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On Mike Florio and Glass Houses

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On Mike Florio and Glass Houses

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.

Money quote:

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.

Emphasis mine.

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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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (28) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Chicago Hooligan's picture

Did you read the NFP piece where Mike Lombardi tore him a murder of new assholes? This was after Mike Florio tried to start this huge controversy about Lombardi allegedly not writing his columns and posting plagiarised material (or maybe that came after; there was some pretty good drama there for awhile).

packeraaron's picture

I remember that exchange well.

Pack Fan In Enemy Territory's picture

Does NFP delete their stories after each season? I tried to find this Lombardi/Florio article you both speak of, but their articles only date back to this year.

PFT has archives, but it seems NFP doesn't. I would much appreciate it if someone could explain this to me, as I'm fairly new to the internet(or at least I never frequented it up until about a year & a half ago).

Chicago Hooligan's picture

I tried some creative Googling but NFP re-designed their site last year and I don't think any of their columns from before then are cached. Oh well.

DaveK's picture

The guy has a huge audience and with it should come some additional responsibility. He can't just hide behind being a non-journalist who runs a rumor mill when thousands of people daily read what you write and it has the power to change public opinion of people, organizations, and events. That large readership gives him access to legit inside information but it also opens him up to be used by someone with an agenda who isn't telling the truth and I think that happens more then Mike is willing to admit.

Pack Fan In Enemy Territory's picture

Florio is nothing but trash. period.

Just go read his posts regarding Tebow & his faith.

He has pulled out all the stops to try and discredit Tebow as a good person, even as much as making up stories about him.

The guy is pure filth!

packeraaron's picture

Come on - Florio is tame compared to some when it comes to Tebow. Anyone who goes out of their way to make their faith such a large part of their public persona is fair game as far as I'm concerned.

Pack Fan In Enemy Territory's picture

Mike Florio & the way he runs his site encompasses a lot of what wrong with people in the world today IMO.

For the record, I'm not religious in the least bit & was just using the Tebow posts as a reference to my point. I don't even really like Tebow, but the lengths that guy has & is going to to discredit him is pitiful.

Also, could you tell me when you get the time how Tebow goes out of his way to make his faith such a large part of his public persona? I don't know if I agree with you & was wanting you to elaborate a little.

packeraaron's picture

"could you tell me when you get the time how Tebow goes out of his way to make his faith such a large part of his public persona?" - the guy puts different Bible passages on his eyeblack every week for God's sake. (No pun intended) and made a national television commercial for a Christian organization.

As for "the lengths" Florio has gone to to "discredit" him - Mike is using controversy to drive traffic to his site. Nothing more, nothing less. You can always feel free to object to said content by not visiting his site. If you do choose to visit, you know what to expect.

PackersRS's picture

First of all, Florio is spot on about McShay. The guy is terrible. Just. Terrible. He's right in every aspect of his post about him.

But, nonetheless, PFT, though I read it daily, is the TMZ of football. They sometimes provide breaking news. But more often than not, it's pure and utterly garbage.

To me, the rule of "news" on PFT is pretty simple:

1) If it's pure information, it's great. They're usually ahead of everybody else.

2) If it's pure opinion, then it's fine. I sometimes agree with him, sometimes not.

3) If it's information with comments/opinions, than it's not worth anything. Because it's usually a meaningless information, but Florio makes it look like it's a big deal. It's when the sensacionalist side of the site shows it's ugly face. And nobody decent should want to look at that.

CSS's picture

I picked up on the Todd McShay/Mike Mayock pattern last year. It is UNCANNY how McShay patters his changes and discussions based upon the changes and discussions of Mayock.

Not excusing Florio, but McShay is a plagerist.

packeraaron's picture

That's just it - I agree with the entire McShay post. He's a made-for-tv analyst. Nothing more.

PackersRS's picture

Plus, he's so tanned, it's uncanny!

dgtalmn's picture

Cool discussion, best part no discussion of former players. I personally take everything written with a grain of salt. You know entertaining :)

jerseypackfan's picture

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=5027351

Watch the part where McShay gives his take on WR Demarius Thomas. He stole that from Mayock who spoke about him a day earlier on NFL Network.

Jayme's picture

Just saw that Colledge received an offer from St. Louis. Should be interesting to see if the Packers match it or just take the draft pick.

Jayme's picture

Ok Ok Ok, that was a lame April Fools joke, you may return to the featured discussion of your favorite "journalists."

FITZCORE1252's picture

Very lame.

CSS's picture

Sounds good. You're free to continue referencing your notoriously anonymous scouts and insiders that offer up information my 12 year old moderately literate niece could piece together from watching one episode of ESPN and reading the 'Onion'.

