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Is there is conspiracy theory in the sports department?Posted Wednesday, September 24, 2008, at 3:24 PM
As a professional journalist, I know I might be using that term loosely, there are two things you strive for -- accuracy and fairness.
Nothing drives me crazier when I misspell somebody's name, whether it was my fault (the case most of the time) or when a source tells you the incorrect spelling. Sometimes we are only as good as our source.
I can spell Fougerousse, Karazsia, Bredeweg, Swartzentruber, Vandeventer (big or little D however) and Zschiedrich to name a few, but the names like Holli (Hollie), Nikki, Alli (could be Allie, Alley), Jasmine (Jazmine), Micheala (Mikayla), Chelsie (Chelsea maybe) and even Megan (Meghann) are the one that can really trip you.
Typos are another thing that happens in this business. Even if you are careful and double check, it is easy to list a kid with 9 interceptions instead of 0 under the pressure of deadline. All of us make mistakes, but our are in print to be critiqued.
It goes without saying that the newspaper strives to be fair. Unfortunately some of the things we have to report on are negative, not as many in the sports world, but they have to be covered. We certainly want to give someone a chance to give their side of any given story.
We try our best to cover Bloomfield, Eastern Greene, Linton-Stockton, Shakamak, Union (Dugger) and White River Valley without rose colored glasses. Sometimes where an event is at is more imporant that who is playing, especially working nights with an early deadline.
Travis David and myself have no ties to any of the six communities, although he does live in Linton now, so we are not pulling for "our old school" to beat somebody else.
But I am like anybody else, I do what my boss tells me to do. I want to feed and clothe my family like anyone does.
So needless to say when somebody accused me of not trying to cover one of the teams in our area because of who they were, I couldn't help but be startled.
When I read between the lines of the e-mail, of an nameless person and school she has loyalties toward, I could only deduce it to mean that she was accusing me of one thing -- being part of a conspiracy theory.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is difficult enough to try to get results from coaches in fall and spring, when you can have anywhere from 24 to 31 high school varsity teams competing, and get them typed up and put on the page by 11 p.m.
I don't have the time to try and keep anyone down. When you have that many teams and only two reporters to get all the sports done, there is no time to conspire against anyone or their school or team.
On any given night, we have two people to cover events in person. Because of deadline constraints, often I can only go somewhere and take pictures and then go back to the office to start laying out the sports pages.
That's right, after everything is reported and written, we still have at least a hour's work to finish the pages so our loyal readers can follow events in their local community.
If anyone could sit in this office and see us checking faxes and the e-mail or calling coaches trying to get all the local results each evening, it would be clear that we have no time for conspiracies, real or imagined.
We are not unlike anyone else. We need help and aren't too proud to ask for it on a regular basis. We are certainly not perfect and don't claim to be.
It would be impossible to do our jobs without the help of coaches, athletic directors, school administrators and even parents.
The "get it" people understand we cannot be at every event and we dependent on them to provide results, stats and insights on their games, meets and matches.
To be honest, we don't have the time to baby-sit everyone, provided they will answer their phone or return calls.
The only names, other than Travis, that I will mention is Brent Anderson and Rick Wellington.
When Anderson, now the assistant principal at Shakamak High School, was baseball coach at North Central and I worked at the Sullivan Daily Times, his team was not very good or even competitive one season.
But after every game that I did not attend, he called me. Not many coaches of teams that went 2-23 would be inclined to call.
But he knew it was his job to promote the good things about his players and his program.
Wellington, when he was football and track coach at Linton-Stockton, would be knocking on our office door bright and early (when we were an afternoon paper and work mornings) with stats and results in hand. He went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure the student-athletes got the recognition they deserved.
There are and have been many coaches like those two that I have had the pleasure of working with.
If we are biased, it might be toward coaches that understand the process and go out of their way to make us look good.
But I can honestly say there have been coaches I have never heard from in my seven years of working at the Linton newspaper. But every year, we go out and preview their team before the start of every season, but know it will soon become "out of sight, out of mind."
So all I can say is thank you for the chance to serve your community. If we made a mistake or slighted anyone, it was not on purpose. If you have interesting story ideas about an athlete, fan or coach at your school, don't hesistate to contact us.
But I don't think anyone is going to ask me to me to play of role of Harrison Ford in Patriot Games or Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom anytime soon.
B.J. Hargis is sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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