By: Chip Turner
The traditional age of Media Gatekeeping is over. For a very, very long time, there was a “few broadcasting to many” approach in a given Medium, whether it was through television, newspapers, radio, or even the early days of the Internet. A select few determined what information was distributed to the masses, and when.
Those days are long gone, and you, my friend, are a medium of information every time you Tweet. The freedom of being able to break “news” (for the purposes of this article, we’re going to define news very broadly as “information that a particular group of persons finds interesting”) to your personal audience is still very fresh and powerful.
And as with anything powerful, it can certainly be abused.
Welcome to the next step in the Information Age, when pretty much anyone can fabricate and post anything they want from “sources,” no matter how outlandish, in hopes of gaining more clicks to show to advertisers…with very limited repercussions.
Another name for this specific trend is “Miami Dolphins Pre-Draft Coverage.”
Here’s an example: This morning, I asked my source about DeVonta Smith as to whether or not the Miami Dolphins are locked in on him at pick number six in the upcoming NFL Draft. My source started to speak, then looked at me quizzically, as though he was unsure how I came to this conclusion, and then sighed and nodded vigorously. He then spoke and gave me the response I was looking for.
Now, in reality, the response was “ARF ARF arf arf ARF ARF,” because my source is my dog Raylan. I asked him the question while I was holding a dog treat, and I got him to nod his head by moving it up and down. Slick, right? I mean, technically, my “journalistic integrity” is intact, and I didn’t even have to reveal my source if I decided not to.
While this seems completely ridiculous, I can assure you that the scenario in the previous paragraph is far more ethical that what’s being done by a few Twitter accounts and Web sites with “NFL” and “Draft” in their names, not to mention one or two reporters and radio personalities.
In those instances? They’re simply making stuff up based on semi-educated guesses, and then hoping it works out so they can say “I told you so.”
Don’t get me wrong; there are most certainly legitimate reporters out there who have legitimate sources within organizations. The most reliable ones have words like “Allbright” and “Rapoport” in their Twitter handles, in addition to local market members, like Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post reporters. These journalists put the work in; they’ve developed the trust of agents, players and scouts, and legitimately know what they’re talking about.
But a lot of your upstart “journalists,” Twitter accounts and Web sites are very simply making things up. And they can’t really be held accountable; it’s virtually impossible to legally compel a journalist to reveal a source without a crime being involved.
The only real victim here is you, dear reader, for wasting your time falling for their click-bait, examining what they said, following their link, and becoming a statistic used for gathering their advertising dollars. Beware of tweets containing like “Could Be,” “Might” and “It’s Possible,” because…heck, nearly anything is possible, and they’re technically not lying.
We here at PhinManiacs are making every effort to not do this sort of thing. I can assure you that our “sources” are genuine, and when we publish something that states “we heard” something, it’s from a legitimate, honest-to-goodness person who is legitimately aware of what’s going on with the situation we’re reporting on.
After all, you only get one reputation, and we’re not going to ruin ours with a headline like, “Chris Grier Might Give Up NFL Coaching Career For Chainsaw Juggling Gig.” (I mean…heck…he MIGHT, but it’s incredibly unlikely, right? Hopefully?)
And in case you’re curious, Raylan isn’t ruining his for anything less than a box of Milk-Bones.