Pissed. Oh So Pissed.

I need to vent a bit, and it will be to all of you, instead of who I actually would like to vent at.

Part of my job … the non-blogging, non-rugby, not-as-much-fun one … is to deal with media on issues related to my job. Two weeks ago, I had a reporter come in who had clearly not done his homework related to the interview, was 15 minutes late, didn’t bother to call and tell me he and his camera man were running late and then bumbled his way through an interview with one of our bigwigs here.

Seriously … did you just graduate from reporting school?

So, I’m already annoyed with him and the interview’s progressing, with far too many leading questions looking for soundbites (top signs you’re a poor reporter!) and then he latches on to something Mr. Bigwig says. And he won’t let it go. And he’s trying to spin Mr. Bigwig’s completely clean and true statements into something it’s not, to create a juicy story that isn’t there and go after something bigger which we can’t speak on behalf of this different entity (we’re local, the entity is national).

[It should be noted that I have great respect for good journalism, because that is essentially my education and career. That said, I have no respect for news whores and sensationalism.]

He keeps poking and prodding and angling. So for the first time in my career of dealing with the media, I actually stopped an on-camera interview to tell him to back off, that his questions have nothing to do with us and he really needs to stop this line of questioning. So he does. And that’s that. But doing my job, I warn other people that this reporter may follow-up on these questions with them. And it turns out he does …

So now, yesterday, I receive an e-mail that our staff saw his story with our interview footage mixed in with interview with this national entity. And it’s not good. And’s it been picked up by other news stations. Well, actually for us, it’s good because we did our job, but the reporter has turned a non-existent story into a news piece that paints itself in drama, fear and factual errors.

Our staff wants this television news station to know that this story was full of discrepancies and also improperly portrays the national entity. I’m told from on-high that we don’t want to add more fuel to the fire, but that a letter to the news station would be sent pointing out the poor journalism and factual errors. But now I’ve been told that we’re just going to move past it, so we don’t add more attention that it has already received.

I understand this point. But I also strongly feel that this reporter should be told of the errors in his story and his poor journalism.

So I’m just going to sit here pissed off and hope that the Universe is keeping track of this guy’s karma.

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5 Comments

Filed under blondie

5 responses to “Pissed. Oh So Pissed.

  1. Kate

    Hey Blondie,

    Interesting that you were having such a bad day with the media, because Philadelphia Women’s Rugby did too… A weekly paper in Philly printed an article about PWRFC that perpetuated, oh, every single stereotype that has ever been associated with rugby. Here’s a link to the article: http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/view.php?id=13386

    And below is the text of a letter our club president is sending in response. As rugby gains prominence on the national scene, it pays to remember how easily we’re misunderstood.

    Best,
    Kate Pope

    ———-

    To the Editors of the Philadelphia
    Weekly:

    I am writing in response to the article printed today
    (November 15, 2006) about women’s rugby, titled, “Football is For Pussies”.
    Aside from being offensive and perpetuating homophobic stereotypes of
    female athletes, the article was poorly researched and inaccurate on several
    fronts. The author of the article
    generalizes information about Philadelphia Women’s Rugby to fit her thesis which appears to be
    something concerning gender and sexuality or maybe violence in women’s sports –
    I’m not sure, the article seemed to lack a specific focus. When your reporter contacted the team, she
    clearly already had her article written, fished for information and quotes that supported what she had already written, and blatantly ignored the concerns and
    corrections that our team representative presented to her.

    Inaccuracies in the article include basic factual misinformation
    about the sport (there are no “defensive” positions – players in all positions
    play both offense and defense) and greater social inaccuracies portraying our
    team as gay. The article specifically
    calls the team a “queer haven”, saying that two-thirds of the club is gay. We are only a “haven” for athletes, rugby
    players.

    The truth is, we are a group of intelligent, strong,
    independent athletes who fight every day against homophobic stereotypes thrown
    our way because we are competitive athletes.
    As a club we welcome anyone
    who wants to play rugby. Sexuality is
    not an indicator of success in rugby or a qualification for membership in our
    club. As president of the club, I can’t
    tell you what percentage of the team is gay.
    I have no idea. I can tell you
    that 100% my teammates are athletes who sacrifice a great deal of time, money,
    and emotion to play a sport that very few people outside of the rugby community
    understand. Articles like the one you
    printed today only undermine our image as serious athletes and reinforce
    misconceptions about women in sports – making it harder for us to find support in
    the community.

