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  • T&FN tackles USATF reorg and election

    I was thrilled to see the latest T&FN cover the USATF board reorganization and touch on the presidential election -- even mentioning Lynn Cannon's explosive accusations against the Board of Directors.

    But the article neglected to quote prez candidate Bob Bowman, who rivaled Lynn at bomb-throwing.

    In his finalsprint podcast/interview, Bob said of the USATF board:

    The majority of that board was troublemakers who sought their own agendas, fought among themselves, mismanaged money, gave away the 2008 and maybe the 2012 Olympic Trials for no money at all to USATF and prevented any real progress in the sport.

    I've never seen it this bad in my 40 years in the sport. The sad part of it is there were good people on the board who were not able to counter much of the bad behavior. They too let the sport down. We need a housecleaning of the board.
    BTW, on Oct. 21, I emailed a questionnaire to USATF presidential candidates Stephanie Hightower, Dee Jensen and Bowman, specifying a Nov. 2 deadline (since I want to post the answers a month ahead of the Reno convention). So far, only Bowman has responded.

    If you know Dee or Stephanie, you might want to remind them of my Q&A, which included these questions:

    5. On the USATF Web site, Board of Director minutes are listed as "coming soon." In fact, board minutes have not been publicly disclosed for years. Will you commit to posting the missing board minutes as well as all future board minutes on usatf.org within two months of the annual meetings?

    6. Did you support the awarding of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Trials to Eugene, Oregon? If so, why did USATF not ask for monetary compensation for these awards? In the case of the 2012 Trials, why weren't other cities invited to bid?

    7. The 2008 Trials featured several events where members of the field were allowed entry under controversial conditions, or denied entry despite having "B" standard marks that in past years would have allowed their entry. As well, a nonfinalist in the javelin was allowed to compete in Beijing. Were these decisions fair? If not, what went wrong, and what changes would you support to prevent them from happening again?
    I wish T&FN asked the hard questions -- instead of hiding behind Jimmie Markham and finalsprint's skirts.

    But T&FN has a conflict of interest: It has to play nice-nice with USATF to protect its TAFNOT tours and preferred seating arrangements. Oh well.

    K E N
    K E N

  • #2
    Re: T&FN tackles USATF reorg and election

    Originally posted by TrackCEO
    I wish T&FN asked the hard questions -- instead of hiding behind Jimmie Markham and finalsprint's skirts.
    Those must be some pretty BIIIIG skirts!! :twisted:
    Is it T&FN's job to 'ask the hard questions' or to 'ascertain the facts'?
    I think it's USATF's job to ask the hard questions.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: T&FN tackles USATF reorg and election

      Originally posted by Marlow
      Is it T&FN's job to 'ask the hard questions' or to 'ascertain the facts'?
      Why not both?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: T&FN tackles USATF reorg and election

        Originally posted by TrackCEO
        ....
        But T&FN has a conflict of interest: It has to play nice-nice with USATF to protect its TAFNOT tours and preferred seating arrangements. Oh well.

        K E N
        Work on your own reporting skills Ken: there is zero link between USATF and our tour business.

        Having said that, T&FN's take on its place in the world from Day 1 has been to tend towards the nice-nice rather than rolling around on the seamy side as you prefer to do.

        We'd like to think we've been much more effective through the years with a honey approach than vinegar.

        If you don't like our style, don't read us. It's that simple.

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        • #5
          it think gh is doing fundamental journalism here...

          it's like reporting the news versus the editorial page..

          they should be clear and separate, and my observation is that's the case with t&fnews..

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by az2004
            it think gh is doing fundamental journalism here...

            it's like reporting the news versus the editorial page..

            they should be clear and separate, and my observation is that's the case with t&fnews..
            There is something called investigative reporting, where someone tries to uncover the facts of unethical or illegal activities. Some of us feel that TFN has been remiss in seemingly never trying to do that despite their inside connections to the sport.

            Comment


            • #7
              "Never"? How about November 1971? May 1991? It's been done but very rarely.

              Forgive us subscribers if we feel some sense of ownership of the magazine. Without us, the magazine doesn't exist. Isn't the customer always right?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mighty Favog
                "...
                Forgive us subscribers if we feel some sense of ownership of the magazine. ......
                My smart-ass response is, do y'all feel any sense of ownership of legal bills racked up by lawsuits?

                Seriously, as noted when this subject has come up repeatedly in the past, we're a small "family" enterprise with limited resources. Limited time, limited funds.... and no lawyers.

                We have no choice but to tread lightly.

                But aside from that pragmatic reality, there's also the matter of "mission." As noted in my first response, we prefer honey to vinegar.

                One prime reason that throughout our history we've had good access to athletes, coaches and administrators is that when we call up we don't get the "omigod it's 60 Minutes!" reaction with people running away as fast as they can. We've forged good working relationships with the people in the sport and we like to keep it that way.

                Not to parse words, but re the citations of November '71 ("Take The Money & Run"; a look at the end of amateursim) and May 1991 ("What if they gave a track meet and nobody came?"), I wouldn't consider either of those as being "investigative journalism."

                They're deep-look analyses of things very much in evidence, if one cares to see them and ask.

                The latest issue has two pieces along this line. The aforementioned USATF restructuring piece and a couple of pages on the NCAA's new Regionals, with "inside" quotes from both sides of the issue I daresay you aren't likely to find anywhere else.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by gh
                  We have no choice but to tread lightly. . . . We've forged good working relationships with the people in the sport and we like to keep it that way.
                  Back in the day, I was a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc.) I joined a year or so after the Arizona Project, when reporters from around the country came to Arizona to finish the work of murdered Arizona Republic Mafia-hunter Don Bolles.

