I am really starting to develop a strong dislike for a lot of the sports reporters out there. To be fair I have a lot of friends who work in the media and for a short time I was on that path as well until I decided I liked telling fake stories rather than real ones and moved into filmmaking.
Last Wednesday Twitter did what Twitter does best. It incubated and grew a rumor about Evander Kane wanting to be traded from the Jets. “Credible” sports journalists started using this Tweet as a source and before you know it Kane’s phone is blowing up and he and his agent are scrambling to say it’s not true.
Ever since Twitter and social media emerged journalists have been struggling to find out how to properly use this powerful tool. Some scour the interwebs looking for info that they report as fact only to find out in short order their facts were in fact not factual. Others will throw almost anything they hear onto social media with the hopes of being correct just so they can be first.
Take the cautionary tale of epic_puckbunny who in the spring reported on twitter that TSN was about to announce the Coyotes coming back to Winnipeg. Turns out epic_puckbunny was just some teenaged girl in Edmonton who made up the rumor just to see what would happen.
Well what happened was the media started running with it and very soon everyone was forced to deal with this story. The NHL, True North and the TSN all had to issues releases saying that this report was untrue. There was a full on media frenzy for a few hours because some little kid decided to start a rumor.
I don’t blame her. I thought it was kind of funny. I do blame the legit media groups who reported this as if epic_puckbunny was Barbara Walters. You’d think they’d see the name epic_puckbunny and a few alarms would go off but no they wanted the story so who cares if you get it wrong at least you were first.
Then you have the media members who are just PR shills for whomever is supplying them information. How many times in the last year did the NHL use their “insiders” to help perpetuate the lies about what was really going on in Glendale? Does the phrase “2 weeks” mean anything to you?
It should because that was what TSN’s Darren Dreger would say his “ unnamed sources” would tell him when the Glendale deal would close. For almost 9 months Dreger would say “2 weeks” and yet still to this day the deal remains undone. In exchange for the odd morsel of truth these “insiders” are used by the NHL to help shape the narrative they wish to promote.
Journalism is tough these days. There are a lot of people who are competing for the same eyeballs so being first is what is important. Who cares if you get the facts right as long as you have a story out that no one else has. The quest for being first trumps integrity and that’s just sad.
Not all journalists are like this some still do actual work and check what the unnamed sources tell them. Stephen Brunt was the one who broke the story about the Thrasher’s coming to Winnipeg. True North, the NHL and competing journalists all rushed to try and say the story was false. Yet Brunt’s reputation of being a true professional was so strong that most people took it as fact and in the end he was right.
If Darren Dreger or Damien Cox had broke this story many would have not believed it since they are mostly known as the PR arm for the NHL. Brunt is not an NHL insider and was able to get the story by doing actual work rather than just write what your sources tell you to.
The problem with sports journalism is that it is built around access. Without access you cannot do your job. The only way you get access is to play nice with the group you are supposed to be reporting on. This isn’t like reporting on the government where they hold no influence over you. If the NHL decides they don’t like what Dreger is saying they will just stop talking to him and then Dreger is out of a job. The NHL dictates the story and therefore very little the insider’s say is credible.
Listen I understand that this will never change and that this is the nature of the beast. All I would like to see is a little accountability. Don’t use twitter and other forms of social media as your primary source and don’t take what your contact says as truth without having someone else back up what they are saying.
After actually talking to Kane and his agent the story went away and the media moved onto their next big scoop. Until we as consumers of media (and thats what we are) stand up and say this form of journalism is unacceptable then we will have to deal with silly rumors all the time and I’d rather worry about whats happening on the ice then what happening in cyberspace.
Go Jets Go!
Category: Jets News