[UPDATED] Sportswriter reveals the most unethical things he’s ever done

UPDATE: I’m told that Monroe Evening News editor Deb Saul asked sportswriter Jeff Meade to “add context to the column.” It’s been reposted here.
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Veteran Monroe (Mich.) Evening News sportswriter Jeff Meade was struggling to come up with a topic for Tuesday’s column.

“I just didn’t feel fired up about any sports issue,” he says in a phone interview.

In the end, the 57-year-old journalist decided to go with an idea “that was just in the back of my mind” — revealing the most unethical things he’s ever done as a reporter.

“It was a throwaway column,” says Meade, who attended Eastern Michigan University in the 1970s but never graduated. (“I never took a journalism class, but I worked for four years at the Eastern Echo.”)

In a piece headlined “Journalism students: Don’t do this,” Meade admits to:

* “Reconstructing” quotes after losing his notes
* Favoring players he covered
* Going out with a beauty pageant winner after interviewing her
* Using a city manager’s quotes after being told not to (the official made the request at the end of the interview, so Meade wasn’t in the wrong)

“It was sort of a coming-clean column, but I didn’t think any of them were that serious,” Meade says. “And most of them happened at the first paper I worked for. I hope I wouldn’t do any of those things now. But if all journalists were candid they would say they’ve pushed the envelope before.”

Meade tells me that his 19-year-son — a pastoral ministry student — “thought it was good, and my sports editor thought it was funny.” As for other colleagues at the 20,000-circulation daily, “I don’t know if anyone on the staff read it.” (I don’t think he was joking.)

Jeff Meade

Readers weren’t amused by the piece:

“You need to find a new profession, sir,” one wrote in the comments. “You should be fired,” said another. “You’re pathetic.”

“These people weren’t as upset after I responded to them,” says Meade. “They thought I had written this for journalism students, but I didn’t. I didn’t write the headline.”

Meade’s piece circulated on social media, but “I didn’t know that it had stirred anything up” until the column was taken off his paper’s website — “maybe because the responses got out of hand.”

* Jeff Meade: Journalism students: Don’t do this (Monroe News)

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