1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Tough situation

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Cosmo, Jul 4, 2016.

  1. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    Had a really tough thing come up today. I work for a golf association and manage our bi-monthly magazine. We do a news and notes section every issue and led our upcoming issue with a meaty note on one of our members who played a big role in his team winning the Division II national title.

    Found out this morning that he was killed in a single car accident. Just brutal news. Talked to him at length for the story and just saw him last week when he played in our Amatuer. We're all pretty crushed. Kid was only 22 and was a really good, fun loving dude.

    Reason I posted on the J board was that our deadline was two weeks ago. Magazine is printed. He's featured prominently in it. The everyday reader doesn't know deadlines. The mag will hit homes next week. How should I handle this as an editor? Go to social media to at least acknowledge what happened and offer condolences? Just never been in this situation.
  2. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    If you have a website you need to address this ASAP. Flood social media.
    Maybe talk to the family and see how they feel? If they're against it publishing, don't let it be delivered. If they see it as a tribute, let it go and in your next issue, the family and the player is the cover.
    You really need to let the family know that this is going to happen so they're not surprised.
    Also, and this is VERY important - you need to go over every inch of copy with a fine tooth comb to make sure there are no half-hearted quotes, anecdotes, jokes or anything referencing life or death in that players' story. If there is one, you pull everything, no questions asked.
    This is a shitty situation. You have to figure out if publishing is going to do more damage in the long run than eating the cost of not publishing this month. If it comes out and people see it as insensitive, it might screw you down the road. Like I said, call the family but let your advertisers know too so they aren't ambushed either.
  3. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    I can relate. One of the magazines I edit published a short blurb about the musician Prince that went to press about a week before he died.

    Readers will be more forgiving than you think. Sure, you might get a few calls and emails, but they'll understand as long as they realize you know he has joined the choir invisible. (Readers love to think they're smarter than publications, but they tend to fold as soon as you tell them, "yes, we know, thanks.")

    I do suggest doing what you mentioned — using social media before the magazine drops and acknowledging what happened. That way, if someone wants to blast you on Facebook or Twitter, you can at least point to that and demonstrate you're aware.

    Something along these lines will serve your needs: "Our August issue includes a story about local golfer Joe Fiveiron leading State University to a national title. Fiveiron died in a car accident on July 4, two weeks after the issue went to press. We want to send our condolences to the Fiveiron family, and acknowledge the timing of our story."
  4. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    What do your bosses think or suggest?
  5. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys. There's no chance of pulling the story. The mags have been printed and are loaded to send out next week. It's a complicated three-state process, and it's completely unfeasible to try to rework it at this point. I think you're right about social media. Get in front. I will find out what my boss has to say when I get back to work Wednesday. The kid's dad is a PGA pro at one of our clubs.
  6. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Does your golf association/magazine have a web site?

    If so, do a follow-up story/addendum to the magazine story there, perhaps the day before, or the day that, the magazine will be delivered, and be sure to explain that it is that. Make sure to include an editor's note/explanation of the situation, as well as the attachment of the latest information to that month's magazine, and the reason it is being done, with dates and deadlines referenced as needed.
  7. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Active Member

    Can you print out a separate insert to go into the magazine? Even a "letter" on 8.5x11 paper stuck inside each magazine that explains the situation, maybe refers to a story on your web site, would be appropriate.
  8. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    Would love to do that but the magazine has already been loaded on trucks up at the printer. I really appreciate all the advice. Write Thinking's suggestion is a good one. Another one I just now thought of: We send out a weekly newsletter on Wednesdays, which would go out before the magazine hits mailboxes. I could put a note in there about what happened, explaining the situation, offering our condolences as an organization, and tipping people off to the story upcoming in the magazine. This has been the toughest thing for me to adjust to going from newspapers to magazines ... the turnaround time has so much lag because of all of the production and mailing nuances.
  9. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Those are exactly the right venues for addressing it.

    From what I understand of your original note, while the subject is a prominent regional personality, it wasn't as if he was your cover story or a single-subject issue. Things happen, stories change and, yes, people die between going to press and delivery to home — it happens more often than most folks realize, especially with magazines, which have longer lead times than newspapers.

    While some of the suggestions -- pulping the press run, inserting pages, adding sticky notes, etc. -- had their hearts in a good place, those solutions are nearly impossible, highly impractical and definitely cost-prohibitive ... particularly after the press run.

    I can explain the mechanics more deeply if anyone is interested, but suffice it to say those solutions involve either throwing away all of the previously printed magazines and ordering an entirely new press run, or "unbinding" all of the magazines — physically ripping out the staples (if it's saddlestitched) or cutting away the spine and the glue (if it's perfect-bound) — and inserting the new material, and rebinding. Which would add at least another week before the magazines are delivered to the post office for mailing — which would piss off advertisers who expect a full two months (if you're a bi-monthly) of exposure — and would probably cost just as much as a new press run. And that's assuming the magazines are still sitting in the warehouse, waiting to be shipped, and still can be retrieved.

    This isn't on the magnitude of "Dewey defeats Truman." Readers suck, but give them credit. Most of them will understand. His parents will understand. And you've covered your bases by acknowledging online what happened after press time.

    Don't fret about it further. Do your due diligence and keep moving forward.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  10. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    No advice here, tough situation. The accident was at the entrance to the subdivision I lived in during my Richmond days. A fancy brick wall on both sides and he hit one of them - yards away from his house.
  11. canucklehead

    canucklehead Member

    Do this along with notices on all social media you use.
  12. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    In addition to what reformedhack said, I'd say a note about it in the next issue (for the benefit of those who don't use social media) would be warranted -- then again, if they're that into golf, they'd probably know already.
    Doc Holliday likes this.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page