Assistant Editor Urges Writer To Feature Only One Athlete

26 Apr

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette started in 1786 and is the largest daily newspaper serving metropolitan Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Nicholas Tolomeo is a part-time sports writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He covers various high school sports around the Pittsburgh area. Every week the editor assigns each writer to an area they must cover whether it is North, South, East, or West. The writers must then come up with a story idea that covers a high school sport in the assigned area.

Tolomeo encountered an ethical dilemma about a year ago when an assistant editor was filling in at the sports department and specifically asked for him to write about a particular high school and sport. The assistant editor told Tolomeo to write about swimming at Hampton High School located in Allison Park, Pennsylvania and also told him that it would not hurt to mention a particular athlete on the team.

“I interviewed the athlete and it turns out that it is the assistant editor’s neighbor’s son,” said Tolomeo.

Tolomeo had no idea that the athlete’s family was friends with the assistant editor.

“I reviewed everything in my story and realized that the team had been overlooked in my coverage of the sport,” he adds.

Tolomeo disagreed with the assistant editor to only write about one athlete in particular. As a sports writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette each writer has to fully cover the sport and not just feature one athlete.

In order to cover the sport, Tolomeo called the swimming head coach of Hampton High School but never interviewed her about the athlete in question. The athlete did however come up in the conversation unsolicited and Tolomeo added that particular athlete in the story along with most of his teammates.

 “No one was elevated and this was a story about the team, I let the coach dictate the focus of the story how she saw fit,” said Tolomeo.

In his story Tolomeo did not want to highlight only one swimmer. Tolomeo knew this was wrong even though the assistant editor told him otherwise and urged him to mention one particular athlete.

When Tolomeo submitted the story the assistant editor did not say anything or critique his story. However the assistant editor did reduce the amount of assignments Tolomeo had after that.


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