Journalistic Integrity and Mr. Gray

A long time ago, back when I was a young idiot who had aspirations of being the next Peter Gammons, I was majoring in journalism at Penn State (Lehigh Campus) and was taking a class on the Integrity and the Journalistic Mind. One of the movies (the adjunct professor loved movies) that was shown was a Toronto Film Festival flick titled, “Shattered Glass” starring our friend, Hayden Christenson. The film was fantastic (and based on a Vanity Fair article by the awesome Mr. Bissinger). It told the story of Stephen Glass, an up and coming reporter for The New Republic who broke into the journalistic community by storm, only to have his work exposed as pure fraud. The measures Glass took to make sure his sources were legitimate is simply unbelievable and proved the age old theory that you have to work harder to lie than to tell the good ol’ truth.

The bottom line of that paragraph is that I learned a very important thing from that class, and while I was unable to finish my degree due to financial (and marital) reasons, the abandonment of my pursuit for a journalism degree does not mean that I don’t care for the industry anymore. What I learned then, and what I still believe to be true now is that no matter what profession you are in, integrity is all you have in the end. If you cannot be trusted, especially when the words you are using are being placed on paper or on the internet, you have no credibility. You are a joke. It’s pretty simple really, but the message always seemingly needs to be reinforced.

So when the Yu Darvish sweepstakes concluded Monday evening, a pretty crappy thing happened to bloggers and journalists everywhere.

At 8:52 PM EST Kevin Gray, a blogger who writes about the Toronto Blue Jays tweeted this:!/Graymatter11/status/148943859366375424

Then posted this on his blog:

The Yu Darvish Decision

UPDATE (10:35 p.m.): Announcement coming soon … Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos will announce tonight his team has won the bid for Japanese sensation Yu Darvish, according to my industry sources. I was told the Blue Jays would have the announcement around 9:30 p.m. (since delayed) that would blow away the great fans of Canada, who’ve been thrilled at the idea of Darvish signing with Toronto. Both parties have 30 days to agree on a contract. Early reports on the Blue Jays throwing down “a monster bid” were accurate. The bid was likely north of $50 million, a much higher figure than most in the Toronto organization expected. One of my sources: “How many tickets do you think we’ll sell tomorrow? This thing will pay for itself.”

Jays fans are flat-out going bananas right now. “Hope you are right. This could be a moment we look back on in a few years as the turning point in the franchise,” tweeted @Anthopojays.

Posted by Kevin Gray at 8:51 PM 40 comments

Ok. I saw this retweeted by a ton of people and was like, alright, a blogger got it first. That is awesome.

Then, we saw this from an actual journalist, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, who tweeted this at 11:06 EST:

Ok then.

Sources began flowing in and MLB soon confirmed the the Rangers had indeed won the rights to negotiate with Darvish.

Soon after, Gray tweeted this:

The only problem is Tom Diash doesn’t exist on twitter…Whoever he is, he’s not a “confirmed” Jay’s source as far as anyone’s concerned.

Gray then took back to his blog, which is good, I support explaining yourself:

Getting burned

Sorry, Blue Jays, fans. I gave the story my all and ended up getting bad info from trusted sources, guys that have never let me down before. (WTH happened?) This is the danger of the blogosphere. I didn’t go with the story in my newspaper because none of my sources went on the record. That’s our rule. So I’ll take the heat for posting it on my blog. I’m sorry to all those great fans in Canada. I screwed up. My Blue Jays sources screwed up. I’ll be right back at it tomorrow.

Posted by Kevin Gray at 11:39 PM

Ok, the problem is this, Mr. Gray:

You posted specific times of a press release and then you claim your source is backing you up on twitter, a source who does not actually exist on twitter, and then blame it on the danger of the blogosphere. You didn’t clear any of that up, just laid out a blanket apology, and no one hates anything as much as a blanket apology.

Kevin, you are one of the dangers to the blogosphere and in my opinion, a disgrace to all of us hard working bloggers who hope one day to either be recognized or paid. We see through the veil, man, and while I can understand that you had a 50% chance of being right (considering the Jays and Rangers were the two widely rumored winners) you had a 50% chance of being wrong.

Because you were wrong, you just made it open season for “journalists” to claim victory over those wannabee “bloggers”, which a few did, very proudly, in fact. Thanks dude.

  • Jason

    Excellent, well reasoned post. It’s frustrating, because there’s no accountability. He made a bold statement that as you said was essentially a 50/50 guess and when it turned out to be false, he simply hides behind his sources letting him down. Maybe his “sources” were wrong, or maybe his sources were some smelling salts and a bottle of tequila, who knows? Either way, as you said, he’s just giving ammunition to the asinine “parent’s basement” crowd.

    • joshuaworn

      Thanks Jason.

      The simple point is the divide between “journalists” and “bloggers”. Thanks to SweetSpot, SB Nation, etc. that divide is shrinking, but whenever something like this happens, and takes hold – meaning people actually read about it and talk about it – it hurts the rest of us who work hard at keeping our integrity.

      What confuses me, is that Kevin Gray IS a sports writer, or at least, a journalist, shouldn’t he know better, even if he is just “posting on his personal blog”?

      Of course, none of this matters really when Bill Conlin is making the kind of headlines we all hate to hear of…

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