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The competition

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by 0-fer, Aug 11, 2007.

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  1. 0-fer

    0-fer Member

    Don't know if anyone has talked about this (I didn't find any posts), but I've got a question. Just got my first job out of college, and I've immediately noticed a sense of animosity toward the competition. It's a small town, and frankly I can't even believe there are two papers, but indeed there are. Now I can totally understand the general attitude in the newsroom (some people have been pushed around, had good shots (photogs) screwed up by the competing photogs, etc.), but I'm not really into the whole "These guys are the competition so we don't like them" mindset. I'm sure people out there have experience with this, so my question is, do I really have to dislike my competition? Sometimes I think they do a good job, and while I wouldn't dream of sharing tips or story ideas (not in this grain of sand market, at least), I don't see a problem with chatting and being generally friendly with the guys. Any thoughts?
  2. 0-fer

    0-fer Member

    Thanks buck. It's good to see I'm not the only one still rolling at damn-near 3:30 a.m.
  3. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    I'm not big on that whole giving-the-reporter-from-the-competition-the-cold-shoulder thing, either. If I'm giving someone the cold shoulder it's because I don't like them, not because of whom their employer is.
    No, I wouldn't share story ideas or tips for stories, but I see nothing wrong with casually chatting with somebody during some downtime.
    I'm not big on doing things to promote other papers. No blurbs or stories on local kids making this or that paper's all-star team (even if it is considered the highest honor for a high school athlete in this part of the state). No discussion of where teams are ranked in another paper's polls.
    If a reader wants to know who made another paper's all-star team or where a team is ranked by another paper, they can buy that other paper. If they don't subscribe or they miss that edition, it's not my problem.
    If a reader complains to me about the competition (and sometimes they have, perhaps thinking there's something I can do about it) I just take it as a back-handed complement and tell them their complaints would be more likely to be addressed if they called the other paper.
  4. Flash

    Flash Guest

    Being friends with the other guys helped get me out of one job and into a daily. Break the trend.
  5. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Flash is right.. can only help in the long run...
  6. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Being able to work as hard as possible to beat the competition should have no effect on your personal relationships with them. I believe that's something called professionalism.
  7. Taylee

    Taylee Member

    Our competitor once sent out a memo (yep, I still have a copy of it) and it talked about dealing with our paper. Part read along the lines of: If anyone is caught fraternizing with the staff of COMPETITOR there will be punishment up to and including termination.
    At the time, I think five of our last six hires in the newsroom came from their staff.
    We had fun with that. I'd go out of my way to talk with their guys at events. They were embarassed about the situation.
    It last a year or so before going away.
  8. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member


    I maintain good personal relationships with the folks on the beat, but I am uncomfortable when they seem to want to constantly trade (or fish for) information. I don't think my paper is paying me to develop relationships through hours of spending time with sources so that I will then, in the span of 15 seconds, nullify the value of relationship-building by handing the competition something they don't have.

    Explained that once to a reporter from another paper, a guy I really like and respect. His take puzzled me: "I guess you can be a dick about it if you want."

    I just don't get that.

    Another says "We're all in this together." In a sense, yes, but I don't know any editor that would be happy to know I'm helping to make the beat homogeneous by sharing info with other writers. For one thing, five different notebooks in five different papers shouldn't all read the same. That said, there are times when it's fine (and decent) to help, but only in certain circumstances, and certainly only when there will be reciprocation.

    But being friendly and courteous with the competition? What's wrong with that?
  9. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    We would trade low-level info with our competition at my last stop (i.e. rosters, coaches' phone numbers, maybe a box score here and there). Sometimes there were things we needed from them, and our willingness to trade info just made things easier. Now, of course, we wouldn't trade stories or tips, but being on good terms with the competition can only make your job easier.
  10. I agree with everyone on here. It's worth being social to the ones who are worth it. And there's nothing wrong with being helpful but sharing information is out of the question.

    Which brings up an interesting question: What about the AP?

    Everytime one of their reporters shows up at a story I'm covering, they push me for whatever information I have, like I'm reporting to them. I was once at a crime scene and the AP guy just followed me around while I was doing interviews with victims. I politely tell them to go to hell.

    It's really annoying. They're not our local competition, so to speak, but I'd just as soon prefer them to read my reporting in MY story and then - if they want to use it - attribute it to my paper in their story.
  11. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    A lot of times, your competition can be a big help to you as far as information on how things are done at a certain venue, especially if you're new to the game. I've worked with douchebags and genuinely good people. Some were outgoing and other wouldn't speak to me at all, for no reason I knew.

    But there's no reason to dislike the opposition just because your staff does. Respect the work they do, if it's good, and be civil all the time; it's the golden rule. A lot of times, in my experience, is that if a staff doesn't like their competition, it's because they're bitter and jealous. And you want to network in this business, and being a jerk isn't the way to do that.
  12. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    You can like the people at the other paper and get along with them, but still beat them on coverage and breaking stories. You have to separate yourself personally and tell yourself it's not you against them, but your paper against their paper when it comes to coverage. Even if they do a good job, strive to do a better one than them, you'll still respect them, but you'll feel good that you did a little better than they do. You can like and respect your competition and still out work them.
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