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Story guilt?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by andyouare?, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. andyouare?

    andyouare? Guest

    I did a story a few years back where the coach of a minor league hockey team went off on profanity-laced tirade about the officiating. I mean it would have put the cast of Deadwood to shame. I mentioned it in the story and used some expletive-deleted quotes. A few days later, the coach was fired and the press release mentioned something about him not conforming to the team's image or something.

    Last week, I noticed that he was now the assistant coach of a high school team. An assistant! It was a crappy league anyway, so it's not like he was headed to NHL or something, but, still, I felt a little guilty. It was totally his own fault and he knew who I was when I interviewed him. Still...

    Have you ever done a story that has gotten someone fired/dismissed or into some kind of trouble/embarrassment? How'd you feel afterward?
  2. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Hell, I've known a few writers who were such assholes that they took glee in "getting a coach fired," as if they really had that kind of power. They didn't, of course. It was all ego.

    You did your job. You didn't make the coach be a jerk. Nor did you write a column calling for his firing.

    Besides, almost all pro coaches get fired eventually.
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    yeah, andy. I wouldn't feel guilty about it.

    If the guy was doing a great job, they wouldn't have fired him over cussing about some officials.

    If he was doing a lousy job, they were just looking for a handy excuse.

    If I were the GM or what-have-you and was so upset about the story in the paper that I was going to can the guy over it, I would have at least called you to make sure what was in the paper was a true reflection of what the guy said or something.
  4. andyouare?

    andyouare? Guest

    On a related note, I knew a colleague who went around to every high school baseball team in our area to see if anybody was practicing illegally (you know, practicing when the rules said they weren't supposed to -- which pretty much every team does). He finally found one and did a story on it. The school got in trouble with the state's federation and the coach was later fired.

    The writer got to put a breaking news/investigative news story on his resume, and the coach lost his job. I asked him if he felt guilty and he said, "About what?"

    I guess it depends on the writer. Technically, my colleague did nothing wrong, but, still...
  5. fmrsped

    fmrsped Active Member

    Ace calling andyouare? andy is quite funny to me.
  6. Freelance Hack

    Freelance Hack Active Member

    Technically, your colleague did his job.
  7. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    When I worked in Podunkville I wrote a story about a local bowling alley owner (a former touring pro) who cheapskated his league winners by giving them reconditioned plaques which he had won years ago on the pro circuit. He took the block of wood, scraped off the metal plate with his name and had a new one made for Joe or Jane Bowler, saving whatever $$ over just buying an entirely new plaque. He was busted when someone got a plaque in which the new plate was simply glued over his old plate, but it fell off.

    You know those kind of stories, just a small tale of embarrassment that won't ruin anyone's life but was certainly a good read. Well, I did feel guilty when the bosses put it on 1A as if it was some major crime. The alley owner deserved ridicule but maybe not that much.
  8. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    If they guy went out with the intention of padding his resume by busting someone for somethign that everyone did, it is pretty crappy to single out one guy instead of possibly working harder to make a more complete story that shows that everyone fudges this and how they do it.
  9. Freelance Hack

    Freelance Hack Active Member

    If it's a witch hunt, then yeah, you're right. But andy said the guy went to all the area schools. Hopefully the story explained that. If it didn't, then it was a hack job by the writer and editor.
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    He also says that everyone does it. If he drove around to every school on days they weren't supposed to be practicing and did a story on the first one he found that did, it sucks.

    If he worked at it and this was the only school he found, that's fine. Or if he got a complaint about this particular school it's fine.

    To me, this is not that big of an issue unless kids are being punished (you want to play basketball instead of practice baseball in the off-season, then you won't start, etc.)
  11. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Well, there is also this little matter of coaches cheating by breaking the rules. So much for the idea of the coach as a role model, huh?
  12. Leo Mazzone

    Leo Mazzone Member

    maybe Whitlock and thebiglead should take the floor...
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