    If your reporter had made an effort to understand women’s
    rugby and our team, we could have given her many ideas for her article that
    would have more accurately reflected our team and our sport. We are the only Division 1 team in the
    Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union and we field a competitive senior side as well
    as a developmental side in competition against teams from across the
    country. She could have written an
    article about the numerous players on our team who train and play on
    select-side teams representing our region and our country in national and
    international level competition. In
    fact, one of our teammates was selected to play on the national team and
    represent Philadelphia and the United States in the Women’s Rugby
    World Cup this past August.

    An article that had been adequately researched would have
    not have painted a picture of rugby as a brutal, violent sport played without protective
    equipment. Rugby
    is a very physical sport, but not violent.
    A little research would have told your reporter that there are more
    serious injuries in football, hockey, and gymnastics than in rugby. Does rugby include hard hits, yes, but we
    spend a lot of time training and perfecting our technique in order to minimize
    injuries. No one likes to get hurt.

    If she wanted to write about diversity, our team and the
    rugby community at large boast a huge diversity of players – racially, economically,
    and professionally. We have players who
    are republicans, democrats, libertarians, conservative Christians, and liberal
    social activists. On our team we have
    players who are doctors, lawyer, teachers, engineers, businesswomen,
    students, artists, personal trainers – the list is as endless and interesting
    as the women it is comprised of. The one thing that we all have in common (and
    the one point that your article got right) is that we all love rugby. Why not write an article about an incredible
    sport that brings together strong, talented, intelligent women from all walks
    of life and unites them with a common goal of competition?

    Or she could have written about our continuing struggle to
    increase awareness and acceptance of this sport that we all love. Many of our members volunteer as coaches for
    local high school and collegiate programs (painting us as a bunch of violent
    bull-dykes has really helped our efforts in developing youth rugby,
    thanks). We serve on committees for our
    local governing board, the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Board, and as referees. Every fall we host the largest women’s rugby
    tournament on the east coast, Pumpkinfest.
    In the spring we host a skills clinic for collegiate players.

    If the goal of the reporter and the Philadelphia Weekly was
    to use homophobia to further marginalize women’s rugby, our team, and a group
    of amazing athletes – congratulations, you just set us back a decade. Prejudice and fear perpetuated by homophobic,
    misogynistic ignorance is something we struggle against every day. Many talented female athletes are never able to realize
    their potential because they are driven out of sports by fear of being viewed
    as queer – those of us who stick it out fight every day to overcome thos stereotypes.
    Philadelphia Women’s Rugby is a haven
    for all female athletes who are misunderstood, misrepresented, and mischaracterized. Our team is not a forum for gender
    expression or sexuality. We are a
    competitive team that wants to be acknowledged for our strength and hardwork,
    and the success we’ve had in competition, not harrassed about our sexuality.

    If you want to write an article about women’s rugby, or
    about our team, let me know. However,
    please don’t manipulate our team image to fit your perceived idea of women in
    sports.

    Sincerely,
    Ginger Stringer
    President
    Philadelphia Women’s Rugby Football Club

  2. Elizabeth

    Wow, that article is incredibly disappointing. You’re right–it looks as if the reporter took every stereotype she’s ever heard about rugby and committed it to paper. Good luck, and hopefully the paper will run your president’s eloquent letter.

  3. Katy

    Both of those media instances fill me with rage, though Kate’s version more so because it touches me directly. How can people call this yellow journalism reporting? What is wrong with people?? As a writer, I am insulted by both of those instances.

    As a rugby player, I am enormously enraged by the representations of us in that article. I feel compelled to write a letter to that woman myself.

  4. Ginger

    Write away. I think it is good to let the Philadelphia Weekly know that they have misrepresented our community completely and that we’re pissed about it. Email addresses for the editorial staff of the Philadelphia Weekly can be found at:
    http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/contact/?this_page=contact.html

    Ginger

  5. Elizabeth

    I actually wrote my own article in response to that sort of piece that was done on one of my teams. The reporter who did the article flat-out asked me why I played a “violent, lesbian” sport. Even though I tried to patient explain that rugby was way, way more than that, the article focused almost exclusively on violence and the sexuality of my teammates.

    Anyway, the article I wrote was an attempt to combat the image the reporter painted in his piece. The paper never ran my story, but if anyone wants to see it, email me (petersenelizabeth@yahoo.com).

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