There are times when I hate the press. I really hate them. I appreciate they have a job to do, but sometimes they are just parasitic vultures, who love to pounce on any scraps they can find and then try to pass them off as caviar.
And now, 2 days after the Favre’s Textgate scandal, I am reminded once again of how flawed the press system is, and why so many are going out of business as the blogosphere continues to grow. At the end of the World Cup, I read an excellent article on Three and in about the terrible television presentation by British broadcasters during the World Cup, and what I particularly agreed with was how the old guard of bitter and cynical journalists need to be replaced by positive and enthusiastic bloggers, because viewers are sick of pundits moaning incessantly, rather than conveying their passion and enjoyment of the sport, and getting behind their team. It’s a great article and I suggest you read it.
From this awful World Cup coverage, my attention was then drawn to day-in, day-out stories centred around Arsenal’s captain, Cesc Fabregas, as the media in both Spain and England decided to have a competition to see who could come up with the most stories based around an “unnamed source close to the player” in an effort to unsettle him and Arsenal, and help Barcelona sign one of the most coveted players in world football. The trouble is that it all gets a bit tiring after a while, there are only so many “unnamed sources” you can read about before things start to smell very fishy indeed. And worse than this was British papers printing articles that supported the exploits of a Spanish team, rather than backing up the British side.
Perhaps this explains why my blood boiled when I watched Chip and Judd’s roundup video this morning on the Tribune’s website. Now let me start by saying that I appreciate how difficult Favre is to cover. He’s very elusive, and loves to throw the media the odd curveball to keep them on their toes. I also appreciate that the press are in a bit of a fix at the moment, they need to sell papers and get online ad revenue because times are very tough. But this does not excuse the reporting of stories that are damaging to the team these guys are meant to represent, and I think this Favre text story has backfired on them a bit. Now before I go into full rant mode, I just want to say that I do enjoy most of the work from the Star Tribune and the team lead by Chip and Judd. They are very close to the team, give excellent coverage during the season, and I do think that they broke this story believing that it was true (which it may be), but I think this time they may have shot themselves in the feet by reporting on something detrimental to the Vikings and their fans.
Okay, I’ll start by paraphrasing the key points of the video… First off the pair are sticking by their guns that Favre did send text messages to the team, despite Favre’s denial yesterday, but once again they reveal nothing about their source, or how they’ve verified the claims. They then go on to point out that Favre likes to mess with the media, and is lying. Then some bla bla bla about Favre’s absence from Training Camp possibly annoying some of the players who might not think it’s fair that the Silver Fox is at home playing football with high school kids. Then they move onto the key point for me. Then there’s their take on the 24hr news coverage around Favre, and how it’s left readers confused and frustrated (I’m guessing with them). They say that the Favre camp and the Vikings camp aren’t always truthful, and that they need Vikings fans to use their common sense when reading news stories on the team. Don’t blindly follow the Vikings they say, apparently there are fans who just wanna believe what they hear. They then say that they have worked hard to build up sources within the teams, and there is no doubt that Favre sent those text messages.
Sorry but this all sounds like they are trying to justify their actions to a group of disgruntled fans who are sick of hearing stories which seem to have no basis. There could well be a source, and a reliable one at that who broke the story to the Tribune, but because they have not offered anything apart from their word that the source is reliable, they have left many of us feeling very pissed off. And while they mention that both the Viking and Favre camps tell lies, they say nothing on themselves, and I’m afraid that the press are not infallible, far from it. And how dare they tell fans how to read the news! I’m sorry but it is your responsibility to report things truthfully and reliably (which often means going beyond basing a story off just one source). Yes, we should use common sense when we watch or read the news, but sometimes it is hard to know what is fact and what is fiction, especially when there are stories coming 24 hours a day from places that need to make money and who cite someone who we as readers cannot verify. We rely on them for our news, but we don’t have the access they do, so we need them to be honest rather than arrogant.
But more than that, we need them to fly the flag for the Vikings. Let ESPN or one of the other big sports networks run with stories like this, because they have no affiliation to the Vikings. But knowing how important Favre is to the team and how much most of the fans admire him, they should have showed some control rather than running wild with the story, because it left many of us, me included, fearing for the future of the team. And I think they need to acknowledge that their release of this story left many readers this way, or worse in a state where they started slagging off the team, and a player who could still come back for another year wearing the Purple.
Instead of jumping on the team, they need to get behind them. If stories like this come along, they should really try to verify them beyond just the anonymous source, if they can’t get through to Favre (they couldn’t), then hold the story for a day or two before they have the truth or a more verified version of it.
Maybe this whole article is naive, in fact I know it is, but for me the newspaper of a team should not spread gossip, especially when it can damage the team or just upset the fans, leave that to the big networks who cater to everyone. Like team specific blogs, papers like the Tribune should always endeavour to be positive about the team (like they were after the NFC Champ game last season), and in the case of the past two days I think the Tribune have found out what happens when they aren’t.
Agree, disagree or are you just totally lost in my ramblings? Comment and tell me! And Chip, or Judd? If you are lucky enough to read this, know that I still love you both, but you won’t be getting an invite to my wedding. And Brett? I’m still waiting for your RSVP, I even left a box saying “I’ll let you know the day before” just for you!