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Sports Journalists are Fans, But Their Roles are to Scrutinize: We Expect Supporters to Promote their Team, but Journalists to Press for FACTS!

By: Charles W. Boatright, President of THE QATSPY®

Sports Journalists are Fans, But Their Roles are to Scrutinize: We Expect Supporters to Promote their Team, but Journalists to Press for FACTS!    

In college sports, boosters and collectives provide critical support to the athletic department in various roles and functions they perform. This includes monetary contributions and writing articles and posting on various media platforms to develop and grow their fanbase of the athletic program and in recruiting players and sponsors. We expect these booster clubs to publish favorable articles promoting the athletic department and its image to players, fans, and sponsors alike.

Their job isn’t to criticize the administration, but to project an optimistic view of the athletic department and coaching staff to these groups. You’ve heard the quote- With friends like these, who needs enemies. This is the reason that we don’t expect boosters and collectives to grill the coaching staff and team’s performance in public, at least unless expectations are woefully under- achieved during or at the end of the season. They usually scrutinize the coach’s performance in a private setting where it should be done. You don’t want to air your dirty laundry in public. That’s for the press to do. At least the FREE PRESS we should have in sports and politics.

But Have We Lost the Job of Investigative Journalism?  

With mass 24/7 media, we all can watch coaches’ press conferences, but what we don’t get are the details we would like to have; Like questions— of what’s the reason for…, why was this done for…., and how did this occur…? These type of questions might be uncomfortable to ask and to be answered, but are needed to improve the team’s and coaching performance. The follow-up questions are always a little more pressing for the facts of the matter that are needed.

When the journalist and coaches are brutally honest with their questions and answers is where both earn respect of fans and readers. Where there aren’t hard follow-up questions asked by the journalist or where they are vague answers given is where integrity of both the journalist and coaching staffs are severely eroded. When hard-revealing questions are asked and frank answers are given up front is when respect is earned by the journalist and by the coaching staff.

Coach Lane Kiffin and the Portal

Coach Lane Kiffin was asked about the portal this past week where he was critical of the portal, because of how players are contacted to leave the program to go into the portal. The sports journalist in this interview didn’t press on a few key questions in how the portal works for coaches over the years, especially in Coach Lane Kiffin’s case. I find Coach Kiffin’s analysis interesting, in regard to the portal, particularly in light of Auburn’s Coaching search case last year.

Last season Auburn fired Coach Harsin. I have no idea how serious Coach Kiffin entertained the coaching position at Auburn, but there was some degree of distraction that Coach Kiffin was dealing with, especially in the game with the Arkansas Razorbacks, where Ole Miss lost.

I would like for the journalist to have pressed on the Auburn coaching offer and what distraction, if any, did that affect Coach Kiffin. The second question should have been asked of Coach Kiffin- “If coaches have the same options to leave for another coaching position, should the same option also be available to players, as well?”

Being brutally frank by the journalist in doing one’s due diligence would have been very useful in clarifying Coach Kiffin’s perspective on the portal in how it applies to coaches and players, alike. I would have been interested in Coach Kiffin’s response on both how coaches can leave for another coaching position and athletes being contacted to enter the portal. You think Coach Kiffin had to deal with this issue before? Given the situation at Tennessee and Alabama, I would like for Coach Kiffin to provide some perspective in those two cases.

Another question for Coach Kiffin would had been, have you benefited from the portal in filling your roster over the years?


Lack of Journalists Pressing and Investigating

The same situation exists in politics where journalists don’t ask hard questions and don’t press with follow-up questions or verify whether the information given to them is correct or not. A tenth grade journalism student can transcribe answers, we need to verify the information that is given. Even when someone in authority, like the FBI, gives an answer, it is the journalist’s responsibility to follow up with questions and verify if the answers provided to them are correct or not.

If answers are vague to questions and aren’t correct, this leads to erosion in the integrity of both our authorities and journalism responsibilities. Remember the Duke Lacrosse Case documented by ESPN in their 30 for 30 investigation to what went wrong in their special entitled Fantastic Lies.

If Fantastic Lies is aired again on ESPN stations, this would be worth your time to listen to this particular episode of 30 for 30. I found it intriguing and interesting, especially from a legal perspective in how this case was prosecuted in the press, except for a few outlets that did their due diligence. Fantastic Lies steps through all the ways that journalism covering this case failed miserably by playing the prosecutorial hand for the deceptive prosecutor, Mike Nifong.

Journalists totally dropped the ball in doing their due diligence in the Duke Lacrosse Case. This continues even today, as if nothing was learned from the Duke Lacrosse Case, as if journalists even do learn from their mistakes, which is doubtful. We, as the readers and viewers, are hurt in not having FREE PRESS with all the facts in making an honest decision and assessment, but instead, influencing their readers and viewers that are being persuaded to think a certain way.

The journalist that makes up the mainstream media has lost a tremendous amount of their credibility, especially promoting certain stories tailored to their public, as propaganda to influence their readers and viewers. This happened again in the recent case of a laptop.

A FREE PRESS means FREE from undue INFLUENCE in reporting!

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