Learning from the example of sports journalism

25Oct11

If the hat plastered to my head 24/7 hasn’t tipped you ff yet, I’m a Red Sox fan. I’m a Red Sox fan during one of the worst times in Red Sox history. At least that is the impression that you get if you read the news coming out of Red Sox nation. On October 12, Bob Hohler of the Boston Globe published the story “Inside the Collapse” a sprawling dirge of a piece, lambasting the entire Red Sox organization, as well as the the Boston sports media. Hohler’s story, based on “anonymous sources close to the Red Sox organization” makes a number of bold statements regarding both the players and the manager.The story was immediately picked up by all the major news outlets, broadcast around the globe on various media platforms, and circulated widely via social networking sites. Over the following days hundreds of Red Sox fans cancelled their season tickets, both manager and GM left the Red Sox, and the state of the franchise is left in a state of turmoil.

For hard-nosed journalists, calling sports journalism “journalism” is a joke. Its merely entertainment, fodder to sell newspapers when updates on real world issues won’t do the trick. However, millions of dollars are at stake, and the Red Sox brand is very much in jeopardy as a result of Hohler’s story. The story is very reminiscent of Boczkowski’s anecdote about Jorre’s death. Hohler’s story is a gossipy hatchet job, sniping at the organization with ammunition from hush hush sources written in a style better suited for Tabloid pieces than professional publications. Although Fitzgerald’s  information was totally bogus, Hohler’s material is questionable. However, because news circulates so quickly via social networks and digital publications, Hohler’s version of events became reality. Dissenting opinions and the voices questioning Hohler were drowned in the explosiveness of Hohler’s accusations.

In the digital age, original reporting, the bread and butter of traditional journalism, becomes even more important. As the Red Sox example shows, the “first” story, or the “exciting” story can become reality in the blink of an eye.

-Mike Lang

 

 

 

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