Brees’ record isn’t tainted by how he earned it but by reporters’ accounts

21 Feb

The NFL article on Drew Brees breaking the single-season passing yards record exemplifies the fact that editors cannot simply edit for grammar and spelling errors. Editors must also edit for content, clarity, accuracy and bias.

The NFL story is poor journalism. The story headline and main point are based on a CBS sports online article they link to. The CBS article is not a good concrete basis for a story. It basically takes the opinion of one unnamed Falcons player and assumes that his opinion is the consensus of the entire team. The article bases its whole argument on that one point. It is also full of speculation. The CBS story reports that the Falcons coach did congratulate Brees and quotes the coach’s congratulatory words. But, the writer then goes on to speculate and says, “Smith wouldn’t say anything negative about the decision to go for it, but his body language during the drive said it all.” How does he know that the coach didn’t actually mean it when he congratulated Brees? This is not responsible journalism. Perhaps if this was a blog, the writer could assume, brainstorm ideas, express his opinions and complain. But, this was a news story. His comments and speculation undermine his credit as an objective journalist. It was as if the writer already knew what he thought before he wrote or interviewed anyone. Then, he found one anonymous player whose quote would support his opinion and ignored all of the other information. This doesn’t make for very credible and reliable journalism.

The NFL story was then written using the unreliable, biased story written by CBS as a source. It links to the CBS story to back it up. But, if the editors of the NFL story had taken the time to actually read the CBS story, they would have realized it was not a good story to use as a base and reference. Both stories should have focused more on the actual news event, which was Brees breaking the record. An objective account of the game with more information on statistics would have been a reputable story to publish. The Washington Post does a nice job of reporting on the event.

I am not a huge sports fan, but I do know what running up the score means. There has been debate over whether it is alright or unsportsmanlike to score as many points as you can by the end of the game, even if your team is already winning by a large margin. There is disagreement on the issue, as illustrated perfectly in a article on running up the score. On the one hand there is the opinion that it is only a game, and the players should play their hearts out. On the other hand, some believe that running up the score is unnecessary and disrespectful to the other team.

I tend to have the mindset that it is just a game. A team should try to score as many points possible. After all, it isn’t hurting anyone. But no matter where one lands on the issue, one thing is for sure. If you are writing a news article on the matter, report on the news and save your opinion for heated debates with your sports buddies. Those opinions have no place in the news room or in the news article, unless you’re working in the opinion section of course.


One Response to “Brees’ record isn’t tainted by how he earned it but by reporters’ accounts”

  1. Ronald R. Rodgers February 22, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    Well done, but response to this is missing: Read this headline – does text support hed or is it misleading?

    Excuse given here:

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