Thursday, January 9, 2014

Rumors, reporting, Burgundy Blog, and the Jay Gruden hire

Permit me to indulge in a little speechifying over the reaction to Burgundy Blog's role last night in the rumors of Jay Gruden's impending hire.

It is wrong to say the journalists who started reporting the hire Monday morning were slow, or late to the story, or that BB beat them to it. It is absolutely wrong to suggest that reporters should credit or source BB for "getting the scoop."

BB did not engage in reporting, he repeated a rumor he heard from a Twitter follower. An interesting and relatively solid-looking rumor, but a rumor nonetheless. The "source," which should not really be called that, was not a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The fact that it turned out to be true does not make it any less of a rumor.

Journalists have to engage in the process of journalism, meaning multiple sources, assessing said source's credibility, and so forth. That takes more time than a retweet. Any journalists who "reported" an impending hire based on a tweet from a follower, if it turned out to be wrong, would be mocked by us and disciplined by his employers. His professional reputation would be permanently damaged. If a blogger on Twitter relays something he heard and it's wrong, we shrug it off and move on.

This is not to suggest that BB was in any way wrong in what he did. The fact that he is not a journalist is precisely why it was okay for him to share what he learned from some teenager who happens to both follow him on Twitter and know the Gruden family. We on Twitter are all just a bunch of people talking, and passing on a rumor your heard on Twitter is not inherently different from telling your friends at the bar. But it's not news.

It was fairly interesting to watch this process to play out, and a nice illustration of how Twitter and the internet are changing the way we all follow sports (or whatever topic we're interested in). Twitter has blurred the lines between reporter and audience a bit, but it has not erased them. And I think it was a useful reminder of the distinction.

No comments:

Post a Comment