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USA TODAY Sports' Christine Brennan worked with Wagner on the writing of this article.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by inthesuburbs, Aug 1, 2019.

  1. inthesuburbs

    inthesuburbs Member

    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019
    HanSenSE likes this.
  2. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    I mean, Lee Jenkins pretty much wrote LeBron James' "I'm Coming Home," didn't he? And that was just picking a basketball team.

    I think it's more honest to say Brennan worked with Wagner than to say "as told to Lee Jenkins." It's also on a more important subject.

    What Wagner is trying to do is a little broader than simply telling her story; she goes into some detail about the strange environment around Olympic skaters - how young girls and grown men are often in the same social circle - and ways to address that. Then there's the matter of the guy who did it, and that committed suicide earlier this year in the wake of allegations.

    I'd probably prefer it was a story, too. But it's just not where the industry is any more. Hasn't been for some time, honestly. At least it's a very important matter.
    wicked and Tweener like this.
  3. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I give kudos to Wagner for her good intentions, and believe she has a point about the mixing of kids and adults that is not only sometimes possible, but also prevalent, within the figure skating world.

    I was happy to read that she went to U.S. Figure Skating with her thoughts and her good points about what helped prompt her bad experience, and any possible ways to do what can be done to stop future abuse. I'm not sure, however, that going public with her personal experience, particularly so long after it occurred, was the best thing to do.

    The fact is, her special talent and abilities were exactly what defined the people who surrounded her. That is pretty much the premise of the Olympics, and kids who are involved in them, or the pursuit of them, in fact, are not just kids, and cannot just be kids -- not in any normal sense of the concept, anyway. They and their talents are extraordinary. That's why they're on the Olympics' radar, in their circle, at all.

    It's a very small, exclusive circle.
  4. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    As far as Brennan kind of ghost-writing this story instead of just doing her own article on it, it's just yet another indication of the sea changes that have gone on recently within journalism. The lines of separation continue to become more and more blurred, and this is just another way in which it is occurring.

    Add this instance to things like citizen journalism, little-regulated/edited blogs that can be done by anyone; anyone being, or being used as, an expert; the increasing involvement of Joe Public and the greater reliance on him by media outlets for stories; and the greater emphasis on first-person reporting/writing, and you've got clear evidence of a groundswell of basic changes in journalistic reporting and writing.
  5. inthesuburbs

    inthesuburbs Member

    If there were an article, instead of a ghostwritten statement, we might find out information such as:

    -- Had they had any prior interactions or conversation?

    -- What exactly does she say he did? (The piece begins by calling it sexual assault, but doesn't establish that it was sexual assault. Touched her where, how? What was the law in Colorado then?) Presumably if he had done any of the things that would have qualified as sexual assault, any sexual contact at all, she would have mentioned them.

    -- Was a 17-year-old considered a minor in Colorado in that year?

    -- Does she have qualms about choosing not to talk to him, and choosing not to tell anyone else, and then years later telling everyone and naming him -- after he committed suicide? In other words, what does she think about accusing someone who can't defend himself or even tell us whether he remembers the events differently, or remembers events that she left out, or has a different take on what happened.

    -- What reaction did she have to his suicide?

    -- Were Coughlin and Wagner even on that trip to Colorado at the same time? What do others at the party remember? (It appears that no basic vetting was done at all. That's something you give up by letting one person write the story about themselves for a news organization. As happened in the Franken case, where advocates posted an unvetted statement. The New Yorker recently reported that everything that accuser has said turns out not to be true. There are other accusers in the Franken case, but the one that kicked it off has crumbled under scrutiny. Here there's no chance for a guy who's dead to respond at all.)
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019
  6. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    All fair thoughts. I just don’t think that’s the kind of story it ever works have been. Wagner was gonna tell it on her broad terms and, since the guy is dead - and was facing allegations of this kind when he committed suicide - I don’t think the standard of proof, journalistically, is the same.
  7. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I find it hard to believe that there wasn't someone else at the paper with less of a "name" who could have "helped with the writing," with Brennan's blessing. I agree with all the prior points about lines being blurred in journalism and all, but having her name on the piece just flies a little too close to the sun for me.
    Joe Williams and BurnsWhenIPee like this.
  8. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Not only do I not see anything wrong with it-- to the contrary, I like it.

    Brennan helped this young woman edit and craft a powerful piece of writing.

    Journalism is changing. We must adapt. Brennan shows her chops as an editor, which is good for her.

    A better piece came out of it, which is good for everybody.

    USA Today acknowledged it.

    Win, win, win, in my view.
  9. inthesuburbs

    inthesuburbs Member

    Win, win, win -- you know, except for accusing someone who can't defend himself. Not a win for him. Or for those of us who believe in the values of fairness and presumption of innocence. (The standard of proof is higher, not lower, because he's dead.)

    Win, win, win -- except for using a broad damning term like sexual assault without asking the questions that would give the readers any clue whether it's true. Or for those of us who believe in the values of accuracy, or confirming or testing accusations.

    So much winning.
  10. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Brennan might have helped it be a powerful, better piece of writing than it might have been otherwise, but really, it should have been even better still. The points/questions that inthesuburbs brings up are very valid, and beg for answers. The basic problem with it, of course, is the giving/doing of the story "on her own terms."

    That includes the bad feeling I have that if Coughlin were still alive, this story wouldn't have been done at all.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019
    inthesuburbs likes this.
  11. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Any outlet who wants to question or ask those questions sure can.
  12. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    I think you're confusing journalism with a court of law. Happens a lot.
    2muchcoffeeman and BrendaStarr like this.
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