Reporters need to check their facts
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
Approximately two weeks ago now, the St. Louis Rams’ season was pronounced mostly dead. With star mid-tier QB Sam Bradford suffering a torn ACL, the keys to the sputtering Rams’ offence were tossed carelessly to journeyman backup Kellen Clemens as the team began desperately dialling anyone and everyone with an arm and two working knees.
After a relatively fruitless search, the hapless lambs settled on Notre Dame bust Brady Quinn and preseason cut Austin Davis. Much as I have a soft spot for Notre Dame (Jimmy Clausen comeback, anyone?) grads, anytime your team picks up a New York Jets castoff, it’s about time to start paying more attention to those mock drafts. But the Rams’ being terrible isn’t exactly breaking news. The Marc Bulger jersey on my wall is a constant reminder of that fact. The fun bit here is the complete incompetence of the media in covering the team’s quest of a budget-priced saviour.
A report came out last week that the Rams had tried to get Brett Favre out of retirement to act as the sacrificial tackling dummy behind centre. The story spread like wildfire. It was the lowest low a team destined to do its best Jacksonville Jaguars impression could sink to. Chasing a 44-year-old whose last season included 19 interceptions? Almost makes one long for Vinny Testaverde. The best part of the story though was that Favre turned them down.
The best part of the story was that it never happened. Davis, a Mississippi alum like Favre, happens to share the same agent, Bus Cook. When the Rams were talking to Cook about Davis, a representative jokingly inquired, “Hey, what about Favre?” Not quite the hot pursuit painted by the media.
In today’s world of instant information, it seems that the focus is more on getting the news out than verifying whether it’s true or not. Case in point: the Manti Te’o saga. If anyone had done any research at all at any point, that entire fiasco could have been nipped in the bud from the start. Instead, every reporter who was anybody was flipping the story along like it had come straight from the heavens.
While it’s true that not every reporter is going to be the one to break the huge headline, and thus, is restricted to hurrying out his own version of the story as quickly as possible, the timeless art of fact checking shouldn’t be ignored. It shouldn’t be enough that someone else already reported the story that one doesn’t need to do their own research. The “everyone else was doing it” mentality doesn’t fly at any level. What’s perhaps more distressing is that no one seems to mind. Whether this is due to the media losing credibility in the public or because people really don’t care what they read is unknown, but either way, journalists need to step up, do their job properly, and take some pride in what they do instead of being mindless drones churning out story after story.