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Yesterday's awkward journalism moment of the day

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Jay Sherman, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    A little background: It's the local golf championship for a low-level professional women's golf tournament. A golfer who won Big Break on the Golf Channel a few years back is competing for the championship. She shoots a 2-over-par 74 and drops to the middle of the pack for the tournament on the final day. Also, top 10 on the money list get an LPGA exemption card, and with two tournaments (this one included) left, she is on the outside looking in. A win would've definitely gotten her the card, and a top 10 finish would have helped a lot, as well.

    The awkward moment: I'm doing a feature story on how these girls are only making $10,000 to $25,000 for the year (pre-expenses, like travel, food and entry fees), so they have to find other ways to earn an income. Some work at golf courses, some give golf lessons, most do little odds-and-ends jobs. I know the girl who shot poorly works in the off-season at a major golf retail store.

    Not to seem like a creepy weirdo, I ask her a couple of golf-related questions leading into my questions about how they make little-to-no money and how they manage to stay afloat financially. I ask her if she's glad the tournament is finally over (it was a long, long three days. Rounds were taking upwards of six hours). I can tell she's pretty bummed out because the leader of the tournament is -5 and she started the day -2.

    She says that she's really mad at herself for having a bad round, then her eyes start to well up and she bursts into tears. I feel absolutely awful, especially because I don't even want to ask her these questions, I just want her to not think I'm stalking her. She is very, very cute and has been very approachable throughout the tournament, and I've spoken to her multiple times. I felt so bad, I didn't know whether to hug her or pat her on the shoulder or stand there or take a step back or just take off running. I told her it was OK and to take her time and gather her thoughts, because she kept apologizing.

    I got her mind off it with, go figure, the non-tournament related questions, but man did I feel like crap watching this sweet girl crying uncontrollably because of her final-round frustrations. :-\
  2. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    You didn't touch her arm, did you?
  3. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    No, no touching. She's probably an 8 or so, which made me want to give her a hug, but I wasn't going to be a douchebag or a creep, so I kept my distance.
  4. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    You didn't sit with her on the players' couch, either right?
  5. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    Dude, that's not awkward at all.

    Watching dude's bawl like babies because they lost a game is awkward. Them trying to hug you while they cry is beyond awkward.
  6. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Seriously... only thing you could have done is asked if she needed a moment or if she was OK?
    If SHE hugged you, it was for support and to vent. She'd be reaching out to another person. You not initiating it would have been fine. Anything more would have been untoward.
  7. azmgb

    azmgb New Member

    I had a very similar situation a few years back while covering the NCAA D-2 women's golf championships. Local girl that had been very friendly and approachable throughout the tourney collapses in the final round ... followed by the tears and all that. And I know what you mean, I just kind of stood there thinking, "um, I should probably do something here, but I'm not sure what." Very awkward.
  8. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    yeah it would have been awkward, but also consider the stage. Annika Sorenstam doing it after the U.S. Open to a writer is one thing.
    A kid on a satellite tour watching a chump-change paycheck get smaller because she didn't deliver; having no one else to turn to at the moment... I think you have to consider the circumstances.
    Now, if she'd have hugged and jay hugged back kissing her cheek and stroking her hair... THAT would have been untoward. A spontaneous release of emotion/frustration happens.
  9. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    Are you kidding me? It may be less awkward than your other example, but interviewing an athlete while she cries is DEFINITELY awkward, and I don't know how you can argue otherwise.
  10. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    OK, it's awkward.

    I just think you will deal with much worse the longer you stay in this business, that's all I was saying.
  11. Yeah ... awkward.
  12. I don't see any reason you could'nt have just said "hey, it's alright" and squeezed her arm or patted her on the back.

    What you don't realize is that she knows you witnessed her collapse and you understand it more than most people. You were probably the first person she got to talk about it to. It doesn't make you a creep or a stalker to be human. All you had to do was offer her a little empathy, maybe a sympathetic ear for a moment too rather than a reporter's ear. She's human too, ya know.

    Like Slappy said, consider the stage for the moment. It wasn't a big deal to many, but it was to her. Sometimes reporters need to show we are just as human as everyone else, not robots. When you do this, you will find that your sources will generally become your friend, open up more, and become even better sources for better stories. If you give them a cold shoulder, you can expect little in return.

    Hey, and if she's an 8, you might have even found a good looking friend too.

    Trust me, it's a lot more awkward when groan men cry like babies over a game they've just lost than a young woman. In either case, try to understand their feelings and be sympathetic.
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