News Judgment Bogey  | American Journalism Review
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From AJR,   August/September 2003

News Judgment Bogey   

A reporter learns the hard way that not everyone has the movie "Caddyshack" memorized.

By Dan Wilcock
Dan Wilcock is a former AJR editorial assistant.     

After spending two days covering the annual Father's Day golf tournament in Roswell, New Mexico, reporter Gregory M. Jones wanted to write "something the golfers would enjoy" for the Roswell Daily Record.

So he penned a piece about an assistant greenskeeper named Carl Spangler, a name he thought "everyone would pick up" on as being the greasy, pitchfork-wielding, gopher-hole-detonating character Bill Murray played in the oft-quoted movie "Caddyshack."

In his story, Jones quotes Spangler--in the movie it's actually Carl Spackler--saying he's invented a new kind of grass that "you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon, take it home and just get stoned to the bejeezus belt that night on the stuff." That's a direct line from "Caddyshack," which Jones, 24, has watched 50 times.

If the golfers enjoyed it, Jones' bosses surely didn't. On June 17, the day after the story appeared, Jones was surprised to be fired from his job as the Record's sports editor. "I didn't think anyone would get that bent out of shape about it," he says. "This was my first journalism job."

Mike Bush, the Record's editor, did not return numerous phone calls from AJR. But a correction the Record ran on the story says Jones was fired "for presenting the material as factual." Jones says that in the firing conversation, "Jayson Blair was mentioned."