Coming Friday: The Florio Experiment becomes the Florio Experience

The manner by which Mike Florio, a one-time labor lawyer from West Virginia, has turned an NFL’s fans’ clearing-house blog into a segment on a national network’s pro football coverage seems to be too good a story to keep ignoring.

We’ve tried. We can’t do it any longer.

Starting with NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” coverage of Dallas-Washington, Florio will be part of the post-game show with Bob Costas, talking about the storylines of the week ahead, and promoting the NBC-related ProFootballTalk.com site, which has become the template and driving force of the NBCSports.com model.

In the bivalve habitat of bloggers who feed off whatever’s floating atop the water level, Florio will hold himself accountable for not doing deeper into stories before he posts them. He says quality over quantity is his goal now, even though there could be more than 50 posts a day on his site with four other free-lance contributors.

Maybe begrudgingly, the traditional fact-diggers appear to be more accepting of Florio’s nine-year Internet grind for credibility, especially after experiencing the benefits of his cross-promotional linkage.

While making mistakes along the way, he’d also drudge up nuggets of exclusive content. As the reader revisits PFT for more of Florio’s findings, chuckling at some of his snarky responses (without any mean-spirited pouring-it-on) and accepting the premise that the news’ truthiness couldn’t always be 100 percent verified, the gameplan is established.

To make this somewhat timely, Florio became entwined in last week’s story involving the eventual suspension of Washington Post columnist Mike Wise, who admitted to posting a false report on Twitter to see, as he says, how many others in the media would pick it up and run with it.

We admired Wise’s premise, but are now confused about his motives. Wise, when admitting later that it was a hoax, singled out Florio and ESPN’s Adam Schefter as two who did “take the bait” — but not so much in the way Wise may have envisioned. Both credited Wise for the information he assumed to be giving (Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlesberger was presumably having his six-game suspension reduced to five games), tried to verify it and left it as such until Wise confessed to what he was doing — trying to show how Twitter has been misused as a source of information.

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Here’s how Florio couched the Wise report in the first place on Aug. 30 (linked here).

Florio posted this on his blog Wednesday as he continues to be amazed at how he got dragged into Wise’s web (linked here):

“We’ve moved on (really, we have) from last week’s fabricated-report fiasco … .

“(But) given that (Wise) works in the town that gave birth to the phrase ‘the cover up is worse than the crime,’ some may regard Wise’s effort to conceal the true scope of his intentionally and deliberately false report as a greater offense than the intentionally and deliberately false report itself.

“(The Big Lead’s Geoff) Decker passes along a link to a transcript of companion interviews that yours truly and Mike Wise provided to NPR’s On the Media. And one of the last comments from Wise to Bob Garfield reconfirms that Wise simply doesn’t understand the difference between a reporter who always tries to be accurate but who inevitably will be inaccurate and a reporter who intentionally and deliberately tries to be inaccurate.

” ‘The 20 years [of my journalism career] that nobody had ever questioned, that now it has been, and I promise it won’t happen again,’ Wise said as to the consequences of falsifying news. ‘Not necessarily Mike Florio, but what some people of his ilk and some people of . . . his job description can’t say is that it won’t happen again.’

“On that last point, Wise and I finally have reached a common ground. He’s right. I can’t guarantee that we won’t pass along a report from a respected journalist at a respected news organization that, for whatever ridiculous or skewed or malicious or nonsensical motivation, was intentionally and deliberately falsified.

“I can’t guarantee it, because I refuse to waste my time contacting respected journalists from respected news organizations to ask them, ‘Is there any chance that you’re simply squandering your own credibility and the credibility of the company that employs you to prove that people will believe the things that you say?’”

Florio added to that in our conversation this morning:

“I think Wise was making an assault on the new media as a whole, but I think in his mind I’m the embodiment of the new media fears that maybe he doesn’t quite understand yet. I didn’t understand his motivation. I guess what this ultimately proved to me is that he doesn’t understand how things work. If I (had stolen his information and reported it as my own) then I guess there’d be some validity to it. But that’s now how it works for the Washington Post. Aggregators will repeat things that respected media members reporter. We have a right to assume they’re legitimate. But I think this somehow struck a chord and created a conflict with people who are with the old media.”

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The blog KissingSuzyKolber.com (linked here) wasn’t so much on Florio’s side through all this, especially after he posted about how he agreed with the Washington Post ombudsman who opined that Wise would be best off resigning or getting fired for what he did:

“Who exactly do you think are, the David Broder dean of the football press corps? No one cares who you think should be fired. You’ve carved yourself a nice and probably lucrative place among the great sports media borg, Florio, but don’t let your success floating rumors and theories fool you into thinking you’ve achieved some elevated place from which you can impose your demands.”

We demand more ink on Florio’s career in the blogging biz. We’ll get to that Friday.

But first, one of the original posts Florio had this week, on what’s going on with a pending lockout.

He said based on what “a league source explained” to him, players currently subject to repeated and random drug tests based on prior violations could welcome a March 2011 lockout because, with the labor deal expired, the league could not require testing any longer.

Wrote Florio: “Look for plenty of guys to ‘celebrate’ a lockout by engaging in the consumption of the controlled substances of their choosing and/or to supplement their training and/or rehab with all sorts of supplements that are on the list of banned supplements, without having to worry about urinating in or on anything other than a toilet, a urinal, an outhouse, a wall, or someone’s grave.

“It’s all the more reason for both sides to roll up their sleeves and continue to try to get a deal done, even as we prepare to collectively ignore the situation and enjoy the football season.”

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