- Two nights ago, I had a conversation with journalism friends about the Manti Te'o hoax story and we wondered what could keep this sort of thing from happening agin in sports media. That conversation inspired and informed this post on my blog. It was menat to be a short reference to the conversation, but it sort of became a long to-do.In posting this to social media, it sparked a conversation with my friends who are sports journalists who felt they were treated unfairly. I wanted to include their comments here to show their side of this conversation.And If I implied anywhere along the way that lack of fact-checking and verification is exclusive to sports, I apologize, as that was not my intention. I think the same accountability, verification and fact-checking should happen in all facets of journalism. I wanted to get conversation started about sports in particular due to this story. This story, much like Sandy Hook, Gabrielle Giffords and other news flubs cited below, should be an occasion where we examine our own houses and see what we can do better next time.
- This is the story we're talking about, where Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel recounts his interview with Te'o.
- In light of the Te'o hoax and other head-shaking news from the world of sports media, it's high time for sports reporting to (re-)embrace the fundamentals of plain old non-sports journalism. Rule #1: Always check your facts, even if the story is sure to be a hit.
(h/t to Facebook friends who contributed quotes)
- Trent Rosecrans - hey buddy, as a former sportswriter myself this stings me too. And given your track record (especially the great deconstruction of Aroldis Chapman with Jim McNair in CityBeat, you've got nothing to be ashamed of. But you've gotta admit, there is a complicity in sports reporting that is more glaring as in other places.
- I agree to a point. but when you've got the same organization such as ESPN calling themselves journalists also shelling out BILLIONS to get first right of interviews and to show the games, then there is a definite conflict of interest. And that trickles down throughout the system methinks. Sorry, but that's just they way I feel.
- It can't be fixed. And it will start seeping into non-sports journalism soon enough. The world of information moves so fast now that if you wait to "fact check" your story, you run the risk of being scooped. It's the literary equivalent of a pharmaceutical company - if you can say your story works 50% as well as it's supposed to, hurry up and put it out there for everyone because what you're missing by NOT releasing it far outweighs what you'd miss by waiting to hone it to perfection. In a few months, this will all be forgotten. We'll forget all the news outlets that ran with this story without checking it. And it won't hurt them a bit, but they'll still have all those page views they earned as a result.
- There is a laziness problem in journalism today - at all levels and for many various reasons. Good, solid work takes time and thought and scrutiny. Period. Get over the beat or the niche debate. The takeaway: question everything, trust no one. If your mother says she loves you: Check it out. That simple and that difficult.