Why Columbus Dispatch didn’t use much of Sport Illustrated’s Tressel story

Columbus Dispatch
The SI piece said many more than six Ohio State football players traded or sold memorabilia with local tattoo parlors. “Much of the story was known and previously published by The Dispatch and other news organizations over the past decade,” says Dispatch editor Ben Marrison. “New information in the story generally came either from anonymous sources or ones we deemed questionable. We were uncomfortable using such damaging allegations when we could not judge the veracity of the sources.” He writes:

While we pride ourselves on getting the story correct – and getting it first whenever possible – it was interesting how many of you wrote to compliment us for having the story first – and correct.

“In today’s world of 24/7 ESPN coverage and sports bloggers, The Dispatch was the first media source to break three different articles throughout the day (the original news of [Ohio State football coach Jim] Tressel‘s resignation, the later news that it was ‘encouraged’ by university leadership and, finally, the news of a further investigation of Terrelle Pryor),” one reader wrote in a letter to the editor.

The editor says readers were curious about what went into Dispatch’s Tressel coverage.

As the story unfolded, about 20 reporters, editors, photographers and Web producers were working on the story. We had reporters at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, on campus and in the office working the phones. Some made calls from home.

We established a game plan and executed it as well as we could.

This might surprise you, but our biggest problem was being inundated by national media wanting our reporters to appear on radio or TV to talk about our story, Tressel’s career and our previous reports about problems in the program.

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  • Mark Tatge

    What SI reports isn’t surprising. Nor is the fact that the Dispatch overlooked or ignored it. Dispatch Editor Marrison is constantly thumping his chest about how the Dispatch is a paragon of great journalism and how it does everything to uncover the truth.

    Past record shows something different. The newspaper is in bed with special interests in Columbus. It has a long history of watering down stories, slanting coverage and ignoring certain issues all together. Much of the problem is the publisher who is very hands on when it comes to deciding what gets covered and how it get covered. Yes, the newspaper does some good work – but only on subjects that are not offensive to the publisher or are not contrary to his business interests.

    When I was a senior editor at Forbes Magazine, I was amazed to see how the newspaper ignored covering the publisher’s legal battle to recover a sizable investment made in a gold salvage operation. The gold was recovered but the investors didn’t get the proceeds. The publisher decided to file a lawsuit to find out what happened to the gold. The newspaper allowed the lawsuit to be sealed at the plaintiff’s request. Forbes sued to get the case files reopened. The Dispatch did not object, but why is a newspaper agreeing to the sealing of public records in the first place? These same kinds of conflicts exist today. 

  • Anonymous

    Funny how the Dispatch editor doesn’t mention that the newspaper’s owners have a multi-million advertising contract from Ohio State. Hmmmmm.

  • Anonymous

    Funny how the Dispatch editor doesn’t mention that the newspaper’s owners have a multi-million advertising contract from Ohio State. Hmmmm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.r.nichols Jim Nichols

    The Ohio papers keep pretending the SI story was only about a few more memorabilia-for-ink trades. Anyone who read the story knows that wasn’t at its core — and most likely isn’t why Tressel resigned. A history at two schools of jobs, cars, favors that Tressel allegedly arranged, knew of, or should have known of — that was the story. The Ohio papers & TV stations should’ve known, too. Didn’t their beat reporters see what all the students saw — jocks from poor broken homes in shiny new cars?