Ok, let me preface the rest of this blog by saying this. I’m not a professional journalist. I’m not pretending or going to pretend like I know anything more than what all the reporters with the Mets knew last night. I’m going to be a junior at Marist, I’m 20 years old. All of my Journalism credits include covering College Lacrosse and Soccer games and blogging about the Mets from afar. Almost everything I’ve learned is straight out of a journalism textbook or from a class lecture.
That being said, last night was in every way, shape, and form, a clusterf#$k. Let’s start with (what we now think) are the facts. The Mets and the Brewers had a deal in principle to send Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee for Carlos Gomez. The trade was pending a review of physicals, as is protocol. 99% of the time that’s just a formality, and the trade becomes “official” shortly after. However, the Mets supposedly were not satisfied with the information the Brewers were giving (or not giving, according to some) about Gomez’s hip issues, so they pulled out of the deal at the last minute. That’s not a bad move, or a panicked move by Alderson. That’s what every single GM in the league would’ve done. The problem is that the rest of the world had Carlos Gomez in a Mets uniform before anybody involved in the deal did.
It’s easy to point blame at Joel Sherman, he’s the guy who “broke the story” with this tweet, but it wasn’t all Sherman’s fault. While Sherman is to blame partially for this mess, it’s not because he was “wrong” per say.
Problem #1: The deal was not done. The deal was pending physicals, and Sherman knew that, as he tweeted this out one minute later
Problem #2: That should’ve been the first tweet. The problem is that when you tweet out that it’s a done deal, that’s the tweet that gets all the air-time. That’s the tweet that’s going to be cited by every website or blog, and that’s the tweet that’s going to get twitter going. That’s the sexy tweet. But if you’re doing journalism the right way it isn’t supposed to be sexy. Journalists aren’t sexy. Journalist’s are the smart ones, TV guys are the sexy dumb ones. You give the correct facts and you get credit accordingly. When you push for credit, you get burned.
Ken Rosenthal said brilliantly in a column that he published this morning about what happened last night:
“A 140-character tweet offers little room for context, but I’m not sure context was the initial problem Wednesday night; the problem was more of portrayal, of creating an opportunity for misinterpretation. The information had to be specific, had to include the necessary caveat. And once the Twitter wheel began to spin, too many reports did not.”
It would be dumb to criticize what the reporters were doing last night. There was a lot of information coming in and once the floodgates open with the initial tweet, the waters become so muddied with fake sources and non credible stories, that it makes sifting through reports and choosing what to believe in and of itself a tough job, let alone figuring out what to report.
I know what my Intro to Journalism professor would say about last night. He would fall back on the “First be right, then be first” mantra that reporters like to pride themselves on. However, in today’s world of social media and breaking news within moments of it happening, that first be right ideal is almost impossible. There are a million beat reporters in the Mets clubhouse on a day to day basis, not to mention all the Mets bloggers and baseball writers hovering over their every move (myself included) waiting to pick at their stories like vultures and push it out to the world for page views, and criticizing them when they’re wrong.
Were there mistakes made last night? Absolutely. Whether or not they were mistakes that were avoidable is a different story. It may seem like a joke, but Mets’ beat reporters haven’t had to cover a team that’s in contention for almost a decade. This is the most active the Mets have been since…maybe ever! Nobody is trained on how to handle news that is coming out quicker than you can refresh a page. Should we expect credibility from our reporters? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. This doesn’t change that. Joel Sherman is still one of the best in the world at what he does. He was given solid info and ran with it. He got burned. Sure, you can be naive and pretend like all you care about is getting the right information, not just the rumors, but the second you log on to your twitter you’re putting yourself into a position for this to happen, and I’m fine with that. I do it, my job is on twitter. Just don’t complain that you’re being misled when you’re following a blind man.
If you want the facts, read a fucking newspaper.