The Old Gatekeeper Journalism vs. The New Open Journalism

from the which-one-works-better? dept

Reader MrSlovenian points us to a really interesting story that highlights one way in which journalism is really changing, and how the old “gatekeeper” mentality fails. It kicks off with a story posted last Friday on Yahoo Sports via “The Sports Xchange,” a service for syndicating news, written by veteran NFL reporter Len Pasquarelli. The story claimed that Indianapolis Colts defense end Robert Mathis was planning to hold out from training camp in an attempt to get an extension on his contract. Among the claims made by Pasquerelli was the following:

The Sports Xchange can report with some degree of certainty that Mathis ($2.41 million in 2011) has no intention of reporting to the club until/unless his contract is addressed.

Said one person close to the Mathis situation: “He’ll never play another snap there under that (existing) contract.”

Not surprisingly, an Indianapolis Colts fan blog, called 18to88, quickly posted the story and, at the same time, posted a direct Twitter message to Mathis, who uses Twitter. Pretty quickly, Mathis responded directly to the 18to88 writer, Nate Dunlevy, denying the story and noting that he wasn’t planning to hold out because the team had other priorities to cover, indicating that his demanding more money would hurt the overall team and some of the other players. Dunlevy posted a detailed update, praising Mathis for his “team spirit.”

So, at this point, we have a “veteran reporter” with a story on Yahoo Sports that quickly gets debunked by the main subject of that story responding to a question from a fan blogger on Twitter. The whole concept of the gatekeeper mentality of old school journalism was that it was the journalists who had the sources and that you, the lowly reader, had none. In the interactive world of today, that equation has shifted in many cases and the established press hasn’t quite realized it yet.

Case in point: two days after Mathis debunked the story on his own Twitter feed and Dunlevy had written about this, Fox Sports reposted the entire original Pasquarelli article claiming that Mathis was going to hold out. The story also got picked up by an NBC football blogger, which drove even more attention to the story.

This new national attention, two days after Mathis has publicly denied the same story, got fans upset at Mathis and had him (once again) publicly (and reasonably angrily) denying the story. After this whole thing was pointed out, the NBC blogger, Gregg Rosenthal, updated his blog post, but the Fox News story and the Yahoo story remain unchanged.

Dunlevy has written up a full explanation of all of this as well, summarizing the whole thing nicely:

  1. The mainstream story by a venerable reporter lacked any direct confirmation from the athlete in question in the story. Pasquarelli was obviously misled by a source. It happens, and it’s not necessarily his fault, though one does have to wonder if it was so easy to get a comment from Mathis about the issue why he didn’t manage to get one.
  2. The mainstream media released a story that had been publicly refuted two days earlier.
  3. It was online journalists that first found the story (me), sought to confirm the story (me), and then widely disseminated the story with the appropriate corrections (me and Rosenthal).

I don’t think this is a point about “online news” vs. “mainstream” news, so much as it’s indicative of a changing mindset in journalism as a whole. As mentioned, the old way was a gatekeeper way of thinking about things. Fact checking was done by the fact checking department and any corrections ran the following week in the small print. But that’s not the way it works any more. Modern journalists know that news happens in real time, that sources are not hidden in a vault somewhere and that stories are continually updated. Old school journalists and journalism operations miss all that… and look foolish as a result.

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Comments on “The Old Gatekeeper Journalism vs. The New Open Journalism”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Debunked is a pretty steep term here. At best, you have a denial by the principal person involved, which is on par with “I didn’t have sex with that women” (thanks Clinton).

All that the online news got over the “mainstream” was an additional quote of denial, not unusual under the circumstances.

My feeling is wait until they get to training camp, and see what he actually does.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘journalism’ is another fossil of the past clinging to its rotting glory as the ‘only source for news.’ News is people, and people are now more connected than could have been thought possible so theres no need for these people nd their sources, you can go to the horses mouth so to speak.

what i think so many people don’t realize is just how revolutionary instant communication and all the various tools built on top of it are.

the people who grew up with the world in their pocket are going to change the face of humanity.

Anonymous Coward says:

What’s rotting journalism is the fact that news is no longer a day old for those that want it sooner. To compete with near real time means that fact checkers don’t have time to check facts. By the time they do, they’ve lost the scoop.

Since most of the old guard are still clinging to paper products, it’s become an expensive option. You can pay daily or annual rates for the news or get your news free for the cost of an internet subscription.

Most of the tv news is no longer a news outlet. It’s a corporation and government outlet to tell just what they wish told with the spin they wish on it.

Real, true, and accurate, investigative reporting isn’t done anymore. This was what kept the government in check. It’s also what kept the more outrageous things corporations do because to be exposed was to suffer the consequences. Now neither seem to have any accountability.

Journalism has failed it’s most basic value to news. It is no longer a valued job description because the news groups now pull their news from syndication. They’ve had to do so because they’ve fired most of the reporters in cost saving efforts.

out_of_the_blue says:

Since this is "sports", they're "mouse-hole keepers" at most.

Sports — and Techdirt — is a haven from the big old nasty world that you don’t want to understand, don’t want to even know about.

Know how many people died in Iraq today? — No, and you don’t care. At least in the Vietnam war, every nightly news show had a body count. But the lesson of that was learned by the fascists, and now media outlets are firmly controlled, so the war — or whatever euphemism is current — drags on approaching twice as long as WW2.

Anonymous Coward says:

We also see instances where there are hundreds of fake accounts that claim to represent person x and they have followers in the thousands that know no different (or don’t care.) This is the new journalism? Picking through hundreds of accounts to get updates, and even those updates are frequently retracted (see entenmann’s recently.)

Somehow I’d like yet another medium shift. Twitter is several steps forward, several backwards.

txpatriot (profile) says:

So new media >>> old media. Seriously??

@Mike: thanx for the nine millionth blog entry about how the old media just don’t get it and how the new media are kicking their @$$. Y’know, it just might take 9,000,001 blog entries before this actually begins to soak in with your readers.

But that does beg the question: is it your readers who aren’t getting it, or you and the new media bloggers who aren’t getting it?

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