What has always been an issue with sports writing has become painfully obvious this past week with the constant news about Pacman Jones. Writers are always trying to increase their credibility and popularity by being the first person to report breaking news. For the most part this is great for consumers, especially ones that pride themselves on being well informed about their favorite teams (or any area of interest for that matter). However an epidemic of publishing false information has struck the internet.
Unlike newsprint an article online can easily be published and updated at the click of a mouse. This freedom and ease of publishing has lead to haste with reporters. Are the early first reports worth it if they are constantly wrong or inaccurate? To some degree they are worth it if mistakes are limited. No matter how hard people try, there will always be mistakes made. My problem is not that the mistakes happen, it is the fact that people are starting to put more emphasis on the timeliness of the story than its accuracy, for which there is no excuse.
What disappoints me greatly about the new trend of reporting is that writers are starting to hide behind their nameless “sources”. It is important to protect your sources from scrutiny, or they will no longer give you valuable sources. However when these “sources” give false information, especially on a regular, it makes the reader wonder if the source itself is credible or if it exists at all. Call me a cynic but I can see a non prominent reporter or blogger make up a story that could possibly be true. So blogger John Doe hears that the Lions are interested in Pacman Jones, he leans over to his shitshu who informs him that a deal between the Lions and Pacman has been signed. Now either this fictional deal ends up happening and the writer looks like a well informed insider, when actually he just got lucky. On the other hand if it becomes apparent that the signing will not happen, John will simply amend his article with no consequences what so ever.
With the specific article in mind by Pro football talks, I have no clue how someone could be so wrong. It would be understandable if, say the Lions and Pacman were close having a deal and that the Lions were the only team in contention, and then a report came out saying that the Lions and Pacman agreed to terms. It appears however that the Lions and Pacman are nowhere near reaching a deal, and other teams are still thinking about signing the cornerback.
Although my scenario of the writer discussing sports with his dog may be far fetched, it could be possible(not the dog part but the made up story aspect). I highly doubt this particular writer made up the story, because he does write for a prominent online new group, but it does however remind me of a story that could be made up. The point of this post is simple. Before you write something as fact, make sure it is fact and don’t rely on updates to correct your mistaken information.