AA And The Ombudsman: An Email Exchange

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Kudos to Ms. Schreiber for responding to my email inquiry so quickly and allowing me to post it in this space. Here is her response to the AA posting that I sent to her regarding Blogs, ESPN, and her interview in The Pilot........

On 10/2/07, Le Anne Schreiber wrote:

Thanks, AA. I was not misquoted, but I garbled my own thoughts by speaking too casually toward the end of a long interview with a former Times colleague. I don't in fact blame ESPN's mistakes on blogs. I do believe the internet and blogsosphere has had a large impact on how mainstream journalism is conducted. Rule of thumb in mainstream journalism used to be, you did not print rumors, period, even if they were labeled rumors, even if you were a columnist. You didn't put it out there, label it rumor, then wait to see if it was true or not. Idea of writing columns citing "rumor mill" as source of information would have been inconceivable. Idea of building opinion on top of rumor, speculation or unverified information was inconceivable. But pressure to fill 24/7 cable and online news, and pressure to satisfy curiosity stirred by rumors from blogs and other non-mainstream sources of info, who need not and often do not follow mainstream guidelines re rumors, has gradually led to mainstream journalism getting lax about how it handles unverified information. How many times have you heard or read mainstream commentators deliver opinions preceded by, "If this is true, then...." ? By the time something is proved untrue, the damage has already been done. What bothers me is that the lines between sourced reported information, opinion, speculation and rumor are getting very blurry, and my position is that rather than succumb to pressures to compete with non-mainstream approach to information, mainstream journalism needs to hold the line.
Best,
Le Anne
PS. I should never have said 90%, way too offhand and subjective.
PPS. If this makes sense to you, go ahead and post it as reply to your direct email.
______________________________________________________

----- Original Message ----- From: Awful Announcing To: Le Anne Schreiber Sent: Tuesday, October 02, 2007 1:55 PM Subject: Re: Pilot Interview

Very well put. That makes much more sense to me than what I gathered from the interview. Not being from that school of thought it's easy for me to gloss over the integrity that you speak of. The only issue I have is that ESPN (and others) started the "rumor" trend you mention. The trades they speculate at deadlines of any sport never come to fruition and for all we know they could be making them up just for viewers/internet clicks.

It is a strange and ever-evolving environment and I think there's room for both mediums, but that doesn't seem to sit well with Mainstream Media.

Thanks for your response and I look forward to the next article.

Brian Powell- Awful Announcing
And there you have it. Maybe there is some credence to the fact that bloggers get a bit too defensive about the credibility issue with blogs. The thing that everyone has to understand is that it's taken a ton of work to gain the credibility that this site has, and for anyone (I'm not accusing Ms. Schreiber of this btw) to say that blogs are full of rumors and non-truths just rubs me the wrong way. There's room for both mediums and hopefully one day MSM and everyone will learn that's the way it is.

As always, I'm interested in your thoughts good, bad, or indifferent.

Posted by Awful Announcing- at 2:52 PM

15 Comments:

Buds with the Ombudsman??? That was terrible of me.

GMoney said...
Oct 2, 2007, 3:49:00 PM  

kudos to Le Anne for replying!

Anonymous said...
Oct 2, 2007, 3:55:00 PM  

Le Anne?

I'd hit it.

The Hog Blogger said...
Oct 2, 2007, 4:04:00 PM  

Brian,

Well done with getting the response from Le Anne.

I think when people accuse bloggers of being rumor mills they often do so by painting with a broad brush. That's always bad.

We all know there are bloggers that will throw things up to see if it will stick. I find that irresponsible but they should not be blocked from doing so. It's up to us as readers to see through the B.S.

By the way, I have a new post up today...part one of two on Sports Media Journal's view of ESPN. Timely, no?

www.sportsmediajournal.com

Thanks for allowing me to respond.

Keith said...
Oct 2, 2007, 4:16:00 PM  

I guess only the big-time bloggers get responses from the bigwig herself.

