When I saw Jackie Christensen at the baseball TOCs (which Nick’s team won, wrapping up a 20-0 season – amazing), I thanked him for having more coverage of the softball TOCs this year. He was quite gracious.
But then he wrote this column.
He says, “As the reporter responsible for every ounce of coverage for the TOCs this week, let me try to help you understand how the world of sports journalism works. In other words – something I’m sure you can more easily relate to – let me tell you how to improve your son or daughter’s chances of getting his or her picture or name printed in the paper.”
Starting to sound a bit condescending – sure, I like my kids in the paper, but more importantly, I like seeing the hard work and achievements of all the kids represented. Maybe he’s being funny, though. Trying to be funny, anyway. But then I get to this:
“You see, the process of morphing a community sports event into photos and/or print in our daily section is a rather simple one. It may seem to be a mystifying system that cannot be easily understood by the average commoner, but alas, in reality, such is not the case.”
The “average commoner”?! That’s straight out insulting, no question.
Of course, I’m one of these softball moms he references, but I’m also the Scene Editor for the Eye, so I’m reacting to this column from a couple different perspectives.
As a mom, I’m insulted by the condescension; as an editor/journalist, I’m agreeing with some of his statements, but only to a point.
For example: “Step one: A newsworthy event must take place. Step two: Someone must tell our sports department.? Substitute “entertainment” for news and that’s my world. I’ve often complained about people throwing an event and notifying us too late or not at all.
Then Jackie says, “…as is the case for all local reporters, I rely on the general public to supply me information to print, without that information, I have nothing to print…” Now maybe things are different in the sports world, and certainly having people provide info makes a journalist’s job easier, but I still feel like it’s ultimately my responsibility to know what’s going on in the community. The softball TOCs are not some secretive, under the radar event. You drive right by them to get to Redwood Fields where the boys play. They happen every year.
It’s not inconceivable that a reporter/photographer could stop by, take some shots (as the ER did), get some names and take 10 minutes to track down the person in charge to get a phone number or email and ask for the results to be sent in. Sure, the softball folks are just getting the hang of putting on the tournament and don’t hand-deliver a gift-wrapped package to the papers, but it’s not unreasonable that at some point a sports editor might put forth a bit of effort – without being put out about it. If we can do it at the Eye, I would think the ER could manage this. Even without the results, a 15-minute investment could yield some photos and quotes from parents or players. A parent could be handed a business card and asked to email results. I’m sure plenty would be happy to do it.
And as he says, although “We, here at The Eureka Reporter sports department, prefer to get our information from people in charge such as coaches or league/organization presidents because the information is generally less biased, but beggars can’t be choosers.” (Not that I ever would’ve labeled the ER folks as “beggars”!)
So by this point, I’m really irate and his grand finale – “If the information phoned or e-mailed in is determined to be newsworthy, take my word for it, it will be printed. And, as I’m sure you have witnessed over time, we’re not very picky. Of course, if you wanted to save yourself some time instead of reading this column, you could always just reference the yellow banner across the bottom of this page that has been there for more than a year” – leaves me that way.
“We’re not very picky”? “Read the banner”?
Again, while I am sympathetic to a point, this is not how one goes about establishing useful dialogue with the community.
The day the column appeared (last Friday), I showed up at KSLG stomping mad. It was suggested that I call Jackie Christensen for an on-air interview regarding the matter. Before I got that far, a stomach-churning news item showed up on CNN and completely overwhelmed my feelings on the TOC coverage column. Now days have passed without my even writing a letter to the editor. So here I am, venting on my blog and wondering if I can somehow get the info about this weekend’s softball all-stars TOC to him in time.