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When interviewing subject amidst a group, do you ever hold back?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SP7988, Apr 24, 2014.

  1. SP7988

    SP7988 Member

    So earlier this week, I covered a hs sports game. It was between the No. 1 team and defending state champ and the team that has won 9 of the last 12 titles. So it was heavily covered among all the papers in the state.

    After the game, a group of like 6 or 7 reporters were around the winning coach and asking questions. All pretty basic and usual stuff, except I didn't know if I should ask a particular question or not.

    Prior to the game, I did some research and found a really really interesting stat. I wanted to tie this in as my lede and wanted to get the coaches' thought about it. But at same time, I didn't want to out that information so that the other reporters could grab that info for their own articles or even worse, steal it as their lede. So I waited till the rest were finishing the questions, and then asked the coach when it was just me and him one on one.

    Now, I know there are some opportunities where 1-on-1 interview chances are slim to none (i.e. pro sporting events). In these cases, how have you guys handled a situation like this?

    Do you just keep the golden nugget to yourself and try to make it work without a quote, or do you just say "screw it" and just come out with it to get your quote?
  2. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    In game coverage, over a stat, I'd ask the question. Maybe you hang around afterwards and let the horde thin out a bit, but if it's for a gamer, if you need the quote, you should ask the question.

    If you have something NEWSWORTHY that you don't think others have, wait around to get the player or the coach on his own. The way I used to do it, is walk off with the rest of the group and then run back like you're just trying to verify something or you forgot to ask something. Most of the time your competition will barely notice.

    I had my share of PR guys get annoyed when I would hang around for a coach or player after a press conference. They'd say, "Why didn't you ask your question then?" and I'd tell them, I didn't feel the need to let everyone in the room know what story I'm working on. When you do that, especialliy at the pro level, make sure it's something you can get in 1-2 quick questions because they're always being whisked off.

    If you need to actually get the coach alone for more than five minutes, that's fine, but I would try to limit that to when you have something that really merits it. A coach, especially at the major college or pro level will get pissed if you're always the guy hanging around late.

    I did cover one coach who was generally a dick, but was surprisingly good about hanging around after group interviews. Granted, this was probably because he wanted to make sure he was able to defend whichever player had just gotten arrested, but he was the last person I would have expected to be good about that kind of stuff, but in some strange way, he respected you if you had something that no one else did.
  3. TopSpin

    TopSpin Member

    I agree with what Mizzou said.

    To add to Mizzou's comment on hanging around, it doesn't hurt to coordinate in advance with a team media relations staffer, especially if there's a good relationship. A quick text, email, chat before the presser to the effect of, "I really need to chat with X for a quick minute outside of the media scrum." I've found a staffer will accommodate when and where they can based on the relationship.

    The worst they can do is decline and you'll know heading in to ask your question in the scrum.
  4. SP7988

    SP7988 Member

    Both good points. At HS level there is usually a lot more freedom since most coaches love to give their kids attention.

    But surely, in the pros and college could be a lot tougher.
  5. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    Always worked for me. I seem to always get that question in that no one else has asked but waiting and blurting it out really quickly to get that good response. I got burned once by a local college SID who shared a question I had with the competition. That fucker never tried that trick again and I never asked him the tough questions I wanted answered.
  6. SFIND

    SFIND Well-Known Member

    I've done what you've done several times SP at the high school level. Especially when I'm around a bunch of guys that only show up for the "big ones." There's no sense in giving them any story angles or new leads. If you've worked to get that information, they can get that information on their own. Of course their are expections, i.e. tight deadlines.

    On the flip side, I've gotten story ideas and new angles while covering Big State U. or other events based on questions other reporters have asked.
  7. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, ask your best questions for the TV talking heads.
  8. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    You could go either way on this one really. Often times the other papers may not make a run with what you offer up anyway...my default would be to access the situation and look for a 1-on-1 opportunity if I felt it would be available, or if my contact was strong enough, I'd feel comfortable revisiting that with the coach a bit later over the phone, etc.
  9. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Hold back on a sneeze? Sometimes.
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