Put on a pot of coffee and grab a pack of Lucky's. This could take awhile...
Yesterday, many people were a-Twitter (forgive me) about a post by Mike Florio over at Pro Football Talk wherein Mike took it upon himself to basically hold a public assassination of ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay. The post riled up both journalists and bloggers mainly because it consisted of blasts at McShay by one unnamed source who was basically given an open forum to unload. 'Legit' journalists saw Mike's actions as appalling. I maintained that he was doing his job.
This is probably another post unto itself, but the guy is a blogger. Not a journalist. He has worked long and hard to build the audience he has and he has done it doing exactly what he did yesterday, by offering up snarky, sensationalist content. Many journalists just can't wrap their heads around the fact that, no matter how popular his site gets, he's not beholden to the old 'rules of journalism' that they are. As I said yesterday, it is up to the public to be educated on the difference between bloggers and journalists. Again, this is probably a whole other post and I'm sure you, dear reader, will have some thoughts on the subject...
Fast forward eight hours or so to a follow up post from Florio about supposed 'conflicts of interest' surrounding agencies that represent not only athlete's but coaches and GMs, as well as journalists and/or broadcasters.
Conflicts of interest are rampant, and often intricate. Some agencies represent players and coaches, a practice that has troubled us for years but which continues unfettered. Some agencies represent players and coaches and General Managers, another potentially problematic stew of conflicting agendas. And some agencies have enhanced their player/coach/G.M. practice with the representation of journalists and/or broadcasters.
We're not saying that any impropriety is occurring or has occurred, or that any appearance of impropriety should be implied. But shouldn't the situation be disclosed so that the audience can decide for itself whether there's reason to question what the client of a given agency may be saying about another client of the same agency -- or about another player who is competing with that client for draft position?
Reading this last night, I found myself nodding and agreeing, and told Mike as much via Twitter.
Shortly after sending that Tweet, all hell broke loose in my Inbox and in my Direct Messages on Twitter, with most of the focus being on the following passage from Mike in the same post:
I've got no journalism training (and it routinely shows). But I generally believe that potentially compromising situations should be openly disclosed, and that the audience should be left to decide whether any compromising actually has happened.
Responding to this, more than one source wrote me the following:
"Would love to hear Mike talk about the fact that there are NFL agents who have been financial backers in his site. Has he ever talked about that publicly and how it has colored his coverage of certain players? Of course not."
"Florio has changed copy because of his relationships with agents."
"Everyone knows - and I've heard this from people that have or are working there - that Mike has NFL agents who have backed his site and he covers for their clients all the time."
I'm sorry - but that's pretty damning stuff for a guy who wants to be all high and mighty about people not being forthcoming with their conflicts of interest. Which is it Mike? EVERYONE, including yourself, should be open and honest about what is driving their public stances behind the scenes? Or only those that you deem a problem?
Look, I'm a big fan of Mike's site and the guys that he has writing for him - PFT is a can-not-miss daily read for anyone with any kind of interest in the NFL. And like I wrote above, the guy is a blogger and is not bound by the same rules of journalism that apply to those writers toiling away under old-school mastheads.
But that doesn't mean he's above being told he's full of shit on occasion - which appears to be the case in this instance.
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