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When does this become a story?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Batman, Aug 1, 2006.

  1. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    We're doing a story on the opening of high school football practice, and this private school coach is talking about this great transfer he's hoping to get in. He won't let on who it is until it's final, but I find out later it's a guy from one of the big public schools who was a fairly marginal player. Maybe a starter, but certainly not a superstar. At what point does the "player transferring" thing become either a story or a non-story on the high school level? Obviously a star player would be news, but is your standard "Johnny Tailback moves on" even newsworthy?
  2. busuncle

    busuncle Member

  3. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    It might be a good story to see why private school coach thinks this kid is going to be a difference maker for him, and maybe a decent feature on the kid who is causing all the talk, particularly since you could probably get people who doubt Johnny Tailback will ever be anything more than average.

    If you're hard core on that school's beat, you do a story. If it's just another school of a bunch, maybe it is best served with a brief, or leaving it and filing it for future reference.
  4. I agree. But this kid might turn out to be a "superstar" in the private school league because the competition is weaker. I've seen it happen before. A kid can't really cut it in the public school league because of the talent, but has enough talent to dominate in a private school league, which in my experience has weaker competition. I hope I'm making sense. I don't think it's worth a full-blown feature, but it could be a short 12-15 inch thing in a tab format. But it certainly doesn't deserve a centerpiece treatment if the kid is a marginal public school player.
  5. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I could see using that as the impetus for a little enterprise story on "how good is private school football here, anyway?" Based on this example, maybe not so good.

    And it would always be a chance to run the readers through your state's transfer/eligibility rules.
  6. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Some good ideas here. I appreciate it. One of the problems I'm having with it is how to detail the impact of this kid's transfer -- the coach seems to think it'll be huge, and it should fill a gaping hole at running back on a pretty good team -- without embarrassing him by making it seem like he's a total washout at the public school. He's actually a pretty good-sized athlete who was a starter or contributor in a couple other sports. He should do well in private school and might do well at a smaller public school.
    We're doing regular training camp updates on our teams, so I'll probably end up tying it into the running back angle.

    On the transfer rules, our state has separate public and private school organizations, so there's really no story there. All a kid has to do is enroll at the private school and he's good to go. This particular school gets at least two or three athletes a year from our much larger public schools -- a lot of times, these same types of players who are marginal talents (or failing, or in trouble, or whatever) at the public schools and end up running amok at the private schools.
    That's another thorny issue that I'm curious to ask how people deal with. When a kid transfers high schools because he's flunking out or was expelled, and ends up at the private school, how far do you go into it when the story has to be done (i.e., that one athlete that is a star at the public school)? What's a good balance between letting people know the full background of the situation and letting a teenager keep some shred of dignity?
  7. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    So why would someone think a kid transferring to a private school would be a "washout?" Does the private school provide an education? Perhaps a better one in some eyes than the public school?
  8. 85bears

    85bears Member

    It depends on the size of your paper, the coverage focus, etc., etc. At some really local papers, it would probably be a story. At a metro or most suburbans, probably not. We do high school football notebooks at my shop - that might be a good place for this, even a lede note as it's somewhat newsy, but not above-the-fold C1 newsy.
  9. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    A story on recruiting by private schools might be interesting.
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