Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Shoddy reporting at its best (or worst)

My cell phone buzzed early Tuesday afternoon with a text message from a buddy asking, "Why is everyone happy about the Steelers firing Bruce Arians?" This was news to me, because I had heard nothing about the Steelers cutting loose their enigmatic offensive coordinator. A few minutes later, I received an e-mail from another friend asking if Christmas had come late for Yinzer Nation?

What was going on? Where were these "news" reports coming from?

Then I found a Tweet by ESPN Radio 1250 reporter Ken Laird signaling that Arians would be fired... eventually... maybe. Ahhhh, yes: Twitter... where all shoddy reporting goes to die (unless it resurrects itself as the truth a few days later).

His Steelers Blog was no more definitive. The headline shouted "Bruce Arians OUT". But when you clicked on the link, Laird merely reported that he was "hearing strong rumblings that the Steelers are going to let go offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. As to when this will officially be announced by the team, I am not sure (presumably by the end of the week)."

Splendid reporting, Ken. So, BA might be fired, and if he is, it might happen on a day that ends in a Y. That's like me saying that I might have a job offer, and it could come at the end of the week (or not at all).

Of course, this sent the Pittsburgh media into a tizzy trying to locate the source of these rumors. And by the end of the day, not a single media outlet had any information. They only could cite Laird and his "strong rumblings." How lazy can the media be to report a single reporter's hunch/inside source that something might happen. Everyone was so concerned about getting the story before another competitor, they seemed to disregard the fact that Laird could be wrong.

Now I watch from the sidelines as a bunch of purported professions stoke the rumor mill fires. If Laird's report is correct, then he will be seen as a veteran reporter getting the story right before anyone else. And if he's wrong... well, what was that Tweet about again?


  1. Here's the link from KDKA itself, yesterday...

    which, of course, cites Ken Laird as the source :-)

    I admit, I blew that s**t up on the innerwebz when I saw it... but I figured since it was coming from KDKA, it was legit... it's not like I retweeted Laird (whom I do not follow, nor do I know who he is...)

  2. You would think it would be legit if it came from a "reputable" news source. But I think that definition is changing with the advent of the Web. The Internet telephone game can spin out some pretty nutty rumors.

    I respect a news organization more if it refuses to report someone else's coverage. Then, when it nails down a source, runs its original reporting. Rarely does that happen in TV and radio.

  3. In times like these, there's only one guidline to follow: W.W.E.B.D?

    What Would Ed Bouchette Do?

  4. And down goes Laird. (if the P-G is to be believed)

  5. When I worked for UPI, our approach was to be first when we could, but to always be right. Nowadays, it's common to toss out rumors and hope they come true. Sloppy.

  6. Ken Laird will probably get a payraise this month for generating so many listeners on 1250 this week.