What on earth is wrong with the world of sports journalism? Can we even call it journalism anymore? We live in the age of technology, which is an exciting thing, so why then is this potential for information being choked by irresponsibility?
I understand the value of shock journalism and the idealism of negativity being a popular read, but when is enough finally enough? When do you pass the point of journalism and dip into the realm of sensationalism? How many 'passes' do you get on being 'right' in the world of sports writing?
I look after what started as a fan website for the Washington Redskins. While by no means are we a huge news outlet, I DEMAND from our writers that they do not write for the sake of writing or for the sake of attracting attention. We do our best to follow the Redskins closely, and we do our best to put out content that is factually based and pertinent. If anyone could gain an advantage by writing a story that was extremely controversial, it would be a small news outlet like us.
But we don't, and we won't. It's just plain irresponsible. There have been times where we were given rumors that were hot and didn't run with them. Many times, those rumors turned into truths. We didn't run them because we could not confirm the reports from more than one person and felt that it was unfair to run with something that could not be verified.
Now this is not in any way meant to be a slight on the freedom of the press or their right to report. Obviously the media outlets are going to be wrong from time to time when they run stories. That's just a by-product of the freedom to express one's self. But again, at what point in time did it become acceptable to throw as much crap against the wall as you can and see how much of it sticks. The media mongers tend to forget that real people's lives are affected by the fiction that they produce.
Some of the major media outlets not only fit the category of sensational journalism, they personify it. As a sports fan, I find myself reading fewer and fewer stories without the 'grain of salt' theory. For those of you who don't know, that's the theory that makes you take everything that you read with some modicum of disbelief. I don't pick up a copy of the National Enquirer and take it for gospel, and I'm shocked that that type of sensationalism has spilled over in to the sports world. Sure these guys are celebrities, and as such, are rightfully subject to scrutiny, but I fail to see how that grants 'carte blanche' to everything that the media write.
I could name specifics, and list names... but where would it get me? The sad thing is, I don't need to. The general public is not as naive as the media would make us out to be. We know the culprits, we've read the continual hearsay, and yet, many of these men stand at the forefront of their industry. What a joke. Their employers view hate mail as being as important as fan mail. After all, it means people are tuning in to their product. Why don't they realize that the 'boy who cried wolf' fable will soon rear it's ugly head? Sure it's great that people are checking your product out, but how is it positive if they are checking you out ONLY to see what level of drivel you have stooped to?
As I stated, we are but a small sports news outlet trying to forge a path in a competitive world. We don't profess to be the Pulitzer Prize winning journalists that we aspire to one day be, but we will make one promise. We will get where we get on the backs of hard-working writers that work at substantiative quality as opposed to quantity, and we will not jeopardize our belief system for the sake of the exposure. We apologize for not succumbing to the norm and bringing you mind-numbing, ignorant lies and rhetoric as opposed to what we feel is factual. We're going to go against the grain and just try practicing some responsible journalism.
Editor's note: This article is an opinion piece and is expressed in the first person, as it is only an opinion.
This article was released on 2005-06-05.
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