I want to start out by saying I don’t care for Kenneth Starr, and I don't care about Baylor University and college football in general. I believe, without specific personal knowledge, that skilled athletes get away with a lot of stuff, including, probably, serious crimes like rape.
What I’m writing about here is that all over media it was reported last night that Kenneth Starr, the famed ex-Clinton persecutor and for the last six years the president of Baylor, had been fired for ineffectively dealing with reports of rapes allegedly committed by Baylor football players.
As far as I can tell, at the moment, those reports are not true, though it would seem, they might be, soon. Yet, it is for good reason that news organizations that want to print heavy duty news--like an administrator seemingly covering up rapes--needs some independent sourcing.
One peg below that is to report the unconfirmed firing with a headline that makes it clear that the story is not verified.
So, in that old-school journalism, the headline “Mayor Doe Is A Crook” would become, at the very least: “Is Mayor Doe A Crook?” or, if reporting somebody’s else’s reporting, it would be something clunkier, like: “Report Says Mayor Doe Is A Crook.”
Kenneth Starr wasn’t getting that until a new round of stories quit being so damn definite. “Baylor Fires President Ken Starr Amid Football Team’s Rape Scandal” says the Time Warner Cable News site out of Austin, as it has trumpeted since 6:40 pm EST yesterday.
Others seemed just as sure of their facts.
This story is kind of unusual. Its source is named. He’s a Time Warner Cable News sports “contributor” named Chip Brown, who said, but did not write, that Baylor’s board of regents fired Starr on Tuesday.
Sports Illustrated, like other news accounts, relied on a Web site, HornsDigest.com, that covers the University of Texas and other Texas college sports news. It’s not HornsDigest.com citing Sports Illustrated on a big story, which would seem to be the more customary route for stories like these.
An increased number of news outlets and stories has not been facilitated by a large number of reporters and editors to deal with the volume or speed. But now that a story’s “hits” can be measured, that has a direct impact on advertising.
And that has an impact on what will be put out there.
The faster the media, the more likely mistakes will be made. And the more that can be measured, the more that truth and fairness, can and is stretched. It is now, regrettably, a part of the environment you enable every time you are fatally disappointed by bottom-of-the-page click bait headlines about some “Unbelievably Shocking” news story that is really neither of those things.
Made you look.