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.

  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his MediaGossip.com, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.


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