The NFL draft begins Thursday, which means Adam Schefter will engage in the Twitter tap dance again.
To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question.
Last year, Schefter and other NFL reporters came under fire for tweeting out picks and draft news during the first night. They were the spoilers, much like telling people in a movie theater how the film is going to end as they walked in.
Schefter was in essence scooping his network. While Chris Berman & Co. speculated on air about whom the Bears, or any other team, will select, Schefter’s followers already know the answer. There goes the suspense.
Wrote John Mitchell of Breakingtackles.com:
What is the cost of being the first to report the draft picks? 1.5 million followers being robbed of the draft experience. You want Roger Goodell to be the first to announce the draft pick. Not an ESPN reporter who happens to find out the information before anyone else.
In a post at ShermanReport after Round 1, Schefter defended his tweets. “When I learn information, it’s my job to report it,” he said.
However, it was interesting that Schefter seemed to dial down his tweeting the following night for the second round.
Schefter now has 2.3 million followers, and many of them will be hanging on his every tweet during the first round Thursday night. During a recent visit to Northwestern, where he received a graduate degree in journalism, I asked Schefter about his Twitter plans for this year’s draft.
Schefter took a breath. “There becomes the big story, the elephant in the room.”
Here’s my Q/A:
What is the plan?
Last year, we revised our policy to a certain extent (between Round 1 and 2). Even in some in round 1, we did it. Basically, what my boss (Seth Markman) said going into round 1: “I don’t want you tweeting every first round pick.”
I’m not going to report standard picks. If a team is sitting still at 15, I’m not going to tweet (that pick). In other words, mundane, Run-of-the mill picks, leave alone. But if it’s a quarterback or a bold move, have at it. ESPN places no restrictions on me (in that regard).
So why was there so much uproar last year?
I don’t know. I still don’t know.
There were big trades going involving picks. Eight of the top 10. Am I supposed to ignore that. Not say anything? This the world we live in. To a lot of people, it’s a Twitter world. I’m sorry about that, but I’m reporting what I’m getting. These are big trades to me. Am I wrong or right?
Last year, I found out about the Patriots trade to move up to take Chandler Jones. (The Jones tweet) was the one that offended a lot of people. And Chandler Jones was not necessarily a name you were hearing in the first round. He made a late charge to become the top defensive end in the draft. The Patriots trade up to take the best defensive end in the draft. I got the story. So now I’m not supposed to report that?
Do you understand why people were frustrated?
I understand people’s frustrations. I am not trying to report picks before (they are revealed on the telecast) and take away from the drama.
There’s a simple solution. Don’t follow me during the draft.
Fans, though, follow you and others because they want information during the draft above and beyond what they get from the telecasts.
What do you want? Do you want information or do you not want information? It’s a difficult process.
What was said to you between the first and second round last year?
We don’t want you reporting on any picks.
They said that to you?
Basically. During the second round, only one or two picks are headline worthy. If it is the headline of that day, and I’m fortunate enough to get that pick, I’m going to report it.
I am almost certain–not to put words in someone’s mouth–that the NFL has to spoken to ESPN and ESPN has told me to be more selective about what I’m tweeting in advance. I am trying to be as considerate as possible and tweet everything we’re getting, but I am going to tweet the headline-making items.
The Tim Tebow thing (in 2011). We had that pick (the Broncos drafting him). I’m telling the producers, ‘Send it over to me.’ They never got to me. I tweeted it after they didn’t get to me. It’s crazy.
How do you think it will go this year?
For ESPN, the NFL, the fan, it’s a whole new Wild West world we live in. How do we watch this? How do we report this? There are no traditions. There are no formulas.
I’m a draftnik. I used to stay at home from school to watch the draft. But I also have a job to do. It’s a judgment call. I’m trying to report the headlines that are making news if I am lucky enough to get them. You don’t always get this stuff. I don’t want it to sound like this stuff just pops up for us. It’s hard to work to get those stories. If I’m fortunate enough to get a headline-making item, I’m going to report it.
Tomorrow: Schefter on his love-hate relationship with Twitter and the pressure to be first.