by Kent Sterling
I wrote a post Friday about some rumored recalibrations of the staff in the sports department of the Indianapolis Star, and as a result people there have asked about the journalistic ethics of reporting rumors, so I thought it appropriate to write about what this website does, how it operates, and what qualifies for posting.
At the very minimum, this will give users an accurate expectation of what happens here.
This is not a newspaper. I write about those things in which I have interest in the areas of sports and the media. This is not a who, what, when, and where site. It’s more about why. We don’t cover press conferences much as they rarely illuminate. What a coach has to say after a game holds very little interest for me. The coach almost never wants to be there, and the reporters almost always don’t want to do anything but induce a quote to fill a whole in a game wrap or column.
I am not a stickler for revealing sources. As long as I am certain that what has been told to me is true, I am comfortable writing it whether or not the sources want to be on the record or not.
When rumors are posted, they are clearly identified as rumors. In the Star post for example, in the headline itself, the word ‘rumors’ is used. When rumors are relayed in that post, that is how they are clearly identified.
More than anything else, that post was a warning to journalism school students to give them an understanding of how the media game works. There remains a misconception among the young that media can be a stable source of income, and they need to know what they are getting into. I hope everyone at the Star and elsewhere enjoy fruitful and secure careers. That almost never happens, but it is still worth hoping for.
Speculative journalism is a contradiction in terms, but speculation is interesting to me, so we speculate, and we do it with as much circumspection as possible.
What’s the most fun to me is helping people tell their stories. I don’t want to know what people know – I want to know why they wanted to learn it. There is a great book that was written by a friend of mine, “The Talent Code”. The author, Dan Coyle, writes about why people get great at different things. That’s fascinating to me. When I talk to an athlete, my interest is in who they are and why they do what they do, not where they are going to school or whether they are going to sign a new contract.
The decision to go to a gym to shoot at 11p is interesting. How many shots the guy hit is not.
This site is more sportstalk than sports section.
If you are looking to kentsterling.com for inverted pyramid dry reporting, you will not be happy here.
I report nothing as fact unless I’m as certain as I can be about its veracity. Two sources is a good rule, and I follow it unless I get a first person account, but the majority of the time the facts are not in doubt when I write a post about something in the news.
Someone else’s work is never passed off as mine, and to make sure I don’t inadvertently pirate someone’s words, I avoid reading about a topic before I write. I’m a subscriber to the Star, but never read it until I’ve written in the morning.
I hope the rumors I heard about the shuffling at the Star are wrong, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interesting or inappropriate to offer as content in the context of an admonishment of soon-to-be professional media content providers.
And most importantly to me, what’s offered here always reflects an honest opinion, not some contrived effort to stir the pot. I am not paid by the page view, and have no interest in driving use through manufactured grandstanding.
Kentucky basketball fans have accused me for a long time of badgering them in order to boost attendance. They also believe I hate Kentucky. Both are ridiculous. I’m not a fan of how John Calipari builds a team, but that disdain has nothing to do with statistics or hatred for a university.
As a rule, I am ambivalent about teams, but passionate about the people playing. I used to be very team oriented, but after getting to know some athletes, it became clear that I was rooting for laundry, and that’s a waste of loyalty.
That should align your expectations with reality. Kentsterling.com is a place where I write what interests me, just as a sportstalk show is a place to say what’s interesting.