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The art of writing stories when you don't know crucial details

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by sirvaliantbrown, Apr 5, 2008.

  1. http://www.thestar.com/Hockey/article/410553

    This is a Toronto Star story about a "ticket scandal" that has "rocked" Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the company which owns the Leafs and Raptors. Except...the reporter very obviously has absolutely no idea what the ticket scandal actually entails.

    A senior executive at Maple Leafs' parent company Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment has resigned and five other employees have been fired after the company learned of ticket irregularities.

    Jim Edmands, Maple Leaf Sports director of sales and service, resigned from the sports holding company, "even though he did nothing wrong," the company's executive vice-president and chief operating officer, Tom Anselmi, confirmed to the Star yesterday.


    Anselmi said the firm discovered irregularities in its ticketing department last week.

    "Jimmy stepped up and resigned," Anselmi said. "He said he couldn't continue because it happened under his watch. It's been a shock to the whole organization.

    "We're all disappointed. We have 500 really good people working here and few people who aren't."

    Edmands, 42, worked for MLSE about nine years, Anselmi said. Edmands declined to comment.

    Anselmi said ticket-sales executive John Jones and four other employees in the department had been fired "for conduct that wasn't in keeping with what we hold important as a company."

    Jones couldn't be reached for comment.


    When you don't know the crucial things, do you write the story at all? If you do, do you make it clear, very high up, that the guy was "fired after the company learned of ticket irregularities, the specifics of which are not yet known"? (Or something like that?)

    What frustrated me about this story is that, given the "Ticket scandal rocks MLSE" headline, there seems to be an implied promise that this story will reveal things about the supposed scandal. And you keep reading and reading, and you don't find out what happened, and then you get mad at the reporter, because it seems like he's trying to hide the fact that he doesn't know what happened.

    Your thoughts?
  2. Yes, you write the story and yes, you state it pretty high that no one will say exactly what the scandal is.
  3. beardpuller

    beardpuller Active Member

    I agree with write-brained, but ... I'm hardly Woodward and/or Bernstein; still, in a gossipy market like Toronto, with so many people who work for Maple Leaf Gardens, you can't get somebody to give ya a hint? You can't find somebody willing to specify, not for attribution, that we're talking about scalping tickets, or giving away tickets, or exchanging tickets for sexual favors, or bartering tickets for Tim Horton's donuts? Strange.
  4. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member

    I don't know anything about the situation, but maybe they felt they were on the cusp of pulling it all together and getting it on the record, so they simply wanted to get something into print without tipping their hand too much. I've been in that situation before, where I held back some stuff I had for my first day story to buy myself another day to flesh things out in the second day story.
  5. EE94

    EE94 Guest

    I suspect that story was lawyered down to the bare minimum.

    I too was surprised at the word "scandal" in the headline, because it implied something untoward

    I guy being fired for irregularities could have been his department mistakenly under-charged (or something like that) and cost the company money.

    So he was fired for being bad at his job

    My guess is the reporter knows more about the story, but at the moment can't print it because unproven allegations could be considered defamatory to the guy who was fired.

    that the story contained a reference to a previous ticket-scalping conviction provides the only clue to what the "irregularities" likely were.
  6. mdpoppy

    mdpoppy Member

    Ditto on the headline ... story is fine, but I would've been more conservative on the headline.
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