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Useful Concepts and Terms Sports Journalism in the Internet Age Tufts - Ex-College - Fall 2010 Week 7
Measurement • Newspaper stories are measured in inches. • Inches are roughly 25-30 words per inch. • Magazine and online stories have word counts.
Terms • Agate: The box scores, stats, standings, etc. usually on page 2 of a newspaper. • Round-up: A piece briefly recapping a number of games that happened on a given night/week/publishing cycle.
Terms • Notebook: A story containing several small pieces of news that aren’t enough to warrant a complete story • In the Internet age, many of these items would be individual blog posts.
Bulldog • An early edition of a paper or story that isn’t the most up-to-date version. • For example, the Sunday version of the NY Times that comes out Saturday. • A story (usually a related feature) that serves as a placeholder for late games. • If a bulldog isn’t need/the story makes it in by deadline, it’s usually run later or repurposed.
Bulldog • Sports is the section that probably most frequently uses bulldogs because all most events are at night. • East Coast and Midwest papers will have bulldogs for virtually every West Coast game.
Running • A play-by-play story you keep when you’re going to be filing up against deadline. • Runnings can be in chronological or reverse chronological order. • The final score and game-deciding play will be at the top.
Running • Tone for a running will be very straightforward. • No quotes. • Although sometimes you might file a running for first edition, then a running with quotes for second edition if you have a tight deadline.
Fast File • Outlets will have various names for this version. • Usually, it means a quick 50-200 word version of the story to get up on the Web ASAP. • This did not exist three to five years ago.
First • Outlets will have various names for this version. • This is the version that runs without quotes. Your national deadline or outer area version will print first. Often five to 10 minutes after the game ends you’re hitting send.
First • Tone will be straightforward. The only real exception where you can add a little voice might be the lede. • Often this is an extended version of your fast file. Shorter than your final version. • Seven to 10 inches. 300 - 400 words.
Write thru • This is the final version of your story. (The version that runs in the paper.) • Usually you have between 20 minutes and an hour to write this version. • It usually is a refined version of your first/fast file, although can be significantly different.
Write thru • This version has quotes. • For college and professional events, you will often get quotes from the media information people from the post-game press conference/media access. • These are usually condensed, and anything even potentially controversial (meaning a quote you might want) will often scrubbed.
Write thru • This version will have more of a story feel, stronger narrative. • It will be less immediate because it’s understood that it will be read the day after. • This is often referred to as a next-day/day-after version/second-day/day-and-a-half version. • This lede should be more literary/engaging.
Libel • You have to be able to prove not only that the allegations are false… • But that it was published with “actual malice.” • The story was published with the knowledge that it was false. • The story was published with reckless disregard of whether or not it was false. • You have to be able to prove not only that the allegations are false… • Intent is almost impossible to prove.
Libel • Libel is rarely prosecuted. • The First Amendment largely protects the press (which is a good thing), but makes winning libel suits difficult. • There are some differences between libel of private citizens and public individuals, but libel cases are still very hard to win.
Libel • Libel laws vary from country to country. • For example, it’s easier to win/prosecute in the U.K. But you can only prosecute for libel in the country of publication.
Recording • Recommendation: Always tell your subject you’re recording. • That way he/she knows. • You will have consent on tape. • If subject does not want to be recorded, I’d have reservations. • Recording interviews is to protect both of you.
Recording • Laws vary by state. Law applies to the state where the recording is made. • One-party consent • Only one party must consent to the recording. • Some states include New York, New Jersey, Indiana, D.C. • Two-party consent • Both parties must know recording is happening. • Some states include California, Massachusetts, Florida, Illinois.
FOIA • Freedom of Information Act, 1966. • Citizens have right to see government documents. • There are exceptions, doesn’t apply to certain issue of national security, personnel (i.e. why a coach was fired), medical files, etc., but overall, the public can request access to a great deal of government information.
FOIA • You probably will rarely (if ever) need to FOIA anything in sports journalism. • Usually if you are filing a FOIA for sports journalism, it will likely have to do with financial/budget records for a state university. Although budget information is generally already public record.
FOIA • Filing a FOIA is pretty straightforward. • Write a letter to the appropriate agency including the most precise detail possible about the information you are seeking. • They have a set time within which they have to respond. • Can vary by state and agency, but the maximum is 20 days. • If they deny your request, they need to give you a reason why.
FOIA • If you feel your request is unfairly request is rejected, you can file an administrative appeal. • If that’s not successful, you can file a judicial review.
When you might file a FOIA in sports… • To get names of athletes sanctioned by the NCAA, depending on the offense. • Possibly for budget/financial inquires. • You cannot FOIA a private institution. • Usually the threat of filing a FOIA request will get the job done when it comes to sports.
Protecting Sources • Avoid using unnamed sources when at all possible. • There are instances where you might say “a scout,” “a league official,” “sources close to the deal,” but that should be an exception to the norm. • In those cases, identify the source as much as possible. • Readers will question the credibility of an unnamed source.
Protecting Sources • Avoid offering complete confidentiality. • Confer with your editor before ever offering confidentiality. • Make sure your news outlet will back you.
Protecting Sources • If you promise confidentiality to a source, keep it. • You cannot be legally obligated to hand over your notes. • Save notes 90 days, then if no issues arise, destroy/delete/throw away. • You can’t be obligated to have your notes after 90 days.
Protecting Sources • Rarely, you can be subpoenaed to reveal your source. • You can even be held in contempt if you refuse to do so. • If it ever gets to the point where you get thrown in jail for contempt, you’re going to be relatively protected by the First Amendment. • There are various organizations that will help fight on your behalf.