The Media Learning Curve: Aug. 27-Sept. 3


Mike Wise took one for the team this week.

The Washington Post columnist, one of the better writers remaining in this business, accepted a one-month suspension for posting a factually incorrect piece of informaton on his Twitter account — done so to prove how stupid sports journalism has devolved.

Monday, Wise’s false rumor was that he had been told Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s susension would be reduced by the NFL from six to five games (linked here).

He then watched others play fast and loose with it.

An hour later, Wise reported that it was a hoax. Then others who repurposed it found out what they had was wrong and got mad. Then the Post had to do something.


“I tried to showcase the absurdity of bad journalism,” Wise said on his Washington-based radio show. “I could give you 10 reasons why I did this and what went wrong in the execution. I made a horrendous mistake, using my Twitter account that identifies me as a Washington Post columnist. … I’m paying the price I should for careless, dumb behavior.”

Thankfully, others have Wise’s back here. Washington Post colleague Dan Steinberg noted Wise’s intention with the tweet was to “test an idea he’s been interested in for several months: that in 2010, one sentence from one writer is enough to create a cascade of news stories published without any real vetting or sourcing.”

But other Post people weren’t happy that their “brand” had been compromised. Don’t worry, Woodward and Bernstein. You’re still our heroes.


Washington Post Social Media Producer Katie Rogers tweeted: “Why would you take your platform for granted like that, especially when thousands of people would kill for your job?”

The ruse got Columbia University digital media professor Sree Sreenivasan to be quoted in the New York Times about a journalist’s reputation: “(It is) on the line with every tweet, for better or worse … People have a reasonable expectation that it’s accurate or the best of what you know at the moment.”

Wise proved his point. We’re all the wiser for it. Now maybe those who trick ‘n’ tweet will think twice about how they’re using this mode of information delivery.

With that, some other things to extort readers with after today’s media column (linked here):


== More from Mike Bellotti, the former Oregon coach now part of ESPN’s broadcasting crew — he’ll do UCLA-Kansas State on Saturday (with Carter Blackburn and Brock Huard, Channel 7, 12:30 p.m.), UCLA’s home opener against Stanford on Sept. 11 (7:30 p.m., ESPN), then Wake Forest-Stanford and Oregon State-Boise State before doing Stanford at Oregon on Oct. 2.

On taking the TV job now: “It’s something I’ve considered in the past and was put on hold with the AD job (at Oregon last year). I had been offered some things at ESPN, and what it came down to is, when you’re hot, you’re hot, so the timing of things matters because this opportunity might be here next year.”

On what the questionmarks loom for UCLA going into their oopener: “In talking to the coaches, they’re optimistic about the payers they have and avoid the topic of the players they don’t have. The quarterback issue permeates a lot of things. They’ve got seniors on the offensive line, but not a lot of who’ve played. Given this new offensive philosophy, we’ll have to see how it works. I think defensively they feel good even when they don’t have a lot of guys back in the front seven. The real thing in looking at how they’ll play at Kansas State, which is so well coached, is they recognize it’ll be tough, facing a hostile crowd. Their thoughts are not giving up the big plays, or the easy ones, and avoid letting the crowd get into it.”

On the new UCLA “Pistol” offense: “We’ve used elements of it at Oregon, and I’ve seen Nevada-Reno run it. I interviewed their offensive coordinator once and we went over all of it. It works for them. UCLA will feel like they’re on a downhill running track with this. The balance doesn’t allow the defense to overload. The first steps of the quarterback and running back is lateral, so the backs will get a better track. Rick (Neuheisel) and Norm (Chow) are committed to running it, and they’re trying to fix a running game they’ve felt wasn’t there. It’s really the Veer concept from the Shotgun I that Washington use to run with Marques Tuiasosopo. Until they get it going, they won’t know how it works. That’s what everyone wants to see.

== If it’s not Chris Mortensen upsetting Al Davis, then it’s Adam Schefter (linked here).

== If ESPN comes to your town wanting to cover your high school sports event, do some due dilligence (linked here).


== In light of how Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley “rewarded” some beat writers by letting them into a scrimmage while excluded others (linked here), and the reaction by one of the “rewarded” writer’s bosses (linked here): I’ve got no problems if I’m one of those who wasn’t allowed in. In fact, if I’m not part of the “Vols Rewards Program” at this point, it might even get me to work harder. Dig deeper. Find something, perhaps, that won’t be so flattering to the Tennessee program. See what kind of culture Dooley has created here? He’ll have to live with it now. Journalistic karma has a way of coming back on this. Let’s see who’s more motivated to “cover” the team now.

== Rob Dibble, with more on why he’s no longer the Washington Nationals analyst (linked here).

== Sean Salisbury, on his “sophomoric mistake” (linked here)of “the cell phone incident of 2006” leading him into the world of Internet radio host.

== If there’s an integrity of content to protect with ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” why threaten to compromise it into becoming a version of “America’s Home Videos”? Broadcasting & Cable reported this week (linked here) that ESPN is preparing to launch a tie-in between “SportsCenter’ and YouTube where people will submit sports highlights – featuring themselves or their families – and having a shot at getting it on TV during the news show. John Kosner, the senior VP and general manager for digital media, says ad sale development in social media programs will also push to get commercial programming as well on Facebook and Twitter.

== Other journalists included on the NFL Network’s project to determine the Top 100 players in league history, other than those cited in today’s column: Don Banks, Rick Gosselin, Bob Gretz, Ron Borges, Paul Domowitch, Howard Balzer, Michael MacCambridge, Jarrett Bell, Ray Didinger, Sam Farmer, Hub Arkush and Jerry Izenberg. Google them at your leisure.

== Was Erin Andrews ever on David Letterman?

== announced an expanded deal with ever-expanding columnist Jason Whitlock, who recently left his position at the Kansas City Star. Whitlock already does two columns a week on the site as well as podcasts, chats and whatever other gizmos are around, “often taking a position most columnists lack the courage to take,” according to the Fox release. The same release quotes him: “My relationship with has been very successful so far and this is only the start. I’m very pleased that my editors have shown the wisdom to let me be me, and very soon there will be a lot more of me to love on the web site.” Whitlock spent six years with ESPN (2000-06) writing for the website and appearing on the network chat shows.

== NBC says that part of the new wrinkles in its 20th season of Notre Dame football coverage, starting with Saturday’s game against Purdue (Channel 4, 12:30 p.m.), in addition to replacing Pat Haden with Mike Mayock as the game analyst, is adding an ActionCam overhead cable camera system, live streaming on with an additional camera angle, and an international distribution agreement with Eurosport to carry the games in Europe and Asia.


== Did ESPN’s “Around the Horn” do the right thing in talking out the Jay Mariotti situation? Why weren’t any points awarded? Why didn’t Colishaw get to chime in? Does anyone really care?

When the Sports Business Daily ran an item this week covering the Mariotti discussion, it included a tweet from author Jim Miller, who is working on a book on the history of ESPN: “If ATH hadn’t brought up J. Mariotti they would have been slammed, so give em credit for taking it on. But was it also cathartic?”

It also included this reader comment from someone posting as JG: “Mariotti is an ass and gets what he deserves. He always tried to sound as if he was the moral compass of this country whether it was sports or any other topic. Maybe he’ll learn to shut his mouth or use filters when speaking. I hope they trhoe (sic) him off of Around the Horn.”

Was that cathartic for JG?

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