Sunday, September 14, 2008

The softy

I was watching some broadcast that mentioned journalistic objectivity and it reminded me of a slightly awkward situation I had recently. In hindsight, I'm not sure where to draw the line at bring a reporter versus a human being with feelings.

In the visitor's locker room when Real Salt Lake was in town, I talked first to Robbie Findley (it's always easier to start off with a player one knows a little). Nearby there was a group of reporters around Fabian Espindola, who'd been injured during the game, due to that self-inflicted flip of his. Jaime Cardenas was translating for the English speakers and Fabian.

I ventured over as the group moved on, asking Fabian in Spanish if he would answer a few questions. He agreed.

I asked a couple of questions about the game and the late offside call, and if he had done anything different on the flip than he normally did. Then I tried to ask something that put his injury into a specific context.

"You've been playing so well recently, does that make your injury and the way it was caused even worse?"

I expected something along the lines of, "Yeah, it's bad luck."

I don't know if the full impact of what happened hit Fabian just then, but his face fell and he looked crushed. "I feel terrible," he said. "When I think about how well I was playing and how hard I worked to come back from my earlier injury - I feel like crying."

What a dramatic quote. Suddenly, I realized it wasn't just an emotional statement. Fabian's eyes welled with tears. He tried to blink them back and looked away.

I stood there with my recorder feeling like a schmuck. Should I say something sympathetic? Would that compromise my reporter viewpoint? Would the other reporters notice I'd made a player cry?

I bailed, pretending nothing unusual had happened. "Thanks," I said, moving away to interview someone else as quickly as I could.

Honestly, I felt bad for the guy. But I also felt like I couldn't show that at all. Looking back, though, I wonder if I was being professional, or cold.
Or maybe just wimpy - worried about my rep in the pressbox.

12 comments:

Rudy said...

Would it have compromised your journalistic integrity if you tried to cheer him up by saying, "It's ok, at least you don't play for the Galaxy." ??

Anonymous said...

Very interesting story Andrea. It is stories like these that make me come to the blog time and again. I think that you would not have sacrificed and journalistic objectivity if you had said, "on a personal note, I feel very sorry for you about your injury. I wish you a speedy recovery." After all, we all want to see the best players out on the field for the game. Again, thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I know what you're saying, ac. I'm sure you never imagined in a million years to be in that position, but I mean, what can you do? Right? I guess just next time be ready for something similar.
I agree w/the previous anoy post, stuff like this that you and lb post is worth 10 times the stuff on other blogs. When I'm rich (which will be very soon, I've got big plans) I'm dropping cash on the two of you to just write until your hearts are content, instead of teaching rug rats and flying planes or whatever lb does.

Anonymous said...

I know what you're saying, ac. I'm sure you never imagined in a million years to be in that position, but I mean, what can you do? Right? I guess just next time be ready for something similar.
I agree w/the previous anoy post, stuff like this that you and lb post is worth 10 times the stuff on other blogs. When I'm rich (which will be very soon, I've got big plans) I'm dropping cash on the two of you to just write until your hearts are content, instead of teaching rug rats and flying planes or whatever lb does.

Diane said...

I have a friend that used to cover a lot of media calls for BBC. One took place just after Tony Bennett's mom died. He was coming down the line as charming as ever, but she said that he also looked shell-shocked. She struggled with the same question you did, but when he got to her, "I'm sorry for your loss" just popped out. She was worried that she had stepped over the line, but he looked up and seemed so moved that someone remembered he was human. He greeted my friend with great affection at any ensuing event she covered. She said she was glad she hadn't had enough time to make the decision, because she probably would have opted for professional detachment and lost the chance to make someone feel a little better at what was probably the last place they wanted to be at the time.

Diane said...

p.s. Yes, I love your blog for helping make the world of biz-sport a little more human again.

Jon E said...

Yeah, this is a tough one with some fuzzy boundaries.

My sense, though, is that you wouldn't have been over the line to express a little sympathy. After all, what we call "journalistic objectivity" should simply mean presenting facts accurately and pursuing facts aggressively no matter whom that might embarrass or annoy. The appearance of objectivity is also important, but it's not the same thing, and in this case I don't think you would've been even SEEMING to take sides in some meaningful sports issue by saying, "Sorry, dude, that must be really rough." There's a difference between saying something comforting a politician who just got busted for raiding Medicare and saying it to one whose brother just died. Nobody expects journalists to stay objective on the controversial social issue of dead brothers.

I wonder if you also felt it was a little bit more important that you seem "objective" because you're a woman. Some women I know would've been reluctant to appear too "touchy feely" or "emotional," and maybe not as many guys would have had that worry.

ghostwriter said...

Fine line AC.

