never had an experience along these lines, I'm going through it right now. Not heartbreak but hassle. I'm doing a piece for a city mag with a ham-handed editor (first and second mistakes) who under deadline crunch is rewriting my copy on the fly and even inserting factual errors into said piece. Worse, it's a story about an agent who represents a high school buddy's kid who is a shit-hot prospect (mistakes three and four). I already bailed out on writing for this mag under its new stewardship once -- I was approached to write a piece, as the editor suggested on "John Tavares as the new Sidney Crosby" which I reassured her would happen (and be about as credible) when someone from their esteemed rag wrote the "friend of the friendless is the new Faulkner" feature. Anyway, it's a time-consuming disaster. I've already had the this-is-how-we-write-for-the-mag speech ... which is doubly rich since I wrote for it and won awards for features when the editor was in grade school. Stories that break you are those when you're writing against an editor.

    YD&OHS, etc
  2. brettwatson

    brettwatson Active Member

    "Stories you wish you had back"
    -- The new slogan for ESPN.com when seemingly half of their so-called scoops turn out to be wrong.
  3. Huggy

    Huggy Well-Known Member

    Mr. Friend O',

    Is that Russian hoopster the kid from Milton or Oakville (can't recall which one)?

    Good call on Jim Hulton, a good coach and damn good guy who had the misfortune of working for two of the worst organizations in the OHL (although Missy/Niagara has come light years since he was the coach there).
  4. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Huggy,

    Yes, Oakville, and yes, Hulton is both.

    YD&OHS, etc
  5. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    I remember feeling pretty stupid about writing about Jimmy Rollins being the next big thing. I had him destined to become the mayor of Philadelphia. He was batting .321 when I wrote the story, .222 when it came out.

    At least he's turned out all right.

    Now, it's Adam Scott who's making me look like the worst prognosticator in the world. My hatred of Tigger might have clouded my judgment on that one.

    I also wrote once that Charles Howell III "golfs like a teenager fucks" and suggested he would never do anything on tour. He won the week the story came out.
  6. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    The column I wish I never wrote was one in which I outright accused someone of being a crook when he was never formally charged with a crime.

    Thank the fates that I still haven't heard from the guy, but he's allegedly on the lam.
  7. The NBA wants Ivan Chiriaev. The NBA needs Ivan Chiriaev.
  8. I've done a couple of features lauding guys who, days later. got kicked off the team or got into legal shit--one of each.

    Any number of features on my primary beat where I wanted to make those extra calls or do that extra research but just didn't have the time because of other responsibilities.
  9. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    At my shop, I'm *always* in the same boat. It's maddening as hell.
  10. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    Reading my stories after the fact, I want every one of them back, because I know there's something I could have changed to make it better.
    But the scenarios that I've heard here? Nothing I wrote goes into that category, which either means I'm pretty good at what I do or they don't trust me with anything serious.
  11. Appgrad05

    Appgrad05 Active Member

    Story about a 8th-grade basketball star. Kid was selling out middle school gyms, and everyone was talking about him at the high school games. I go out a few times, realize he's legit and start asking around.
    Ended up writing a fairly lengthy story about the kid, his parents and, essentially, what makes him the next big basketball player in an area that produced two superstars a generation ago and nothing since.
    I hate the first five inches. Detest them. I remember not having a real idea of what the lede should be and just going with what I thought might work. It did not.
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