beat reporters recruits

UGA Recruits Called Out Beat Reporters This Week

“Real news is great, son, but I’m getting a thousand hits an hour with Grade A bull plop”

Desperate for page views and clicks, the usual strategy of hype and false hope needed a supplement.  Media sources are failing to separate news reporting and analysis.  It is unfortunately common in political news and hard news, but it has reached sports media and has reached entirely new lows.  Unapologetic new lows.  Jumping the gun too early – new lows.  Negatively impacting the decisions of minors – new lows.  There is a difference between commentary and reporting, unfortunately the line was blurred this week.  Commentators typically maintain a distance while beat reporters actually are in contact with the parties discussed on a regular basis.

What would motivate a recruit to put out a statement like this?

The desire to report first and make the natives happy is enough of a problem.  However, manipulating the subject’s words after conversing with the subject individual and reporting inaccurately in this case is awful journalism.  Beat reporters are not to take sides nor jump to conclusions, let the pseudo-journalists in the studios and commentators show their biases and draw conclusions.  Reporting that Garrison Brooks has a Top 6 or cut his list after having a conversation that did not include such words is irresponsible.  Media are always in contact with recruits just like the way coaches maintain contact.  Unfortunately, the media are in a position to influence a recruit’s decision.  After all…

College Football and Basketball recruits are impressionable teenagers, not media savvy politicians and personalities.  Beat reporters are expected to at least be trustworthy enough to pass along an accurate statement made by a recruit, student-athlete or coach to the general public.

If beat reporters cannot be trusted, they could be shut out just the way Garrison Brooks chose to do.  Garrison Brooks has no obligation to speak to the media nor an obligation to tell anyone about his decision making process.  That means Garrison Brooks does not have to tell anyone who has offered him a scholarship, where he is visiting and which schools interest him.  The vast majority of a College Basketball and Football recruits communicate with the media starting at the age range of 14 to 16 years old.  It is easy to gain a teenager’s trust and derive revenue from the attention you can provide him or her.

In the same week that this incident happened, another UGA recruit, Luka Garza, was similarly misinterpreted.  Note that there is obvious contrition and even a retraction comment on social media for jumping to conclusions with this story, but the question to ask is, “Why are two reporters linked to the same company making the same sort of a faux pas in the same week?

Beat reporters are held to a higher standard than analysts and commentators as they are first to obtain information.  Distorting a conversation is a breach of trust.

Trusted reporters like Ken Rosenthal on rare occasions make mistakes trusting a bad source, but do make the effort to apologize and explain the error.  Rosenthal is easily one of the best beat reporters that cover Major League Baseball and it is hard to deny it.  Rosenthal is rather unbiased and makes no public showing of support for any of the teams.

The best reporters acknowledge their mistakes publicly, it is not only the right thing to do, but it helps build trust with the public.  Reputation is very important.  With these two recruits, one actively made the effort to correct the record and the response by the recruit was not to shut out the media.  The other did not, it was a clear breach of trust and it resulted in shutting out the media.

An intriguing question is:  Could the behavior of the local media negatively or positively affect a recruit’s decision?