The fundamental role of journalists is to provide accurate, trustworthy, and objective articles to their readers.
But in the area of sports, why has that disappeared? Why are sports journalists more worried about being first and wrong than second and correct? Why is it that the finest sports journalists at the top newspapers, television stations, and magazines have chosen this path? Why are they not being held accountable?
It was just over a year ago that the LeBron James circus rolled through sports media and destroyed the integrity of some of the top journalists.
I remember the daily reports stating James was headed to the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets, and back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
A New York Times sports journalist reported less than two weeks before James’ televised decision that it was “a done deal” that James would head to Chicago.
This was not the only wrong report throughout the James’ coverage. Why wasn’t the public more outraged at all of these bogus sources and stories?
Although it’s enjoyable for journalists to break stories and earn recognition for their hard work, why couldn’t those same journalists name their anonymous sources to prove it was credible information?
Twitter and other various social media outlets have changed the way sports journalists will report forever. My complaints are not with social media because they are outstanding from a fan’s perspective to gain access to the players throughout the day and beyond press conferences.
However, sports journalists are no longer held to the same accurate and trustworthy reporting standards they were before the social media era.
Bloggers have also given sports journalists a new challenge because they don’t have the standards of reporting that professional journalists do. Blogs can run a speculative story based on a source that may not be close to the players or team and take the rewards of breaking a story without being reprimanded if they are wrong.
When the Chicago White Sox traded Edwin Jackson to the Toronto Blue Jays, a fan (an art director) first reported it on Twitter, after speaking with a player.
Although it may be frustrating for journalists to lose stories to bloggers and fans, it is their job to ensure their stories are as accurate and trustworthy as possible which gives me all the more reason to read their articles. I think they have failed in that aspect.
Recently, Chicago and national media members reported the White Sox had claimed Jim Thome and Jason Kubel from the Minnesota Twins off waivers, and had an opportunity to make a deal with the Twins to bring them to Chicago.
However, the sources were incorrect and the White Sox didn’t make any claims for Thome or Kubel.
Who is holding these inaccurate journalists responsible for making a mistake?
I understand mistakes happen, and some erroneous reports will circulate throughout the media, but I’m bothered by the fact that the top newspapers, television stations and magazines are all making these mistakes.
Worst of all, the public doesn’t fault them for it. Yes, some of the elite journalists abide by the old standards and work for truthful and accurate stories, whether that means they are breaking a story or double-checking facts. But they don’t receive the recognition they deserve.
As an aspiring journalist looking to enter the field of sports, I want to strive for trustworthiness above all else and although the times have changed, the standards have not. Readers shouldn’t settle for anything less.