Monday, February 21, 2005


Truth in Reporting: Who do you Trust?

"Trust - who do ya?
Trust - what makes U a real lover?
Trust - I put this question to ya
Cuz I want U 2 be with me"

"Trust" – Prince

One of the most important ‘inventory’ items a media member/company can have is ‘trust’. We, the consumers of information, have to place a certain level of trust in the media to report the facts as they really happen, and report information that really happened. Unless you are reading an Al Strachan’s latest birdcage liner, you expect that the information you get some a media source is accurate and truthful.

We don’t have the resources to call up Dave Nonis and ask him "Hey, did you really trade Marek Malik for Pavol Demitra?". We can’t spend hours phoning various sources to get the real lowdown on daily events. We expect the media to do that for us, and to not present false information. Fact-Checking is one of the dirtiest and grimiest jobs you’d have in the media, but it’s also one of the most important.

"Check, re-check, and check again!"

This past weekend’s events really show what can happen when consumers put trust in the major media, and that trust is taken advantage of with sloppy reporting.

Both ESPN and The Hockey News, two of the largest media sources for NHL news, both reported that a new CBA agreement was imminent, and the season would be ‘uncancelled’. (See Offwing link for more details).

As I took a sabbatical from hockey this weekend (for the most part), none of this hoopla really affected me. I only saw the aftermath, and the shattered dreams of desperate hockey fans that won’t get their NHL fix this season.

Remember the boy who cried wolf? In Canada, we have SPORTSNET, one of three major sports networks. SPORTSNET is notorious for some trade-deadline-day misreporting, including a major bombshell about Sergei Federov being dealt (When he was with the Wings) in a blockbuster trade. SPORTSNET had reported the deal as DONE on their website.

The problem? The trade never actually took place! Just a couple hours later, the story vanished from the website. If you had missed the initial posting, you would have never known that such a fabrication existed.

This wasn’t the first time that SPORTSNET reported a trade rumour as fact, and it seriously damaged their credibility in my eyes. Now, on Deadline Day, I simply watch TSN (or go to for any breaking news on trades. I don’t really trust SPORTSNET much when it comes to reporting trades, at least not on Deadline Day. I know I’m not the only Canadian hockey fan who feels this way.

Once you lose the trust of your readers, you lose their respect and then their readership. In their rush to produce a breaking story before the other sources, THN and ESPN erred in reporting information that wasn’t true or wasn’t cross-checked with multiple sources.


As for myself and this weblog, I know I have made a few minor errors in my reports and analysis. They will usually be stupid errors that would be picked up if I spent more time editing my work. Since I am under time constraints, do not have an editor, and often spout my opinion in a waterfall of thoughts, I will be prone to making the occasional minor oversight.

When I write an article for any outlet (HF, Czech World Cup Site), I will take the time to do meticulous research and make sure the facts and stats I am reporting are 100% accurate. Fortunately, these articles can be edited to eliminate most ‘stupid’ mistakes.

When I do a study or analysis on this blog, or report information of any sort, I will back it up with a credible source and do my best to ensure that what I am reporting is true. I usually use major media sources for my information, because I can generally trust them to be reporting the true facts.

If I ever use a non major-media source to give out some information, it is because I have developed trust in whatever news they are giving to me. That said, nothing I report as ‘news’ on this weblog is really ever going to shatter the earth into single-size portions. If I ever did have access to ‘inside’ information that was really BIG, I wouldn’t report it unless I could cross-check the information with another credible witness. The major media outlets should certainly know better as they do this stuff every day and have the resources to ensure that their information is stated correctly.

Who do ya trust? Right now, I wouldn’t trust ESPN for anything related to hockey (Not like they had a lot of credibility going for them anyway), and I’d be wary of THN for the moment.

OK, that Demitra-for-Malik trade made me spray my tea. You are a bad, bad, man for playing that kind of a trick on me. :-p
Luckily for you, Pavol Demitra is a we couldn't dump Malik for him, even if we wanted to!(Plus the Canucks Defense can't really stand to be any weaker)

The trade rumours last season all involved the much maligned Brent "Giveaway" Sopel, and not much about Malik.

Of course, Pavol won't become a Canuck, despite my sacrifices and wiccan chants.
I think there just has to be a line: report a rumor as rumor. The source can't always be identified, but do so the best you can if possible and make sure everyone knows it's still a rumor.

The problem is all these major media outlets want to be able to say "you heard it here first" and jump the gun.

People don't forget about big mistakes like these, and if these networks keep crying wolf, like you said, we're never going to trust them.
It is getting harder and harder to trust the "media" Stan Fischler got caught recyling old quotes on the Fox Sports site, and hasn't been seen since. Locally I heard the News director of a local radio station offering a sports commentary, oddly I had a sense of deja vu. I had read Steve Simmons say the same thing that morining at
I will climb up on the bandwagon here too!

Now.. understand that I already have an anti-ESPN bias, I've been working on my on-air persona when I too hit it big in the broadcasting industry. My slogan? "Courage of Convictions"! I vow to stay true to my core beliefs and not become a sellout or subject myself to broadcast something I know in my heart not to be true.

Too many broadcasters these days are just way too fast and loose with their reporting and opinions. I call it "Howard Cosell syndrome" where it is important for the reporter to become just as iconic and a part of the story as the athlete they're reporting on. A journalist's job is simply to report the news! That's it.
Ive told to Marek Malik yesterday and he hasnt stated anything about Demitra trade. I think, that JGHR is s source I can not trust any more :)

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