You’ve got your media standards, he’s got his.

You might recall a story that recently popped up on the New York Times’ college sports blog, The Quad, about the recruitment of Jamarkus McFarland of Lufkin, Tex., who gave a verbal commitment to the University of Oklahoma.

That story rather sensationalized certain parts of McFarland’s recruiting process, particularly at the University of Texas – but keep in mind that was based on the kid’s own description of what he claimed to have experienced.  Needless to say, Mack Brown was less than pleased over what was published.  Matters became somewhat more strained when McFarland acknowledged to that some of the details he relayed to The Quad were “spiced up”.

The Times being the Times, eventually this sort of “he said, he said” stuff catches the eye of the paper’s ombudsman and we get treated to a rather tortuous nitpicking of the reportorial process.

… The Times asked McFarland to clarify his conflicting remarks, and after two days, he sent a text message that cleared up nothing. It said he had respect for Evans, that his school paper was written “to capture and inform my audiences,” and “I stand by this story and I have moved on.”

Adams said that since The Times article was published, her son has been the target of racial slurs from angry Texas supporters, and she said she would not let him talk to reporters in the future. But she defended Evans’s story. “An article was written, and I was very well pleased with it, and that’s that,” she said.

What really happened? I asked Evans how much he pressed for independent verification of the party. He said he asked for the name of the hotel, and McFarland could not remember it. The reporter did not ask who invited the young man to the party, who accompanied him or who else might have witnessed the lurid events.

Evans said that in retrospect, he could have done more to get independent corroboration of the party. But he said that McFarland and his mother had never misled him during their long association…

It seems to me that this is the sort of problem to expect when mainstream media decides to dip its toe into the new media waters of the Blogosphere.  Evans winds up in a sort of virtual no-man’s land with a story that had it appeared in a typical college football blogger’s post would have gotten some attention without being questioned too much – after all, the fact that McFarland did say those things about Brown’s program isn’t in dispute – that instead opens up questions about his journalistic integrity due to the story being published under the Times’ auspices.

And, no, I’m not saying I know what the right answer is here.  The Times has a reputation to protect that’s far different from a blogger like me publishing anonymously, that’s for sure.

But the irony of this hasn’t escaped me, either.


Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, The Blogosphere

7 responses to “You’ve got your media standards, he’s got his.

  1. Faulkner

    The Times quit caring about telling the truth years ago. Journalism itself is not what it once was. Sites like yours are good because you care about the topic you write about and are willing to get to the bottom of the story.


  2. Hackerdog

    I’m with Faulkner. The Times is simply trying to trade on the reputation it used to have. I put no more stock in the veracity of Times stories than those posted at the Huffington Post. Sometimes they’ll be right. Sometimes they’ll be wrong. Sometimes they’ll be invented from whole cloth. But it sure used to be a good paper.


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  4. Ally

    Just curious, is there any word on whether McFarland’s claims of the recruiting shenanigans (by each of the programs mentioned, quite frankly) will be investigated?


  5. Thayer Evans is a solid sports reporter working for what is still the most influential news organization in the world.

    Yes, the blogosphere is a nice addition to the spread of information, but there are 1 million blogs, some good, some bad, many just awful…

    Good for the NYT for being this rigorous about the accuracy and fairness of the article. I hate Texas U more than any other school (including Florida), but that article, as hilarious as it was, was way too uncritical of McFarland and his mom.


  6. Hate to say it but NYT has little reputation left to pony up right alongside their non-credibility problem. Hmmmm……and besides that its written by a bunch of yankees. Is there a reason we should care about this?


  7. Hmmmm……and besides that its written by a bunch of yankees.