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What should I have said?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by mannheimadler, Jul 20, 2007.

  1. mannheimadler

    mannheimadler Member

    A D-I assistant coach who was recently fired called me today after a story ran, claiming that many of his statements (which were vital to the story) were "between you and me."

    Now let me tell you that there were a few statements that were off the record much later than these, and for these (as I always do) I did not take notes of what he said. So there was no way they were mixed in with the notes for the story.

    Today he was fairly angry and said I may have cost him some of his compensation.

    I didn't quite know what to say. I told him I was sorry if there was a misunderstanding and explained which statements I believed had been off the record.

    Still being fairly young and new to a Division I beat, I wasn't sure if I should have handled the situation differently. My editor told me that it wasn't my fault and that I handled it okay, that a D-I coach should know when he's talking to a reporter that if something is not expressly marked as "off the record" that it is open for printing. But I still feel bad.

  2. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    yeah, you can feel bad that he was fired, and you can feel bad he might lose some money.
    However, you didn't put words in his mouth, you didn't misquote him. You did your job. Feel sorry for the person, but you did the right thing with the coach.
  3. joe_schmoe

    joe_schmoe Active Member

    You handled it fine. It's not your job to discern if something he tells you isn't for print if he doesn't say it's not.

    This happened to me with a minor league coach. Thought he never called me out on it, after he was canned, the GM had mentioned he was basically blaming the media for printing some things he said that he thought were just clubhouse BS type stuff. He had mentioned two incidents and one was just a funny quote which I ran becasue it fit, but it made him sound like a prick. The second was him calling out another coach, I ran it as did another paper, so whatever.

    The bottom line is, when someone loses their job (coaches, journalists, whoever), they almost always look to blame some one other than themselves. That's human nature. The media often becomes a scapegoat for coaches.

    Coach, if I have a recorder in your face, or a notepad in my hand, You are on the record. Don't want it printed, don't say it.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    One way to try to avoid such scenes (if you really want to avoid them) would be to recognize the warning signs:

    1. Being recently fired, the guy was probably pissed and more willing to shoot his mouth off than he might realize.

    2. With him hopping on and off the record there is gonna be some question about what is on.

    So, in hindsight, if he has some type of controversial quotes you might want to just run them past him after you are ending the interview.

    Such as, "When you called the AD a pederast, that was off the record. But I can quote you as saying he's a son of a bitch, right?"

    There might be some haggling if he realizes what he actually said, but you can make it very clear about what you plan to use.

    That's if you want to give him the benefit of the doubt. You don't have to.
  5. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    Was the interview conduct in person or over the phone?
  6. mannheimadler

    mannheimadler Member

    Over the phone. But he was aware I was doing a story.
  7. Breakyoself

    Breakyoself Member

    tell him that just because he is bad at his job that he shouldn't bust on you for doing yours well.
  8. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    Yeah, don't question yourself. You did everything right. More than likely, he's just looking for a scapegoat.
  9. mannheimadler

    mannheimadler Member

    Thanks guys. I appreciate the input.
  10. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member


    i don't understand this crap about some stuff being on the record and some stuff off the record that's being thrown out there. you're not talking to a coach as one of your buds, you're talking to them as part of your job.
  11. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    You handled it right. No notes on things off the record. When someone tells me they want to talk off the record. I close my notebook and put my pen away and then I say, "go ahead."
    I'm sure you didn't put anything in the paper that he said was off the record. Don't let him put this guilt trip on you.
  12. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    Exactly. Strictly for his benefit next time, you might want to set rules beforehand, just say, "Everything is on the record, unless we agree otherwise BEFORE you say it." Then stick to your notes, your tape, and your guns. It sounds like you did it right here though.
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