Objectivity does not equate with an absence of empathy. In my view, part of every good reporter's necessary repertoire is a finely honed ability to empathize.

In this instance, if you'd have said something that showed you noticed he'd teared up, it might have really embarassed him and have made things worse, not better. Maybe you even sensed some such thing.

Overall, getting outa Dodge and letting him compose himself was not all bad. If you ever get to ask him (off the record), I wouldn't be surprised if he was grateful you took off.

Glad you asked the question though. And glad you're able to put a more human face on that event for us here. Nice to see a guy upset about doing something dumb. Like you say, not what you'd have expected. 99% of all athletes wouldn't have been. Good for him. Now, if he'll just stop with the flips already!

A.C. said...

Yes, I do think I was a bit paranoid about anyone perceiving the situation differently because I'm female.
Plus, there was a split in the pressbox - quite a few reporters thought it was just supremely stupid for Espindola to take the risk of an acrobatic celebration. I'm partial to exuberant displays myself.
Even though my Spanish isn't great, I was the only reporter there who addressed Fabian directly in his native language, without the buffer of translation. It's harder to get emotional about anything when you're waiting on translation.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

a.c., I agree with the first anonymous poster. Being a reporter does not mean being a robot when it comes to other people's pain. It doesn't matter whether you're female or male; empathy is a good trait to have. Using it as a reporter is a matter of personal discernment and discretion; each situation will be different.

I'd rather have a reporter with empathy than one with the hard-ass facade that's so common in the business.

Anonymous said...

i definitely feel for the guy. what a freak accident. remember when van persie had similar post-goal celebration that caused his injury. or the nfl kicker who did same after his field goal.. i think it was grammatica. we do dumb stuff, and we learn. i hope his teammates and staff keep him thinking positive. sounds like he's hard on himself enough.

Anonymous said...

A片,aio,av女優,av,av片,aio交友愛情館,ut聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室,色情聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,080聊天室,視訊聊天室,080苗栗人聊天室,上班族聊天室,成人聊天室,中部人聊天室,一夜情聊天室,情色聊天室,情色視訊,美女視訊,辣妹視訊,視訊交友網,免費視訊聊天,視訊,免費視訊,美女交友,成人交友,聊天室交友,微風論壇,微風成人,sex,成人,情色,情色貼圖,色情,微風,聊天室尋夢園,交友,視訊交友,視訊聊天,視訊辣妹,一夜情,A片,A片

情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,按摩棒,跳蛋,充氣娃娃,情境坊歡愉用品,情趣用品,情人節禮物,情惑用品性易購,A片,視訊聊天室

免費A片,AV女優,美女視訊,情色交友,免費AV,色情網站,辣妹視訊,美女交友,色情影片,成人影片,成人網站,A片,H漫,18成人,成人圖片,成人漫畫,情色網,日本A片,免費A片下載,性愛

A片,色情,成人,做愛,情色文學,A片下載,色情遊戲,色情影片,色情聊天室,情色電影,免費視訊,免費視訊聊天,免費視訊聊天室,一葉情貼圖片區,情色,情色視訊,免費成人影片,視訊交友,視訊聊天,視訊聊天室,言情小說,愛情小說,AIO,AV片,A漫,av dvd,聊天室,自拍,情色論壇,視訊美女,AV成人網,色情A片,SEX,成人論壇

情趣用品,A片,免費A片,AV女優,美女視訊,情趣用品,A片,免費A片,日本A片,A片下載,線上A片,成人電影,嘟嘟成人網,成人,成人貼圖,成人交友,成人圖片,18成人,成人小說,成人圖片區,微風成人區,成人文章,成人影城,情色,情色貼圖,色情聊天室,情色視訊色情網站,一葉情貼圖片區,做愛,性愛,美女視訊,辣妹視訊,視訊聊天室,視訊交友網,免費視訊聊天,美女交友,做愛影片

av,情趣用品,a片,成人電影,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人,成人貼圖,成人交友,成人圖片,18成人,成人小說,成人圖片區,,情色,情色貼圖,色情聊天室,情色視訊,情色文學,色情小說,情色小說,色情,情色電影,aio,av女優,AV,免費A片,日本a片,美女視訊,辣妹視訊,聊天室

情趣用品.A片,情色,情色貼圖,色情聊天室,情色視訊,情色文學,色情小說,情色小說,色情,寄情築園小遊戲,情色電影,色情遊戲,色情網站,聊天室,ut聊天室,豆豆聊天室,美女視訊,辣妹視訊,視訊聊天室,視訊交友網,免費視訊聊天,免費A片,av女優,av,成人電影,成人,成人貼圖,成人交友,成人網站,自拍,尋夢園聊天室