Hey yâ€™all, itâ€™s the guy who wrote the article again chiming in on all your comments.
My approach to online comments as a writer is like how George Gerswhin locked the doors after his concerts and kept his audiences in because he didnâ€™t care if he loved or hated it but he had to hear your reaction. A lot of times when Iâ€™m writing, I donâ€™t get much reaction, so Iâ€™m just excited to write something that got a reaction.
My response to this is a mix of 90% sheer excitement and gratitude for your agreements and disagreements, about 8% looking at some of your comments with amusement bc you werenâ€™t in my shoes when I was trying to write the article, and 2% annoyance at those guys who chimes in about a single mistake or two. Try writing 2500 words and see if you donâ€™t come up with a mistake or two, jerk.
Also, I'm the guy who sits at the end of the sports bar and bothers the bartender to put on track and field when no one else in the bar cares, and when I talk to fellow bar tenders about how big of a deal Obiri beating Amaya was in the 5K, it's hard to get them excited, so it's kind of cool to be schooled by people who know more than me. If you have complaints about my lack of knowledge in the sport, don't think of me as the foremost expert on it. All I know is that I somehow convinced those guys to pay me to write an article about it and I did the best that I could with it. I don't even know if I'll ever write another track article again. It's not a particularly popular sport and I don't know if ESPN has a window outside of the world championships when a sport is relevant enough to bring in a freelancer.
On the question of using other people's quotes, that kind of goes in the 8% of my total reaction of people who don't understand the constraints I'm under: There are deadlines, there are interview requests that are declined, I almost didn't want to bother Andy Bayer and Ben True because I didn't want to bother them after they might have been devastated having lost a slot to their championships (Bayer was a good sport); there's also the fact that I'm a freelancer I'm not going to book a flight to London and ESPN wouldn't pay my way on a track story and unless you go to London, USATF isn't going to take time out of their busiest time of the year to accommodate a single reporter, there are people I interviewed (Stephen Haas, Coach Wetmore of Colorado) who were cut out of the final article
On the question of not interviewing the athletes: I wasn't given access. To be entirely honest (and I'm going to take some heat for that, so I don't know why I'm admitting it out loud and opening it up for criticism), I'm not a big fan of athlete interviews (I'm not really a sports reporter, I'm mostly local, human interest and TV/film) they're very rote and athletes generally follow scripts more than any other interview subjects. It would have been even worse with army athletes because the military is very, very protective of their soldiers' speech.
Lickety Split, I actually think you're right, I wish I asked those questions, but the military is very restrictive. They initially didn't even want to talk to me at all and had extremely little patience for any journalism towards their program, it took a lot of persistence and convincing that it was in their interest to get their side of the story to get anywhere at all and even then their answers weren't particularly clear and barely had the resources to get me follow-up to my questions. Also, when I asked my questions to the coaches, there was a PR person on the line policing me.
Also, I'm not ashamed to say that hey I didn't know what questions to ask. I kind of wish I knew you and somehow got that advice before I wrote that article. I tried to learn as much as I could in the time I had and I tried quite a few methods of absorbing that information and consulting with people who knew.