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Stupid things to say to readers

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Voodoo Chile, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. Voodoo Chile

    Voodoo Chile Member

    A woman called me this week and gave me a heads up on something she was pretty pissed about that the local school district is doing, so I decided to check it out. Turns out the school district has given all of the principals iPads, which they are using to evaluate teachers. They have a pretty elaborate evaluation system, but this woman thinks it's a waste of money, considering the school district had $2.3 million in budget cuts, then accepted $3.4 million in federal money from this jobs bill.
    The money for the iPads came from a grant, but she's pissed about it.
    Anyway, she called me 8 times this week to give me additional information, and then to critique my story, which she was equally pissed about because she said I didn't accurately portray her objections.
    I actually thought I did a decent job with that, but she continued to berate me for about 10 minutes on the phone, which finally pissed me off as well. Finally she said "You made me look like a raving lunatic," and I responded with "That's how you're coming across."
    I totally regret saying that to a reader, even though it's what I actually felt, and now I can't wait to go to work tomorrow and get my reprimand.
  2. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    The day we stop pandering to one person over and over again will be the day this business can continue to grow.

    That's not directly aimed at you, Voodoo, but there's a lot of stuff at our place that we do to appease 25 people online at the expense of the 150,000 that read the paper that shouldn't be. Every time I hear "waste of resources," I can't help but think all the newfangled stuff is just that.
  3. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    I'd like to know what the lady considers a productive use of resources is. Everyone has a different opinion on how to use what little resources are available. There is never a best idea, and always a bunch of good ideas.
    Plus if it's a grant, there shouldn't be any debate about a waste of funds. The grant money comes from a different source and doesn't affect the school's budget.
  4. 2underpar

    2underpar Active Member

    i asked an alabama fan last year if he was an idiot. I know it's a rhetorical question, but i regretted saying it. Turns out, he really was.
  5. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    I'm willing to bet the money for the iPads came from a dedicated technology fund, from a federal grant or some other source, so can't be used for teachers' raises, painting classrooms, new pens and pencils, ect. As much as the woman wants to believe otherwise, can't be done.

    Best thing to do is just take your medicine and move on.
  6. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Active Member

    HanSenSE probably is right. Certain grants, funds, etc., can't be used for anything else by law. If one of our school districts gets a sinking fund approved by voters, it can't go to salaries, etc. I've looked over sinking fund paperwork that has to be submitted to the state for consideration for the ballot, and it's very, very specific.

    Within the last couple years, the school district where I live carpeted its three high schools' football-soccer fields via bond money. At my daughter's school, they also moved both ball diamonds, the tennis courts and the football practice field, and fenced the field hockey field. At one of the other schools, they built a new football-track-soccer stadium and tennis courts.

    They did this at the time time they were laying off teachers.

    Poor form, yes, but the money can't be criss-crossed.
  7. Bamadog

    Bamadog Well-Known Member

    I would've said the story is correct. If you want an opinion on whether iPads are a worthwhile expense for principals when teachers are getting laid off...well...that's for the editorial page.

    I don't think you're off-base. I think in this line of work, we're so conditioned to give the squeaky wheel the grease. I guess don't feed the trolls fits better here.
  8. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    Better to trust your own judgment than to run around trying to appease every angry phone call you get. If you and your co-workers think something is worthy of a story go after it. If you're only chasing a story because some reader is pissed off, you probably want to take a second look at the value of the story.
  9. CYowSMR

    CYowSMR Member

  10. TimmyP

    TimmyP Member

    I agree 1000 percent. There are times when newspapers screw up and should take the medicine that comes with it.

    But I can remember just as many times when someone would call in with a complaint that was completely off the mark and an editor would placate them and apologize, accepting blame for something that wasn't wrong to start with. Newspapers are everyone's whipping boy because newspaper editors have cultivated that mind-set.

    If I walked into my local grocery store with a ridiculous complaint that was without merit, and ranted and raved about it in an attempt to get an apology, it wouldn't be long before that store manager would tell me to kindly take my business to another store in town.
  11. BitterYoungMatador2

    BitterYoungMatador2 Well-Known Member

    A lot of school districts are using the federal stimulus money to purchase technology that all kids, including economically disadvantaged kids, can use so that it falls under IDEA guidelines, rather than taking the money and bring three new teachers on board that they will have to pay salary and benefits for when the stimulus funding runs out.
  12. SportsDude

    SportsDude Active Member

    I spend 50-percent of my time at work appeasing one school out of 100. This thought goes through my head every night.
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