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When an interviewee could be wrong on facts?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by cyclingwriter, Apr 15, 2010.

  1. cyclingwriter

    cyclingwriter Active Member

    I have a general question to see how other people have handled this? I was interviewing an ex-pro football player about his high school days, which was during the end of segregation. Now, I had researched his high school days fairly well and knew what to ask him. However, he remembers things vastly different. And i'm not talking him saying he ran for a 50-yard touchdown and it was realy 45 yards. He basically changed when he transferred school by a year. My records show he switched for his senior year, but he said it was his junior year? Do I trust him or do I write around it ( which I think I can do)?

  2. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Do not trust. Ever.

    "The older I get, the better I was." -- some brilliant T-shirt manufacturer

    Almost nobody I've ever encountered can recall the exact details of the games they played or most other circumstances, particularly going back that far.
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Yeah. If you have it documented, go with that. People are notoriously forgetful or sketchy on details (some are outright liars).

    I don't know how many times a HS coach or AD will say this is the first time that team or school has ever been that far in the playoffs and that gets in the paper and you find out that a team did it just 2-3 years ago.
  4. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    This. If you have the more accurate details, go with that. It's very possible to forget the years (or deliberately "forget" years).
  5. cyclingwriter

    cyclingwriter Active Member

    Thanks guys. However, it makes me question some of the other things he told me as well. I am worried about what to put in there...for example, he told me he remebered the high school band at his black school playing the Jackson Five in the stands, which may be true, but that would have been 1968.
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    68 is a bit early, they started catching on in 69.

    Maybe he was thinking of the Osmonds. They sound a lot alike.
  7. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    Anything from 40 years ago is cause for fact-checking.
  8. ringer

    ringer Member

    All facts are cause for fact-checking.

    I love that cyclingwriter is taking the time to get it right. Huzzah!
  9. MacDaddy

    MacDaddy Active Member

    Thought this was going to be a Joe Morgan thread.
  10. cyclingwriter

    cyclingwriter Active Member

    That is why I am questioning that tidbit a little. Unless the school had a band director who was really hip, it seems unlikely. He played college ball at a predominantly black school as well, and I am wondering if his memory of the band playing the Jackson Five is from then. Like I said, he is being asked to remember something from 40 years ago. Most people ask him about his pro days, and likely he has focused on that in interviews over the years. Actually, I've interviewed him before about his pro career and he gave me a great story with plenty of rich details. He must tell it a lot because I saw almost the same story with the same quotes in a book as well. And since the book came out before my story, I wasn't plagiarized.

    In the end, I am going to write around it.
  11. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    I sounds like you should write around it. Any chance he repeated his junior year and that's where the discrepency is coming from? That's commonplace now but I imagine it was not in the 60s. Just a thought.
  12. cyclingwriter

    cyclingwriter Active Member

    Maybe and he is trying to hide this bad part of his life? That sounds plausible.

    I really think he "rewrote" history for some reason in his head. I found newspaper articles from his senior year that clearly state he was transferring from the black school because of redistricting. Also, he is not in the 1969 yearbook at the white school, which would have been his junior year.

    Out of curiosity, I likely will head to the former black school and pull the yearbook. Not to prove him wrong, just for my own sanity.
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