Friday, May 27, 2005


Media Bias, sometimes it is just laziness and the desire to spice up the news

We have a friend who lives in Chicago who has gained some notoriety due to his job. I'll leave it at that to protect his identity. Early on in his career he decided to spice up his resume by claiming he had attended a famous university but quit to pursue his dream. Well that fact got reported and was included in his profile and it has followed him around ever since. No harm really, he never did attend that university and I imagine a phone call could confirm that but no one has bothered. Why? I guess because it really doesn't matter. It doesn't mean anything to his career. It is a good story, like Bill Gates leaving Harvard, it shows someone consumed by the need to fulfill a dream and not going about it in a conventional way.

I thought of that story when I was reading this story:

According to the article, Moss went thru a sprint workout in the morning
that lasted three hours. Then, I suppose, he ate and rested before going to the
gym in the afternoon to lift weights for, get this ... another three hours!? Now
the first workout took place OUTSIDE. Where outside? Well, how about the south
Florida sun, for starters. You know, I’ve lived here in Tampa, Florida, for six
years now, and Moss lives further south than I do. And let me tell you
something. Nobody, I mean NOBODY, runs SPRINTS for three hours in the south
Florida (or Tampa) sun. Not unless they have a death wish. And Randy gets paid
too much money to have a death wish.

The article referred to was a profile of Moss in Sports Illustrated. The author had his own story about dupping a reporter:

Many years ago, when I was a member of the University of Iowa wrestling
team, a reporter from Sports Illustrated hung around for a few days, watching
and interviewing the team for an article. The reporter was particularly
interested in our training methods. And we told him about running the stairs,
doing buddy carries, wrestling for hours, having three workouts a day, and so
on. The reporter wrote it all down. No questions. A little common sense would
have let him know that we didn't follow the "legendary" routine day in and day
out. And the article made it sound like EVERYDAY was like this in the Gable

Does it matter that Moss might have exaggerated his workout to a reporter?

In the last week or so I have received a good many letters from kids who are working out 3-5 hours a day. And they write about how tired they are, and if there is something I can recommend that they can take (WARNING SIGN PARENTS) so they can work out more. They actually believe the stories in the magazines and newspapers. And by the way, many parents believe this, too, and tell their kids this it what it takes.

There is a chance that some kid is going to read this story and try and emulate Randy Moss and he is going to hurt himself. Is the reporter to blame if his source lies to him? How far must a reporter go to check a source. I think laziness in the the field of journalism starts with stories like this. No one gets hurt if someone embellishs their lifestory or adds a couple of hours onto their workout routine. But sometimes people do get hurt and the truth is always hurt.

Diego's Additonal Thoughts:
As in the case with the University claim once something gets on your 'fact sheet' any reporter who wants to run a story will just get a copy and go with what is printed on it. I doubt anyone cares to update it.

I remember seeing a brief headline and obit when Morton Downey Jr. died. He had a TV show that I recalled seeing, it was of the Jerry Springer variety. I was surprised to read that he wrote the 60's hit 'Wipeout'. A web search confirmed that this was true. Sorry I have no links, they appear to be gone now, but I think the 'Wipeout' credit was distributed by the AP. It was not very important but I thought it funny and followed up later and found that there were others who claimed credit for 'Wipeout' and like Downey, they were lying. The point is that it got put on his 'fact sheet' once and stayed there for others to copy.


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