Great Moments in Journalism: Cliff Lee’s muscle strain edition
Someone else tell me if this is bizarre:
- On Sunday, a story appears on Philly.com -- Internet home of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News -- reporting that Cliff Lee has a muscle strain;
- In the next 12 hours, the Internet picks up the story, people start blogging about it, tweeting about it, etc. Philly.com/The Inquirer is proud of this story, and understandably gets annoyed when they’re not immediately credited for it.*
- The next day, it is revealed that the story is non-story. Cliff Lee is fine. The muscle strain was a thing of the past, not the present, and his spring training program will go on, uninterrupted.
- The day after that, a writer on Philly.com tut-tuts us all for believing everything we read on the Internet and uses it all as a cautionary tale about the Internet, blogging, Facebook and Twitter.
- Oh, and Philly.com has since removed the initial report about Cliff Lee. Or at least moved it. I can’t find it anywhere on their site. (UPDATE: here it is. New URL).
Look folks, this isn’t hard: The Internet has changed the game a bit, but the game isn’t unrecognizable: report what you think is true, and yes, feel free to report it quickly if you feel it necessary. This is baseball after all, not national security. If the story turns out to be wrong or different or whatever, correct it. But do so in a transparent manner. Don’t delete your earlier, erroneous or misleading report and pretend that you’ve been right all along because to do so misleads readers who have an even tougher task today than they ever have had in judging a source’s credibility.
Likewise, bloggers: credit and link those who do the actual reporting and don’t block quote too much.
And newspaper people: think hard about writing that “beware of the blogs and social media” column. It’s a tired topic even if it’s right, but it’s downright galling if the primary example you use is one of the newspapers’ doing in the first place.
*That tweet, BTW, was in reference to HBT’s own initial post on the Lee thing which had ommitted the link and reference to the Inquirer at first. We fixed that as soon as it was brought to our attention and apologized to the Inquirer for the error. We’re not above any of the rules of the Internet and, no, we’re not perfect either.