By: Eric Thomas
So Pro Football Weekly printed more anonymous criticism about the Lions, again, so Dom Raiola had to answer a bunch of questions about it. The once widely respected PFW decided to basically turn the entire publication into a blog comment section, with anonymous voices ripping guys who have to go on the record. Players have to talk to the media weekly, General Managers don’t. So Dom has to deal with this, unsure about who this person is, while the anonymous coward GM can attack him personally. PFW deliberately gave this GM the upper hand in the conversation, protecting him behind the sheen of privileged information.
If PFW wants some criticism from the Lions, I am sure there are plenty of fans who will go on the record. This doesn’t sting as much as it did the last time. The Lions have shown some signs of life, looking like a different team a week after chain sawing the leagues’ second worst team.
Anonymous sources ripping teams is nothing new, but this is odd because the publications don’t usually let someone use the anonymity twice. You don’t have a media outlet sending its previously good name down the river to manufacture the mental equivalent of a drunken Twitter battle. The anonymous source in question said in the story, “…and you can put that in print,” as if this idiot is showing spine by instigating this farce.
Integrity in sports journalism is a little spurious, admittedly. This isn’t Watergate. But PFW should understand it was giving all the advantage to the source in this instance. I had no problem with the initial story. But when Raiola came out and answered the GM on the record that should have been the end of it. On the record trumps off the record, always. But then to print another direct quote from the same guy now using personal information is where this gets out of hand. You got a lot of clicks on the last story, so be done with it. If the GM wants to continue running his mouth, especially if he is going to throw mud at Dom for running his mouth, he has to get on the record.
PFW took down the story when they heard complaints. They say it was from a reader but mark me down as skeptical. Since when does an individual reader have the ability to act as ombudsman for a website determined to act like TMZ or The Sun? I imagine maybe the Lions or other teams complained, or maybe other players. Glad they did. If this GM was given constant anonymity and carte blanche, this could go on for much longer and start to involve other teams. I think if a source is so burning with information that they gotta keep their name out, that’s fine, but you can only do it once.
Anonymous ripping isn’t just in sports. People get on the internet and freak out about movies, TV, comic books and politics. The attraction of anonymity is that you don’t ever have to accept the responsibility of being wrong. If the Lions win and Dom has a big play, not sure how for a Center but whatever, is this GM going to be forced into a mea culpa? Of course not, so there is no penalty. You look like Karl Rove this week on Fox News. If you’re going to state your opinion, you should be held accountable for that opinion.
Social media means that anonymous ripping is here to stay, and I’m fine with that. But it’s a different matter altogether when PFW decides to cut and paste this person’s views onto their website. They used their name and website as a weapon to inflict pain on an individual player. They are no better than any of the Internet trolls on Reddit or Twitter. The advent of the Internet has blurred the journalism line, but publications and media outlets can’t participate in the same nonsense that the trolls do. Google the story of “Violentacrez” if you want to see specifically why you don’t want to go down that road.
Keep it respectable. Sports journalism isn’t Watergate, but that doesn’t mean you should descend into the depths of petty Internet squabbles. People will say all kinds of horrible things if it means that that they can get attention, but that doesn’t mean that their opinion means anything.