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Whitlock hits it out of the park

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Twoback, Jul 20, 2006.

  1. Columbo

    Columbo Active Member


    The percentage of the time I agree with you reads like a low-grade fever, but I don't see eye-to-eye with you here.

    If a kid in the suburbs is succeeding athletically and in school despite losing his dad to a bullet when he was young.... Or if he is one of a dozen siblings... whatever. It would be written. If written well, it can be interesting.

    The "written well" part of it is a major leap, I realize.
  2. armageddon

    armageddon Active Member


    I've done "invasive" stories on both white and black athletes. Regarding the latter group, some of been about athletes from middle to upper-middle class backgrounds. Some have been about kids whose formative years were a living hell because of poverty, crime or whatever.

    Of those stories written about black athletes, both kinds have been well-received in the newsroom and in the community. However, members of the black community were more thankful for the latter.

    And for the record, my boss is black.
  3. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    I've seen these stories, too. White athletes who may have lost a parent or sibling or teammate. Even a few of these kids that had children of their own while they were still in high school. One kid who was recovering from leukemia and returning to play basketball. Not to mention stories about high school kids with academic issues.

    All could be sensitive topics...and invasive.

    Tried to do one on a kid with bulemia once, but she backed out after initially wanting to talk.
  4. PeteyPirate

    PeteyPirate Guest

  5. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Um, we working as sports journalists at this moment in time didn't create a world where there are lots of tragedy in decaying/decayed urban neighborhoods and inconveniences in the suburbs. It's the world as it is. Damn, are we gonna ignore inspiring stories of kids overcoming tragedy cos we're over quota?
  6. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    I'm not saying we shouldn't do those stories. We should.

    I'm saying there are oftentimes when how we portray black kids overcoming adversity is different from how we portray white kids overcoming adversity. It's just different. The story is treated differently.

    Not saying the stories shouldn't be told. They should.
  7. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    I agree. I blame SI for this, too. About 15 years ago, the magazine started treating every profile like "Once Upon A Time In America."

    I don't give a shit if Kevin Johnson got a tack in his ring finger when he was 5. I only want to read about sports in my sports magazine.
  8. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Sorry, folks, maybe my annoyance is just because I've read so many of these things (over lo these many years) that it's a cliche. And are we telling readers something they do not know, that life in the ghetto can be difficult? Oooooooh, I don't think so. So who's it for? The preps writers' clips files, that's who. I covered preps in grungy, medium-size, faded industrial cities. I did not think it was my place to treat it as a trip to the zoo and give readers the mistaken impression that athletes were the lone exceptions among 50,000 fuckups in that part of town because, as it happens, the vast majority of people in poor neighborhoods aren't criminals and somehow manage to avoid "the streets" without bouncing a ball. Also, they are kids who, whether they are astute enough to know it at that age, deserve some privacy.
  9. armageddon

    armageddon Active Member

    What in the hell does that mean? The only time I use the word black or think about the color of someone's skin is when I'm on this board.
  10. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    Frank, don't take this the wrong way.

    Do you pass along these ideas in newsrooms? Do people listen?

    Because I think if I passed along an idea like that, and it was just brushed off and ignored, I'd probably snap and rip out someone's lung.
  11. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    It means: read it again.

    It also means: then start thinking about it.

    Racism is not something you can avoid and it will go away. It's something we have to confront, and *make* it go away. It's not something you can "only think about" on this board, or in any other isolated situation, if you really want this institutional racism to stop.

    Songbird said something earlier to the effect of, "It's 2006 -- why are we still talking about this?" It sounds like you're making a similar point. ... Well, we're still talking about this because it's still an issue. Because if we ignore it, nothing will change. So if we talk about it, maybe it will. Or start to, anyway.
  12. armageddon

    armageddon Active Member

    Frank, again I have to take issue with your stance because the people in the community see it differently.

    At the risk of outing myself, long ago came across (by accident) a female HS hoops player from an urban school. I was taking an early-season box and recognized the name from the stats and started chatting with the coach on the line. Found out the kid had been out most of the previous season because she was pregnant.

    By now she had given birth and was back in school and back on the team and helping raise her child. Fortunately for her she had a great support system and, unlike too many girls her age in similar circumstances, wasn't going to choose to or have to drop out of school. I asked the coach (a black female, if memory serves) if she thought the girl would be interested in telling her story.

    She was; the coach was, too.

    Long story short, most folks at the school and in the community felt the story was one that needed to be told. It was a story of a young girl who didn't want to get pregnant (they did use birth control but screwed up) but after it happened she was determined not to let the child sidetrack her education. (Folks at the school and others felt this case broke the stereotype some whites might have of young black girls being little more than baby machines.)

    I can't even tell you if it was written well it was so long ago and I was a pup. But in my view, and in the view of my bosses, the story was worth telling. And as I said earlier, the readers didn't view the story in the way you seem to. I guess I don't understand how you don't do that story. Unless, of course, the girl tells me she doesn't want it in the paper. If that would have been the case I would not have pursued it.

    Just my thoughts.  
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