Mar 2, 2011, 8:15 AM EDT
That’s the question a staff writer for the Dayton Daily News asks in the wake of that Jonny Gomes/Adam Wainwright thing:
When do the media go too far? Is every nanosecond of every day fair game for anyone who we christen as a public figure? As a reader, do you even want to know that kind of TMZ.com fodder?
Or are we somehow smarter for daring to report how few others do? As a reader, does that take you to the moment in a more intimate and revealing way that you appreciate more?
Just what are the media rules to play by?
I suppose these are interesting questions — and walking around clubhouses for the last week has me thinking about what’s cool and what isn’t cool to pass along — but they seem a bit presumptuous coming from the Dayton Daily News in the wake of the Gomes thing.
Because the way this seems to be shaking out is that this wasn’t a controversy borne of a reporter reporting what he heard in the clubhouse and people subsequently wondering if it was OK for him to have done so. It was a case of a reporter misreporting what went on in the clubhouse. Really: there were other reporters around when that Gomes thing went down, and they have different stories than McCoy.
There’s a saying that hard cases make bad law. Given the lack of clarity on the fact itself, the Gomes thing seems like a bad example to use to answer the question poised in the headline. It’s just too messy. It would be better if the stuff passed along from the clubhouse unequivocally and undeniably happened as it was reported. Then we could have a discussion about whether it was kosher to have so reported it.
Accuracy aside, here’s my only thought on it at the moment: the clubhouse is generally open to reporters for an hour or so, several hours before game time. If the clubhouse is such a sanctuary — and maybe it should be — why open it to reporters at all? By making it off limits most of the time, aren’t clubs strongly implying that there is a private time and a semi-public time and that, if they wanted to, they could make it all-private all the time?
But they didn’t. They have chosen to open it to people whose job it is to report what they see that they deem to be newsworthy to their readership. In light of this it strikes me odd that we would be forced to rely on some amorphous and unwritten rule of clubhouse reporting to take care of this stuff. Either a space is open to the media for all the good and ill that may lead to, or it’s not. For now it is open, at least for a little while, each day.
If I waltz into the Athletics’ clubhouse later this morning and hear or see something I think is newsworthy, I’m going to be hard pressed not to pass it along. I’ll make sure I’m positive that what I’m seeing or hearing is what I think I’m seeing or hearing, but really: if you let me in your room — and teams still have total control over who they let in their room — why shouldn’t I be allowed to talk about what I see?
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