Every time I make a comment (probably about 5-10 since the ombudsman thing started), I get a form e-mail from Scott Goldstein saying that "LeAnne appreciates your comments."

Anonymous said...
Oct 2, 2007, 4:57:00 PM  

Respect to Le Anne. Very classy of her to respond so quickly and provide some insight.

Kyle said...
Oct 2, 2007, 5:00:00 PM  

Should I check with ESPN now to see if your so-called "letter" is real?

You might have just made this response up.

Anonymous said...
Oct 2, 2007, 5:00:00 PM  

Hahaha....I guess that could be true. I'd double check ESPN.com for a response Anon.

Oct 2, 2007, 5:01:00 PM  

Ms. Schreiber is much too smart to be wasting her time on what goes on in Bristol.

-dan

dan said...
Oct 2, 2007, 5:02:00 PM  

"But pressure to fill 24/7 cable and online news..."

Sounds like the pressure is to drive traffic and satisfy advertisers' needs for said traffic rather than getting things correct. For that they can only blame themselves.

Oct 2, 2007, 5:46:00 PM  

"We all know there are bloggers that will throw things up to see if it will stick. I find that irresponsible but they should not be blocked from doing so. It's up to us as readers to see through the B.S." - keith

Exactly. How many times do you think someone can get away with making stuff up? People will simply stop reading someone with no credibility (unless he's flat-out hilarious, which is a whole different thing). Just as we can stop watching ESPN any time we get sick of their BS. We control that aspect of the relationship utterly.

Extra P. said...
Oct 3, 2007, 1:44:00 PM  

This is the most I've been impressed with Le Anne Schreiber since her turn as an assassin in the remake of The Manchurian Candidate.

goathair said...
Oct 3, 2007, 1:45:00 PM  

Interesting response. I thought about dropping her an email after I took issue with here thoughts on my blog. Glad to see she admitted the "90%" stat was a mistake. I respect her a great deal and think that she has a tough job wading through the various conflicts of interest and incessant hype ESPN spews. The fact ESPN has shown disdain for bloggers in the past i.e. calling Deadspin the underground made me think she was following that line of thought.

Tar Heel Fan said...
Oct 3, 2007, 2:21:00 PM  

Interesting interchange.

It's true the line between fact and rumor might be blurry. In this discussion, however, it is the reader/viewer that is being ignored. The onus is on the reader/viewer to understand that a story may be a rumor. If I read a story on a blog, I can recognize the difference (and usually the writer makes clear the difference) between speculation, rumor, and fact. Some people, however, don't seem to understand this difference, and aren't able to discern it (I wonder how many people read the Pro Football Talk Rumor Mill, which is explicitly marked as a place for RUMORS, as a completely straight news source--and indeed, sometimes straight news stories, opinions, and pure speculation are juxtaposed to rumors, making it a bit difficult to discern).

I think Schreiber needs to give more credit to readers of blogs and rumor mills: for the most part, we're able to understand a separation between rumor, fact, speculation, and opinion. And then we need to go further: does ESPN present data clearly as rumor, or is information sometimes difficult to discern BECAUSE OF THE WAY THE SPEAKER/WRITER PRESENTS IT. Blogs presenting rumors aren't the problem; news sources talking about rumors the same way they talk about straight stories is a bigger problem.

Pacifist Viking said...
Oct 3, 2007, 3:12:00 PM  

With respect, I think Ms. Schreiber is viewing the media through a rose-colored lens.

There were no blogs in Fatty Arbuckle's day or when Japanese-Americans were sent to Manzanar during WWII or during the HUAC hearings and yet reputations were decimated, innocent lives destroyed.

Blogs are just a high-tech version of folks standing over the backyard fence gossiping and ESPN is town crier. This is what people do and always have done.

(Human) nature abhors a vacuum. That it's filled a bit more quickly because of technological advances is interesting but ultimately irrelevant. You have to look deeper to understand why these stories hold fascination in the first place.

Panger said...
Oct 6, 2007, 5:15:00 PM  

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