                  At a national IRE conference in the late 1970s, I found myself seated across a table from David Mitchell, editor of the Point Reyes Light, a tiny weekly paper north of San Francisco. The Light had just won a Pulitzer for public service after exposing a drug-rehab group, Synanon, as a violent cult.

                  I was a weekly editor in north San Diego County, and I couldn't resist asking David: "How did you find the time to report on Synanon?" He replied, "We made the time."

                  Synanon filed six libel suits. Mitchell fought them off with a pro bono lawyer. He won because he had facts, evidence and solid reporting to back him up. He did the Synanon stories because his community needed to be warned about a very bad actor in their little community.

                  T&FN's audience is small as well. And as the leading T&F publication in America, it also has a responsibility to follow the story, uncover the truth. Or is all well and good in U.S. track and field?

                  GH equates investigative reporting with slinging mud. In fact, good, solid investigative reporting is just good reporting. And it shines a light.

                  So GH is afraid of hurting feelings or making his track friends worried about his being the second coming of Ed Bradley? Well, that makes T&FN a house organ, not a responsible news publication. He'd prefer that his readers go uninformed about major issues in the sport. Turn off the lights.

                  T&FN does a great job telling us what happened at a meet. But there's more to sports reporting than telling the score.

                  Garry, it's a matter of will.

                  You simply don't have it.

                  K E N
                  K E N

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TrackCEO
                    ....
                    I was a weekly editor in north San Diego County, and I couldn't resist asking David: "How did you find the time to report on Synanon?" He replied, "We made the time."
                    ...

                    Sob! Thank you for helping me see the light. I'm such a friggin' slacker! Working 80-100 hours a week 52 weeks a year just isn't enough. Next Saturday morning I'll start up at 03:00 instead of 04:00, I promise!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TrackCEO
                      as the leading T&F publication in America, it also has a responsibility to follow the story, uncover the truth.
                      Ken, there's where you jumped the tracks (IMO). T&FN's 'responsibility' is to exist. If it were to have a lawsuit, or if it were to lose its willing sources of material, it would dry up and blow away. I wish it were the size of Sports Illustrated with all its resources, but it ain't, and we, the dwindling readership (paradoxically enough, because of places like this) don't want it to disappear.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Marlow
                        Originally posted by TrackCEO
                        as the leading T&F publication in America, it also has a responsibility to follow the story, uncover the truth.
                        Ken, there's where you jumped the tracks (IMO). T&FN's 'responsibility' is to exist. If it were to have a lawsuit, or if it were to lose its willing sources of material, it would dry up and blow away. I wish it were the size of Sports Illustrated with all its resources, but it ain't, and we, the dwindling readership (paradoxically enough, because of places like this) don't want it to disappear.
                        Yeah T&FN does more for the sport doing what it does best rather than jumping off into 'investigative' directions.

                        But I would imagine if they ever did decide to go the route there would be plenty of pro bono help chomping at the bit volunteering to help. I too remember the Synanon story.

                        Now having said that the allegation quotes posted by TrackCEO are pretty serious and sound tailor made for a publication like SI to pursue.
                        Incompetence, corruption, mismanagement and possible cronyism ? Wow... That's the LAST thing our sport needs now in this country.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm with Ken on this one. The law is clearly on the side of the ink-stained wretches in this kind of reporting. These news stories would be one thing I couldn't get anywhere else, or at least that I can't get with any trust of the source. However, I'm not as judgemental about it as he, as there are similar problems of protecting access in topics far more important than track & field; Joe Klein got banned from one of the presidential campaigns for the sin of being too straightforward, and the New York Times was given subtle signals of the same if they pressed too hard for the medical records of that candidate.

                          Where I take offense is being told that if I don't like it to not read the magazine. I'm a 20-year subscriber and been on two tours. I care deeply about the sport and want to address the issues it faces. If you don't want customers like me, I'll be happy to do as you wish.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I've got no dog in this race, but as an avid track fan and as someone who works in the media business, I think I can weigh in on T&FN a bit.

                            The magazine doesn't do investigative work largely because, I suspect, it can't. From my perspective, I don't think it has those kind of reporters and editors on staff. They all know their track and field, but are they trained to ask tough questions and follow leads and connect the dots? I don't think so. They seem more equipped to break down a 10,000 meter race than a money or corruption trail.

                            And as Garry hinted, this probably has plenty to do with resources. The magazine isn't going to shell out six figures to add someone like Tim Layden on staff or the guys who exposed the BALCO case. The magazine just doesn't generate that kind of revenue, and you can blame America's weak appetite for the sport.

                            But I'd also like to see T&FN venture out of its comfort zone once in a while and surprise us readers. Assign a reporter to a special piece that we won't see anywhere else. Use those "connections" that you have and do stories that help make the sport better or at least gain a greater audience. I found T&FN's "who cares" approach to Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery and BALCO to be embarrassing. How about a good post-BALCO piece on those two and others who were implicated? How would that ruin relationships?

                            And please find someone who can write a good feature story. I'd like to see more pieces that don't get too bogged down with the nuances of an event and tells us more about the athlete who participates in the event. The magazine seems overly occupied with giving us recaps of meets that are weeks old by the time the magazine hits the stands. By then, I already know who did what. Less previews, more reviews please. And definitely more in-depth stories.

                            Garry, I think if you took people to task on occasion, it wouldn't ruin your precious role in the sport; it would only gain you greater respect by the people in the sport, and also the readers. Trust me: Track officials and athletes don't have many other options besides your magazine. You almost have a monopoly on the sport. They're not exactly overwhelmed by interview requests. ESPN and SI and the networks only care about them every four years. And the sponsors of those athletes will lean heavily on them to stay visible and relevent and thus keep a solid relationship with T&FN.

                            Just my 2 cents.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Oops, I meant less reviews, more previews. But I'm sure you got the gist.

                              Comment

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