Will Leitch writes on Sports on Earth that he is getting hate mail from people who think he still is associated with Deadspin; he isn’t. Not sure if this bothers him more than watching the sinking Illinois basketball team. Beware Nebraska tonight, Will.
From his post:
About 36 hours after Deadspin broke the Manti Te’o story, I started to notice, on my Twitter timeline, a bunch of people calling me an asshole. Now, I haven’t worked at Deadspin for almost five years and had nothing to do with that story — I learned about it the same time the rest of earth did — but I understand: I founded Deadspin and will likely be associated with that place the rest of my life, even after Bleacher Report buys them in 2023 and just turns the joint into a series of penis slideshows. I’m OK with it.
Because people assumed I was still with Deadspin — or just saw Deadspin in my Twitter bio — the Twitter mentions were coming fast and furious. (And Deadspin itself was, of course, inundated with hate mail.) The viewpoint, coming almost entirely from Notre Dame fans, was clear: Deadspin had an anti-Notre Dame agenda, and they were just trying to take down Manti Te’o and their storied university from the get-go.
And here’s a link to those letters that Deadspin received.
With regard to recent reporting I have it on 80% certainty that the Deadspin site is dropping the spin from it’s name and will now simply be Dead. Thanks.
And that was relatively tame.
Michael Bradley of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana writes a column off my post on Jeremy Schaap regarding his interview with Te’o. I talked to Schaap about saying he felt Te’o was credible during his reports on ESPN.
Bradley discusses whether Schaap should have injected his opinion
When journalists are trained, they are taught to report on events and work to provide the truth to readers or viewers. The facts are the most important things to consider, and anything less is unacceptable. But what about anything more? Schaap’s assertion that he was expected to share his opinions with people shows how things have blurred. He did a fine job – as usual – with the interview and with getting Te’o to respond to the questions people wanted answered. But was he then really expected to provide a verdict on the credibility of his subject’s account?
In the old world of journalism, no. He was to report and let the people acquire enough information to make their own decisions. But today’s climate is much different. People want to be told what is right and wrong, by people whom they can trust. Some of that is laziness; in order to get a complete story, people have to do more than just refer to one source. They don’t want to do that. But part of it comes from today’s personality-driven media world. The idea of interviewing someone who just conducted an interview is a relatively new concept and tied primarily to the 24/7 cycle that must be filled. Part of it comes from media outlets’ needs to produce stars that will attract and retain news consumers’ eyes and ears.
Richard Deitsch of SI.com talks to Pulitzer Prize winners Ken Armstrong and Amy Nutt on how we all suck as reporters. Yes, I am tired of people using hindsight to say how reporters should have known.
As for the post-mortems, kudos to those reporters who have opened their notebooks, revealing how they got sucked in. That’s got to be painful, but it’s something we all can learn from. What’s clear from these accounts, especially Pete Thamel’s in SI, is the danger of deep and early buy-in. Even when details couldn’t be documented – there was no record of the girlfriend graduating from Stanford, there was no record of her being hit by a drunk driver – all that happened was, those details got cut. The story as a whole remained unquestioned.
One more thing: It’s worth noting that this kind of mythologizing – “Win One for the Gipper,” the Babe’s called shot to center field – is not limited to sports. When it comes to spinning a story, the U.S. Army is the equal of anyone. Just remember what the military did with Jessica Lynch. And with Pat Tillman. The lessons of the Te’o story – the need to be wary of inspirational tales with details that run light or are contradictory – extend beyond the playing field.
You mean the Babe didn’t call his shot? Well, there goes that book I’m writing.
And that’s all for now. More to come, I’m sure.