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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 18, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Blogs

A Tweet Not So Sweet?

Day after day, technology gets more and more advanced. That’s no secret. Every other day a new version of something with an I in front of it comes out. See Iphone/IPad/Ietc. At some point, the I’s have got to stop. But it’s what people do within those mediums that makes waves in the sports world.

Facebook, Twitter and Myspace all have their pluses and minuses. So when it comes to being a “journalist,” what are the rules? Athletes have used these entities to their advantage, and are able to post news about their whereabouts or even what team they plan to play on the next season. They Tweet instead of giving a news organization the scoop.
So, that makes these news and sports organizations even more desperate to the be the first to get the breaking news. Everybody wants to be the next Chris Mortensen.  When Dallas Morning News reporter and ESPN Around the Horn contributor Tim Cowlishaw Tweeted that New York Jets star Cornerback Darrelle Revis was to be signed on a certain day, most criticized, while some trusted his reporting. Regardless, all waited on pins and needles for that Wednesday that he reported as such.

It was  Sunday, August 22nd, when Cowlishaw posted this:

“Revis and Jets announce new deal, probably Wednesday. You heard it here first. ‘Inside information!’”

After getting criticized for the report by various Jets beat reporters…Cowlishaw came out on that Monday saying that the 140-character limit of Twitter didn’t allow him to say that the time period was between Wednesday and Sunday. Couldn’t he have just Tweeted twice?

So we waited…and waited…and waited….

The sun rose Wednesday, and then set. The same thing happened on Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday, and Sunday. No deal was announced.

Revis and the Jets reached a deal earlier this week, so if Cowlishaw used even fewer of the 140 characters and just said…”Revis and Jets announce deal,” he would have been accurate.

But in today’s “we want it now” society, the medium of Twitter allowed Cowlishaw to make that decision to go all in, and then backtrack, and then still get it wrong after he backtracked. Funny how Twitter became an excuse for bad reporting. A trend……??

Well, you guessed it, it surely wasn’t the last time Twitter was used as an excuse…this past month.

Mike Wise of the Washington Post recently posted that Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger would get a 5 game suspension because of his rape allegations. After numerous news and sports organizations started reporting that as true, Wise came out and said it wasn’t true, and that he was just trying to prove a point that people will believe just about anything on Twitter.

Ok, so he proved his point. But, did he just get afraid that his statement got so much coverage, much like Cowlishaw’s, that if it was false his reputation would be compromised? If he was writing a regular article for his newspaper to be printed, would he have reported the same thing?

What if a person follows one team, but personally tweets support for another? It’s a true story.

Renee Gork reported for Arkansas Sports Radio, basically the beat reporter for Arkansas University sports/football. But, her inner ambitions did not necessarily reflect her being Hog Wild. She wore a Florida Gators hat to a press conference with Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, and when she asked a question Petrino answered it, but preceded to say that he would not answer any more questions from her as long as she had the hat on. She was relieved of her duties shortly thereafter.

But, her boss said that it wasn’t just the Florida hat that did it. Earlier in her stint there, she had posted on her own personal Twitter account that working for Florida was her dream job. That was one of the factors that contributed to her firing.

Well, that brings about a dilemma. Once a journalist gets a job, are their personal Twitter accounts still personal? Gork had a work account as well. Cowlishaw’s account was personal, and he posted the Revis news. Would he have been fired if he had decided to criticize ESPN and praise Fox Sports on that medium?

What reporters need to realize is that they, like athletes or celebrities, are constantly under a microscope. Their actions are almost constantly public, and affect the 24-hour news cycle depending on what they decide to report. In this day and age, with get it now technology like Twitter circling the globe, reporters need to be even more careful in checking their sources, and checking twice, when it comes to breaking the big news.

Maybe newspapers have something going for them after all.