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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?


Universal Remonster said...

I personally don't care about those stories because they don't pertain to current UGA players. If they were still on the roster is would be a completely different story.... instead it's just a story that happens thousands of times each day across the country.

Bernie said...

For me, it's not really newsworthy. Unfortunately, there are many editors who disagree and like you said, we can expect to see more of this as the professionalism in the industry goes down.

TMZ merges with Wall St Journal....sensationalism intertwined with relevant topics.

On the other side, if the headlines push the person in a direction of getting help, in the end it might be worth it. But ironically, it's still none of my business.

Anonymous said...

I have a mixed reaction as to whether this should be printed. Dantzler could certainly be considered a local celebrity, people around Dawg Nation know his voice. If Loran Smith were to have done something irresponsible like Dantzler did (which he wouldn't, but were making a hypothetical) would it be newsworthy? Jeff Dantzler toes a fine line between being a private person and a public figure.

Dantzler has his demons and he certainly needs help. DUIs are a frequent occurrence, but they don't necessarily mean a person has a problem with the bottle. Dantzler is a different case. Everyone knows Dantzler wants to act like a 21 year old forever, but he has to realize that he cannot have fun at the expense of his career or innocent drivers. Hopefully, he gets the help he needs.

the anonymous suckup said...


I don't think these types of stories need to be aired or published. We may be curious why Dantzler hasn't been on the air, but is it any of our business? I say it isn't, but I'm sure most will disagree.

I'll even take it a step further. Why do we need to know about the arrests of players? Why is it our business if an athlete (whether college or pro) is arrested? The fact that they are public figures doesn't mean we have the right to know their private business.

It's not like these guys are elected officials - whose legal issues are much more relevant and therefore fair game, in my opinion.

jferg said...

Anon suckup makes a valid point. All "public figures" are not "elected officials". I am trying to think of a public figure whose arrests are my business (other than elected officials). Sure, my nosey self may want to know the dirt sometimes....but is it my right, or anyone's right to know this stuff?
Is there a public figure that I'm not thinking of that we have the "rigth" to know about?

Mike In Valdosta said...

Excellent discussion topic.

Newsworthy is often relative and provincial.

An average person's suspected DUI in Atlanta is not newsworthy to the Atlanta market, not even in blodder format. In a small town, with a local weekly, any visit to the jailhouse through the backdoor are getting printed in the next edition.

Personally, I do not care about Dantzler or Johnson's legal issues outside of wishing them well and being thankful nobody was hurt.

Anonymous said...

I may have misunderstood your meaning, so please correct me if i'm wrong here, but did you say that your paper decided to publish Kelin's arrest because he was an on-air personality with UGA but didn't publish Dantzler's arrest because he is also an on-air personality?

Again, maybe i misunderstood and if so i apologize. I just think if you publish one arrest because he's an on-air personality then you have to follow suit with the other (Dantzler). Just my opinion.

Personally i think its ashame some papers chose to withhold reporting this info. Jeff Dantzler is NOT a private citizen. He hosts a popular radio show on 960 The Ref, he calls Georgia games, he writes for Bulldawg Illustrated, and is a UGA former athlete (like Kelin btw).

If the media is gonna plaster headlines about student athletes (teenagers) getting arrested for anything form expired tags to scooter parking fines, to a DUI then its hard to swallow an essential cover-up of a piece of news. This stinks of hypocrisy.

Again, just an opinion.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for printing this story. It is of the utmost importance! I was hospitalized by a drunk driver and lost a family member. Please, we have to keep drunk drivers off the road at any cost! Thanks

David Hale said...

Sorry if I was unclear: We did not publish anything on Dantzler, but that was simply because I was not aware of the arrest until several days after it happened (mostly due to the fact that no one else covered it). In Kelin's case, I got the arrest report the day it happened. Had I known of Dantzler's situation in a timely fashion, obviously we would have not drawn a distinction between the two.

Thanks to all of you for your input on this issue. I think reader expectations have to play a big role in these types of decisions, so it is greatly appreciated to hear your thoughts.

the anonymous suckup said...


I didn't mean to limit my comments to elected officials. That just happened to be the most obvious category that came to mind at the time.

I don't have an exhaustive list of what sort of public figures should have their laundry aired. But I would certainly add people who work in positions of authority at public institutions or in government. For example, I would include a city manager or a police chief. While these positions are not typically elected, they are fair game in my opinion.

Also...if Mark Richt, Damon Evans, or even the average UGA English professor was arrested for DUI, I would include them in the "fair game" category as well. I would include them because they are paid by tax dollars and are in positions of authority.

Now that I've typed this post, I'm tempted to reconsider my opinion of the Kelin Johnson situation. If he was on the public payroll and coaching students at the time of the arrest (I don't know if that was the case), I might have to reconsider. But the Dantzler situation still strikes me as one that doesn't need to be published.

David Hale said...

JFerg, I'm in no way disagreeing with your comments -- I think they are pretty fair -- but by that rationale, shouldn't we also publish such incidents for, say, a 5th grade science teacher? They are, after all, responsible for the safety and education of your children, which strikes me as far more important than playing tight end for an SEC football team. Again, there's a lot of gray area in terms of both ethical and practical decision making.

David Hale said...

Sorry... that comment was actually in response to Anon Suckup's post, but really applies to all.

Again, thanks to all of you for your input. It's been really interesting to hear your thoughts.

the anonymous suckup said...


Yes. In fact, my logic (such as it is) would dictate that a fifth grade science teacher's DUI arrest would be fair game. And I have absolutely no problem with that. Such a teacher would be paid out of the taxpayers' wallet (in public schools at least), and he/she would be someone who should be subject to public scrutiny. Speaking for myself, I would absolutely want to know if one of my kids' teachers ran afoul of the law in such a major way.

But I still don't see why it is my business if Joe Cox or Tim Tebow gets a parking ticket. I don't even see why it is my business if they get arrested for DUI. Neither of them owe anything to the public, in my opinion. If they break the law, they should be punished the same way I would be punished. And their punishment should receive the same level of public scrutiny as my punishment would receive. Or an even better comparison would be to say that the press coverage of a Tim Tebow arrest should be the same as the press coverage for the arrest of the third string triple jumper on the Valdosta State track team.

Once again...these are just my opinions. But you did ask for them... :-)

David Hale said...

I think I'm inclined to agree with you, particularly at this level, although it's probably a moot point since clearly these stories about college athletes will be published regardless.

I think there is a difference though between, say, Joe Cox, and Brett Favre... or even Kelin or Dantzler. As professionals, they are making money off their names, through endorsements or, in Kelin's case, he probably would not have the job he had without having been a former UGA player. If your name (and reputation) is what gets you paid, then perhaps indictments of that reputation are fair game to be published? I dunno. Just a thought.

the anonymous suckup said...


I see your point about someone making their money off of their reputation. I'm not discounting it. But in many cases, the punishment administered through our legal system (such as it is) would result in a lack of playing time for an athlete. Similarly, it might very well cost an announcer his job. In either case, it would be hard for the player or announcer to pad their reputation if they aren't on the field or in the booth. And maybe that would get the job done without having to put the arrest in a headline.

Oh well...I'm pretty much splitting hairs now, so it is probably past time for me to shut up. I think through all of this, you did make your point that these decisions are not always black and white. I just happen to be a person who always like to err on the side of privacy.

As always...I enjoy your blog and appreciate all the work you put into it. Your efforts help us UGA football junkies get through the summer...