Bloggers use faults to analyze future of journalism, reporters

By Kevin Durso
February 15, 2012


It’s something that can be done from anywhere in the world. Anybody can post to the web in their name and claim that they are the source. Yet, bloggers can’t get on the same wavelength as reporters. Why? Accuracy.

Twice in a matter of weeks, stories were reported via internet and social media by sources falsely or prematurely. The better known of the two is the death of famous Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. On Saturday, Jan. 28, Paterno was reported to have passed away when he was actually still alive and while Paterno did pass away the next morning, there was plenty of trouble caused by the false news.

Onward State, the news website that reported Paterno’s death, apologized for the false report and its managing editor, Devon Edwards, resigned from his position immediately.

“In this day and age, getting it first often conflicts with getting it right, but our intention was never to fall into that chasm,” Edwards said in a statement posted to the website. “All I can do now is promise that in the future, we will exercise caution, restraint and humility.”

Another incident happened nearly a month earlier, when several local Phillies blogs reported of a near trade between the Phillies and New York Mets for superstar third baseman David Wright. The reports were fueled by a false Twitter account that was tweeting step-by-step progressions toward a deal.

Rumors are rumors, but stating fact is another thing.

Sports is one of the hot topics for bloggers because things happen a lot and they happen fast. But that makes the stakes much higher for mistakes to be made.

“Blogs can get a bad name when some try so hard to be first,” Kyle Scott, editor of Crossing Broad, said. “They fail to check the facts, or post something that is more of a rumor disguised as fact.”

“The infusion of Twitter into the newsroom has made being first almost more important than being correct,” Drew Cohen, editor of Buzz on Broad, said. “People are very quick to press the tweet button the minute they get news.”

Scott and Cohen run two of the most popular sports blogs in the Philadelphia area. Recently, they joined forces in a partnership between the sites.

Scott said that he still views these blogs as competition, but, upon announcing a new advertising plan on his blog, stated that the partnership has its benefits.

“So while I’m competing with those sites, there’s also a mutually beneficial relationship there,” Scott said.

Both Scott and Cohen focus on an entire region of sports, posting breaking news stories and satirical comedies on the happenings of Philadelphia sports.

But what about those blogging about one team?

Frank Klose, a religious studies professor at Cabrini and founder of Philliedelphia, a Phillies-related blog, said that he writes strictly on the Phillies because it is the team he most closely follows and that his schedule allows him to follow the team more than others in the city.

While all three bloggers run under the radar as blogs, several people would already call these “blogs” sources for their news on Philadelphia sports.

“I thought that I would be able to provide some off-beat news and commentary,” Scott said. “While that’s still the goal and tone of the site, I understand that our readership is fairly sizable and many folks do come to the site for their sports news.”

Scott makes clear that he doesn’t want his blog to be stereotyped as an “online diary.” He also said that he believes news sites and blogs are starting to cross fields.

“I call Crossing Broad a ‘blog,’ but there are still many people who think of a blog as like an online diary, which is rarely the case,” Scott said. “Many of the best sites out there for news and information, in my opinion, are probably closer to being blogs than they are mainstream news outlets. So I really think the lines are blurring, and it’s almost an issue of semantics.”

Several sports blogs are sometimes seen as the voice of the fans, that one fan has the courage to write down what many others are thinking. These Philly sports bloggers agree, but feel that their job description contains much more than that.

“The job of reporting is to speak to the fans, which is something that has been lost in journalism today,” Cohen said. “Our job is to find out and post the information you want to know about. If we run our site strictly off of what we believe is newsworthy, we are not doing our job.”

“Until recently, there were only very few people in a position to relay information to the world,” Scott said. “Those people had to be unbiased, or at least pretend to be, because they were speaking to such a wide swath of humanity and often presented the only chance for the masses to get the story.”

Scott has an interesting take on how journalism has changed and his idea of what future sports writing could be isn’t farfetched at all. It certainly brings into mind what future journalists will be writing about and how they will be writing about in the not so distant future.

“The problem was that everyone has biases, whether they are political or personal or people they like or don’t like,” Scott said. “Even though reporters tried their very best to remain impartial, biases inevitably snuck into reporting.”

“In today’s world that’s all changed,” Scott said. “The Internet has allowed for so many niche sites that I think it’s not only acceptable to outwardly tell readers about your biases or fandom, as is usually the issue in sports writing, but it’s also encouraged. With so many options, people can get multiple angles on the same story and in each case they can consider the source and form their own opinion.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Kevin Durso

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Special Project

Title IX Redefined Website

Produced by Cabrini Communication
Class of 2024

Listen Up

Season 2, Episode 3: Celebrating Cabrini and Digging into its Past


Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap