LeBron James is going to the Heat.
Source: LeBron James is going to the Heat under the impression Dwyane Wade will be joining him.
What's the difference here? I put the obligatory "Source:" in front. Automatically, with some added speculation, you have cause to believe me. Because I put a word and a colon in front of the same senseless statement.
Sports journalism still exists, I think. Somewhere, it's hidden between the anonymous sources and behind the pearly whites on television that do nothing but give the people what they want to hear on a daily basis. I hope that sports journalists don't become cowards. I hope that they don't abuse their authority as "reporters" and "analysts" and spit out whatever bullshit comes to mind just because we, the news-thirsty audience, will believe them.
But it's getting tougher to believe in what so-called journalists say anymore, because they can say just about whatever they want. You have to pick and choose your sources of information wisely.
I'm not one to talk, primarily because I jumped the gun on a doozy that I heard about Hassan Whiteside at the draft and how the Rockets were "in love" with him and wanted to trade up to take him. Like a wide-eyed teenage kid (which is what I technically am, anyway), the minute I heard the information, I jumped at the chance to be "The Guy Who First Reported It." Never mind whether or not the rumor had any merit to it whatsoever. No, I had to get it out there with my name on the byline. If it wasn't true, who cares, because nobody really knows me enough to condemn me for it in the first place.
The motive wasn't to break news. It was a selfish ploy for Tom Martin to break... anything.
I don't want to fall into that category of journalism. I really, truly believe that I'm getting into this profession for the benefit of sports fans, not so that I can see my name re-tweeted a hundred times upon breaking a major story. But that "report" was a mistake. It was not verified in any way, and I'm going to stop doing that from now on. Zero news is better than speculative news, believe it or not.
My LeBron report falls into the same light, though I still contend that it was nothing more than a piece of information meant to generate discussion. It was verified as much as I could have verified it. But it didn't really do much for anyone except cause more arguments over something that won't matter until a pen meets paper sometime around July 5th.
So, for being ignorant and rushing to win a few favorable comments, I'm sorry. I'm not apologizing to make anyone feel sorry for me or anything like that. I just need to believe that I can do this thing the right way.
Jeff Pearlman has a piece up at SI.com practically mocking some of the "journalism" that has been on display during this free agency frenzy. Please read it. Here's an excerpt:
"He's going to California," my source told me. "He wants to compete head-to-head with Kobe."
My source is a mole. Literally. He's a brownish oval, roughly one half-inch in diameter, located on the right side of my stomach. I've been itching to have him removed, but my dermatologist says there's no good reason. Hence, he stays.
Last night, probably around 11:30, the mole -- much like Charlotte the magical spider -- talked to me in my sleep. He told me LeBron is headed for L.A., Chris Bosh will be a Chicago Bull and Dwyane Wade likes the color puce, dogs named Norma, long walks on the beach, Menudo's Xavier Serbia and hamburgers cut in the shape of peonies. (I might have misunderstood this last part. I was sort of groggy).
The current problem with sports journalism is two-fold. For one, most sports journalists rarely cite sources nowadays and keep them anonymous. The second problem is that we've become okay with that.
It's up to the people to monitor the news that is presented to them. I've been calling bullshit on half the stuff I've seen regarding free agency, mostly because it looks lazy and without any purpose other than to generate traffic. You guys should do the same. Find people you believe to be credible and stick with them. Filter out the fakers and phonies.
Since I'm not a journalist yet, you don't need to add me to either list. I'm just a blogger - a reactionist. As for my career in the real field, I'm just hoping that I'll be able to make a good living while maintaining my integrity. There's got to be some purity in this profession somewhere.
For now, though, it appears as if that may be a hard find.