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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday Links (5/19)

Just a few links for a Tuesday...

-- Dr. Saturday points out the most glaring problem with moving the WLOCP to the Georgia Dome in his latest post.

-- The Florida front office wants the game to stay in Jacksonville for financial reasons.

-- Georgia is still waiting on three more signees to qualify, but the rest of the class appears good to go.

-- The Dawgs have added another piece to their 2010 schedule by adding Louisiana-Lafayette.

-- Of course, with LSU looking to add some local cupcakes, it sounds like UL-L might soon be a tough get.

-- Matthew Stafford sounds pretty enthusiastic about winning the starting QB job in Detroit.

-- With the recent news that Jim Donnan is headed to the Hall of Fame, Tony Barnhart makes his case for why the same treatment should be given to Erk Russell. I got an email from a reader, Frank, the other day that asked for a comparison of Erk's record vs. Vince Dooley's record with Erk on staff and without him on staff. Here's the breakdown, as best as I could calculate: Russell w/o Dooley 83-22-1 (.788) with three National Championships, Dooley w/o Russell 71-21-4 (.760) with no NCs, Dooley & Russell together 130-56-6 (.693) with 1 NC. I couldn't find Russell's career record as head coach at Grady High School, but he won state titles there in '53 and '57.

UPDATE: Courtesy of reader Tim D.: "Erk was 42-14-8 (.719) in six seasons at Grady High School. He had no losing seasons during his tenure, 1952 thru 1957."

-- The women's tennis team's quest for a title ended when it fell to Duke in the Final Four. I'm hoping Syracuse's lacrosse team gets a measure of revenge for you against the Dukies in the LaX Final Four.

-- The Lady Dogs are adding a player who will enter Georgia as possibly the most decorated high school athlete since Herschel Walker.

-- David Perno talks with 960 the Ref as the Diamond Dogs prepare for the SEC tournament.

-- And finally, I wanted to end with this because, for the better part of a week, I've been wondering how to handle it, and in the end, I figured it's probably best to just ask you. I've had a number of people email me asking why Georgia broadcaster Jeff Dantzler has not been doing Diamond Dogs broadcasts for the past few weeks. As Eye On Sports Media reported, along with the Oconee paper, Dantzler has been removed from broadcasts following an arrest on charges of driving under the influence.

First off, I caution that this is simply an arrest, which is much different than a conviction, so we should not jump to any conclusions on our own. That said, as Eye on Sports pointed out and many of you that emailed asked, this was a story that was roundly ignored by virtually every news outlet covering Georgia. Similarly, the Red & Black was the only paper to largely cover Kelin Johnson's arrest on DUI charges last month. The question is... why?

The simple answer is this: There is a difference, legally, between a public figure and a private figure, and it is generally not considered within the ethical boundaries of a newspaper to publicize (beyond simple arrest reports, which many papers do run) the legal troubles of private citizens unless the crime is something sensational itself (such as the recent triple homicide in Athens).

At the Telegraph, we ran a breif story on Johnson's arrest the day after it happened. This was an editorial decision in which we concluded, because Johnson was still working for the school and was on-air via UGA's athletic coverage on the Web, he was indeed a public figure that warranted mention. In Dantzler's case, I simply was not aware of the arrest until several days after it happened, but my guess is that we would have handled this similarly. I know there are sports editors who disagree, and I can see their point.

The truth is, if something similar happened to me, I would expect disciplinary action from my employer, but I would be pretty upset to see the information end up in the paper. I would in no way consider myself a public figure, despite the fact that I do hold a job which puts my work in view of a relatively large number of people. So why should Johnson, a former player, and Dantzler, a private citizen who just happens to earn a living with his voice, be treated differently?

I'm sure there are good arguments to be made as to why that is, and likely a few arguments to be made that any legal trouble I might find myself in would end up covered by the media as well. I think my biggest problem, however, is that in all three cases, we earn our livings by covering and commenting on the lives of athletes at Georgia, men and women usually no older than 21 or 22, whose names would surely be in the paper, on TV and drug through the mud by anyone with a soap box, each and every time they make the same mistakes that adults much older and supposedly wiser make every day.

In the end, I still don't know what's best. This is a perfect example, I think, of the kinds of decisions professional journalists are faced with, and the type that as readers, you'll be saddened when there are fewer and fewer true professionals making those decisions. But I'm interested to hear what you have to say. Should the coverage of these two stories have been more widely reported? Or should they have stayed out of the spotlight altogether?


Anonymous said...

That would be one National Championship not three. Maybe three SEC championships

Anonymous said...

Opps, I misread. However, brief is spelled incorrectly.

BulldogBry said...

I understand your points and they are all valid. But at the end of the day, I would guess most of the public has a "do unto others/golden rule" mentality about the press. On the face, it doesn't seem fair to do a story on Johnson, but not Dantzler. Many have the perception (as stated in the article), whether fair or not, that those in the media protect themselves. Now, that has nothing to do with this case, but as we all know, perception is difficult to differentiate from reality.
Johnson's story was sensationalized because of what he did in the police car. Dantzler, well, it sounds like he has bigger problems.

I would classify Dantzler as a public figure because of what he's meant to the university. That's the only reason I think it should have been reported. I truly hope he gets his act together, IF he's really had all those problems.

Anonymous said...

So...did Kelin Johnson lose his gig at UGA with Kelin's Keys?

David Hale said...

Not sure on Kelin... I don't think his case has been heard yet, so it is probably in a holding pattern until a verdict is rendered.

David Hale said...

Oh, and thanks for the comments, guys. I greatly appreciate the input.