Sports journalism: Getting the facts straight

Sunday, September 7, 2008

By: Hannah Pickett

In today's NFL game, Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots, the outcome on the scoreboard seemed to be irrelevant after NFL MVP Tom Brady was escorted off the field by a pair of trainers with an injury that sat him out the remainder of the game. The media claims that Brady is the face of the Patriots. Minutes following Brady's game-ending injury via Bernard Pollard tackle in the first quarter, ESPN reported to its online readers that Brady tore his ACL.

The outcome of the game-the Patriots defeating the Chiefs by a score of 17-10, was irrelevant due to ESPN's premature release of injury. Of course it was exciting for New England fans to see the Patriots defeat the Chiefs with Matt Cassell stepping in for Brady, but the desired interview and release of information was from either Brady or his trainer.

The released information from the Patriots' coach, Bill Belichick, was unsubstantial, saying that he had nothing to add to the fact that Brady had a knee injury.

MSN reports that Belichick said, "They're looking at him, doing some tests on him, so I don't have any information there," the coach said, cracking a smile as he added, "doubt anybody's interested."

The fact that ESPN had reported Brady suffered a torn ACL that would bench him for the rest of the season stirred up a lot of commotion for NFL fans; online, especially. ESPN automatically removed the report from their website that stated Brady tore his ACL and replaced it with a story titled, "Brady's injury unclear: suffers knee injury and Pats don't sound optimistic."

Fox Sports' report on Brady's injury and the game outcome-just stating the facts, no speculations- had 810 posted comments regarding the injury controversy at the time of this post.

The uproar that ESPN's speculated injury report caused shows the importance of only stating the facts when it comes to journalism. It is important in all journalism, but is rarely thought about in sports-there is a game winner, there is a loser. In this case, the winner and loser wasn't as important as getting the facts straight with a star quarterback's injury.


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