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Would You Have Written This Story?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Boom_70, Aug 28, 2009.

  1. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Newspaper took link down so I Will have to summarise:

    Last week story hit our local weekly that was supposed o be preview of upcoming football season for local HS. Instead story tuned out to be one that raised an alcohol issue with last years state champion team. Story obviously caused a huge shit storm in the town since few were aware of the incident from last year.

    Writer got the story from this year's Captains
    who told him that they wanted to avoid some of problems from last year. Obviously being a journalist his interest was peaked and captains went on to tell him of a pre season drinking incident that almost tore apart team. Coach handled whatever happened internally and few were aware until article hit.

    Paper was hit was a rash of complaints from the town folk who felt that story should not have been written since it did not provide proper context and that it took away from the accomplishments of last year's team - a year later.

    Cut to this week's column - a lengthy apology from writer that leaves more questions.

    My opinion - I don't think it should have been written. There were just not enough documented facts to support the story.
  2. HackyMcHack

    HackyMcHack Member

    Unless there is a police report, you have to tread VERY carefully, especially with high school kids. If there was no police report, then you generalize with "off-the-field issues" if you do the story at all. Goes back to the old saying, "If you say your mama loves you, then prove it."

    If, however, there was a police report, then it's fair game. Bottom line is, you better have more than a couple of kids' words to go on before writing the story.
  3. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    No pokice report.

    I do know that the story has caused a lot of grief for the Head Coach and also last years players who have parents demanding to know the story
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I can't imagine writing it. Since they won a state title, I can't imagine the team chemistry breakdown was all that great.

    Now, if the coaches covered it up or something, that's different.

    But is sounds more like someone going off half cocked.
  5. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Well, looks back on the previous year often are part of season previews, and can provide background and perspective on the current team and year, so it shouldn't necessarily not be written about.

    But, why wasn't context provided?

    Are you saying this incident was just mentioned, generally, or only in passing, and that's it? If so, then that's not good, especially if it was something previously unreported and/or unknown.

    Did the reporter check things with the coach, and talk to him about it?

    If not, then, no, you can't/shouldn't write about it. If so, then I'd say it would depend on what the coach says and contributes as far as facts, confirmations, disciplinary actions and thoughts on the matter and its impact, whether on certain kids (particularly if those players are key people this year), or on the team as a whole.

    Regardless, though, you would have to be careful and sensitive about it, and probably shouldn't use names unless you speak directly to one of the kids involved/affected by any disciplinary actions or problems.
  6. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Reporter did not talk to the coach.

    As far as context, story made it look like whole team was out of control when in reality it was a one time event with a few players.
  7. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Didn't talk to the coach? Unbelievable.

    There is no way this story should have been written. To do so with no confirmation other than what a few players said is totally ridiculous, incompetent and unprofessional...at the least
  8. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    If there was a police report, I would have handed it over to the cops reporters.

    This isn't an issue of whether it's true, even if it is and you have everyone from the coach to the players to the parents and the school's administration, it's not worth it to write this story.

    If minors are involved, stay as far away from it as possible.
  9. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I disagree with that blanket statement, Mizz.

    If it's an issue that drove a wedge between the players and several are willing to talk about it, it's worth at least REPORTING it further.

    Whether you write it or not is a long way down the road. I hate handing stuff off the news. I hate sports writers being content with the same old, safe stories.

    The issue isn't teens drinking. The issue is it being a divisive force on a football team.

    Still, the chances it would appear in the paper would be very small. But you got to at least pull some threads now and then to see what unravels.
  10. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Not when kids are involved. I have no problem with the story being written. I just think that given the headache that would come with writing it, it wouldn't be by me unless I had the sports editor, the managing editor, the executive editor and the publisher in my corner.

    Stories like this, even if they are perfectly reported, are ones that get people fired, or at the very least in the shithouse.
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    OK, so why would you hand it off to the cops reporters?

    My issue isn't with this story, it's with a tendency of some writers to run from controversial stories as fast as they can.
  12. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    It's a year later and it could not have been that divisive since team went undefeated and won the states.
    Many of players are now off at top notch academic schools.

    Just seems like a cheap shot against a great coach who runs a very clean successful program.

    Seems to me like reporter took advantage of some nave kids excited to go into their senior year. It's not the NFL .
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