Discussion: What Do You Expect From Baseball Writers On Twitter?

 Mar, 22 - 2010   no comments   Uncategorized

Twitter has entirely changed how baseball reporters and writers deal with the information that they collect and how they interact with their readership. Ken Rosenthal chimed in on this topic last night (h/t @crashburnalley):

Early in my career, I would lose sleep if I reported something inaccurately, even worry about losing my job. The standards now are much lower; too often, the emphasis is on being first rather than factual. Many stories lack nuance and context, particularly when reported in 140-character tweets.

I’m not preaching from any mountaintop here — I pride myself on accuracy, but occasionally make mistakes, too. It is the nature of the business now. It is not a step forward. And from the perspective of an executive such as Williams, it is just one more hassle.

Rosenthal is right, as the nature of Twitter sheds details from stories and often leads to misinterpretations by readers and fans. Furthermore, the offhand nature of Twitter tends to make it impossible for readers to distinguish whether a tweet is the writer’s opinion or is based on actual reporting. We had one example last night from Jon Heyman, asSteve clarified this morning. Heyman was just stating an opinion about Joba Chamberlain, but a number of people ran with the story as if he was reporting it. Similarly, Mark Feinsand sent out the following tweet this afternoon:

Yankees postgame notes: M. Rivera has hamstring injury; J. Vazquez among latest round of roster cuts.

The actual notes referred to Mike Rivera and Jorge Vazquez, but some believed that Mariano Rivera was hurt and a mini-panic started. When Feinsand revealed that he was just kidding around, most shrugged it off and laughed, while others were fairly upset (others ran and wrote a blog post). This lead me to think about these reporters and their responsibilities when using Twitter.

Being that people follow them due to their status as baseball writers, do they have a responsibility to maintain similar journalistic standards to those they are expected to have on their blogs and in their papers? Should the writer assume that everything he says about the team will be taken as an act of reporting unless otherwise denoted? Or is it the responsibility of the reader to filter the information and assume that Twitter reporting is less likely to be precise or accurate?

I lean towards it being the responsibility of the writer to contextualize all of his team-related tweets. A simple IMO (in my opinion) can delineate between reporting and analysis or opinion, and avoiding misleading data can be done with just a little bit of diligence. However, being that reporters are still figuring out the medium, I think that readers need to be cognizant of the fact that the standards on Twitter are lower at this point, and use the information accordingly.

How do you feel about this issue?

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