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What's A Guy To Do? Help, Please?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Pete Incaviglia, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    So, as many of you know, I was moved off my college beat and into the news section a year ago this month.

    The problem is, several sources and coaches continue to turn to me with tips, news and feature ideas.

    What am I supposed to do? Tell them, "thanks, but I'm no longer on that beat"?

    I mean, some of the stuff I've been handed are serious stories and issues (student-athlete seriously injured in a wreck on Christmas Eve; a high-profile assistant coach quitting; kid diagnosed with terminal illness).

    A coach just emailed today and said "this is a story I think YOU should tell," making it clear he wanted me to know about the tip first.

    And those are just a few examples.

    I've written them all and each time been given the cold shoulder by the guy who replaced me on the beat.

    And when I turn to management before I put pen to paper, they cringe because they know it's a good story that needs to be told and also that the guy who replaced me is going to bitch and moan.

    Thing is, I don't think I should have to apologize nor do I think I should not write good, compelling stories just because "it's not my beat."

    It's not even like I'm calling or emailing sources for this stuff. It's all been unsolicited.

    So, what's a guy to do?

    Any advice or insight is appreciated.
  2. murphyc

    murphyc Well-Known Member

    I would say the third line is the right one. It may not have been your choice, but it's not your beat anymore and doing stories on that beat undermines the guy currently on the beat.
    My main question after reading this is did you tell the beat writer and his editor you were doing these stories? I'm assuming at least it was cleared with the editor.
    Look at it from the opposite perspective. Say you get assigned the college beat and the guy who used to be on the beat is still writing stories because sources evidently trust/know him better than you. Would you be OK with the former beat writer doing that, or would you want that guy to help you out by introducing sources to you, offering you some background, etc.? I would be seriously pissed if the guy no longer on the beat was still doing the stories, and my hunch is you would be too.
  3. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    Murphy, yeah, I cleared it with two editors every time. Most times, the stories went A1 instead of sports.
  4. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    In a day and age where every job in this industry is of the utmost importance - and if I recall correctly, you got a job you enjoyed taken from you and essentially left to beg for table scraps to stay at the shop - I say you write them and you write them well and upstage the guy who doesn't care.

    It seems like you have no relationship with the current beat writer other than being in the same building. Go for the throat. Do the story. Do it well. Earn that job back - or a better one.
  5. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    Start a blog and put it on there, you know, just as a hobby. Tip your replacement off by sending him a link.
  6. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    Interesting problem. I think you must be a heck of a beat writer and should never have been moved, but that's besides the point.
    I think you are doing the right thing and handling it well. These sources gave you the tip and want you to write the stories. Hell, you are doing the paper a favor and also the beat guy. He doesn't need to write it. It is still your newspaper's scoop.
    At any rate, whatever you do will be correct. You seem like the kind of person who reads the situation well and does the right thing.
  7. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    I thought of this actually. I seriously considered it.

    We have language in our collective agreement that states any story you write, which wasn't originally assigned to you or that you didn't originally pitch, must be first offered to our paper, which has first right of refusal.

    So, technically, I could write a story, say "hey ME, do you want this? If not, it's going on my blog." And, if the ME says "no" it's all mine. If he says yes, it's published in our pages. Either way, I win.

    It just takes a lot more work with a lot of seemingly unnecessary hoops to jump through.
  8. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    If it's me, all kinds nefarious things go through my head like feeding the tips to the competition.... Then I get mad at myself for the way my mind works... (Please don't do such a thing)...

    But in the end, I think go with simple honesty. I would find the manager with whom you have the most trusted relationship (this is why everybody should have a 'mentor-type' at work), ask for a brief meeting, and just be completely honest.

    Say you have several great stories being fed to you. You've tried to pass them along to the beat writer, with no luck. You think these stories deserve to be told. Can you write them as features?

    Be matter-of-fact, specific, pleasant and brief.

    If the answer is no, that's just the way it is.

    The blog thing strikes me as incredibly passive-aggressive and generally not a good idea if one still wants employment.
  9. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Two of those were news stories and one was sports.

    Look at it that way.
  10. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member


    Everyone most likely has been in this situation before. If the writer you are offering the story to is so insecure, chickenshit or a dick that he won't accept your help, do it yourself and do it well.

    Your sources aren't going to quit feeding you leads. Your management should be able to figure out what's going on and utilize all resources. They should tell the beat writer to suck up his pride or insecurity and work with you since two possibly could be better than one.

    But if they don't then fuck 'em and do the work yourself, and do it well.
  11. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    Thanks all.

    Today was good because I was in early - had to take my car into the shop.

    I simply said to my ME, "I have a bit of a dilemma. I was passed another breaking story from a source late last night. I did some preliminary work, typing up what he gave me in story form before bed."

    He simply answered "It's yours. Don't worry about it. Get another source and get it on the web."

    So I did.

    If this kind of response from management continues, I have no problem — not even if my "replacement" resents my work.

    It's working with my resentful, grumpy replacement that's the most uncomfortable thing. And, I know he runs to management every time this happens. And I know they'd rather not deal with it.

    I don't blame them.

    I see their position: Good stories must be told; news must be broken. But they also don't want to deal with the office politics initiated by the beat writer.
  12. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Great news, Pete!

    If you ever get bummed out, read this entire thread, which has a very happy ending.


    The way this fella exmediahack handled himself? We can all learn from that.
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