Keith's picture

I've never been a fan of Florio because, for lack of a better word, I think he's a dick. While I respect Aaron's point about the difference between bloggers and journalists, I will have to respectfully disagree.
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I will utilize PFT's "About" section to illustrate my point. PFT makes the following claim:
<blockquote>
we beat the “big boys” in the media to the punch every so often on a big story
</blockquote>
Later, after finishing with a description of the site's offerings, comes this qualifer:
<blockquote>
We’re the first to admit that we don’t always adhere to pure journalistic standards.
</blockquote>
-----
My issue with PFT is that it is a blog that masquerades as a news source. The problem is that PFT beats its chest about scooping the "big boys," but this statement is essentially a crock of shit because they're not playing by the same rules. Do you really think PFT gets a story before Adam Schefter or Peter King? Perhaps they do some of the time, but I would bet most of the time Schefter and King have to sit on a story because they must follow the more rigorous code of professional journalism.
-----
But hey, I get it. There is a difference between bloggers and journalists. I understand the mission statement of PFT and how their bread is buttered. I just don't want to hear bloggers whine and complain about not being taken seriously or when they aren't issues press credentials.
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Now, I don't want to come across as someone who hates bloggers. After all, I dabble in blogging myself and I do believe there are many respectable bloggers out there who take their position in the media (and yes, they are members of the media whether they like it or not) seriously. Aaron, for example, almost flawlessly balances being an opinionated news source. He is usually respectful, even when perturbed. However, Cheesehead TV is presented as a Packers blog, inferring that there will be a Packers slant. Further, after reading the site for 30 seconds, you will realize that the site disseminates news through the lens of its lead writer.
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PFT, on the other hand, wants to have its cake and eat it too.

ACDC84's picture

"Did you read the NFP piece where Mike Lombardi tore him a murder of new assholes? This was after Mike Florio tried to start this huge controversy about Lombardi allegedly not writing his columns and posting plagiarised material (or maybe that came after; there was some pretty good drama there for awhile)."

Not trying to ruin your great story with some truths, but WTF are you talking about? Florio came across the plagiarism situation initially with an open mind:

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2008/12/02/a-stunning-case-of-inter...

After some time and research, he came to the conclusion that Lombardi was the VICTIM, not the criminal:

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2008/12/02/its-not-looking-good-for...

Later, both Lombardi and business partner Andrew Brandt both publically thank PFT for bringing this to their attention.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2008/12/02/brandt-lombardi-claim-pl...

But yeah, Florio is just an ignorant close-minded prick. Yea, and Aaron Kampman is the most class-less guy to ever wear the Green and Gold.

packeraaron's picture

Actually, ACDC84, BOTH incidents happened. Florio and Lombardi had their pissing match first, just after NFP launched, then the story you lay out here happened.

AC's picture

I hate this new trend of journalist/blogger Internet/Twitter fighting. Annoying.

CSS's picture

Hate to admit it, but I actually think it's somewhat healthy and overdue. Some bloggers (not looking at you, Aaron) attempt to pass off their material as an objective story and/or factual in nature. Some journalists writing for noteworthy papers think they can blur the line by maintaining objectivity in print articles and and make obnoxious statements on their blog or twitter. I honestly believe internet users have a hard time differentiating the subjective from the objective and people need to be called out for it on occassion with each group clearly defining what it is their blog, paper, magazine or website do.

Oppy's picture

It's not just Internet users who have a hard time differentiating between the subjective and objective, it's an entire generation of American citizens.

The number of times I've read/heard someone start a sentence with "FACT:", only to finish it off with what is obvious opinion is frightening. Our educational system is failing in the basic objective reasoning arena.

Oppy's picture

Sports commentary and analysis is usually subject to popular trends/opinions and buzz words of any given moment. Considering a sports analyst or commentator a plagiarist for modeling or changing his views based on someone Else's views seem almost comical. The same canned phrases and lines and critiques get thrown around day after day by most of these talking heads and columnists- even the "reputable" ones. Examples? Think about Brett Favre, the "Gunslinger", the guy who "plays for the love of the game" and "Looks like a kid out there", "Plays the game like it was meant to be played", etc, and so forth. Think about a few years ago when it was obvious you don't put your starters in position to be injured when your team clinches early, and fast forward to everyone and their mother demonizing the Colts for benching the starters with so many games left. It's a flock of lemmings out there in the general Sports Media.

When you find the guys who DON'T spew the same-old, same-old... That's when you might have a good one. Well, or a guy who just makes stuff up :)

Ruppert's picture

Florio: He walks like a lawyer, talks like a lawyer, and quacks like a lawyer...because he's a lawyer. Not to besmirch ALL attorneys, but some of them are slimeballs. And when Florio writes/talks, I just think of slimeball lawyer. He's very shrewd. I'm sure he carefully calculates the effect everything he writes will have upon the marketing of his site...including the latest McShay incident (of which I happen to agree with Florio). I'm sure Florio is very happy with all the hullaballoo. And overall, I'm fine with PFT. He comes on KFAN every now and then and he says some good stuff.

Nick Sargent's picture

The problem isn't that Florio used anonymous sources, it's that he used anonymous sources to attack a guy for using anonymous sources. It's insanely hypocritical even if he doesn't have to abide by journalism rules just because he plies his trade on the Net.

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