Unfair Smear Campaigns Need To Be Avoided

By Rich Coutinho
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We live in an age of instant messaging, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. We are inundated with rumors about players, trades, free agency signings and personnel movement. I understand all that because the sports media is a competitive playground. But when you have a week where two New York baseball stars — Ike Davis and Robinson Cano need to defend themselves needlessly, I say enough is enough. Where is the accountability?

Throwing unconfirmed information out into the twitter world is so damaging to individuals and is needless because an unsubstantiated story can be perceived as true to some.  You never can eradicate that because some bozo will bring it up when a player is slumping or under-performing. To me, it is the worst form of cowardice that there is and puts the player in a terrible situation. If he denies the rumor, people will question it. If he ignores the rumor, people will question it even more.

I would love to see the reaction of these rumor-slingers if their credibility was to be questioned in a public venue like Twitter and how they would react to it. Today’s media has the need to be first whether it is right or wrong, but to me being second and correct is the far better route to take. Fortunately, I work for people that believe in that philosophy.

So, what is the sports fan supposed to do? Not read anything?

Of course not, but read everything through a prism that separates realism from fantasy. Consider the source you are reading and more importantly their track record for getting the story correct. Understand that media people are no different from everyone else.  They have agendas too. Be wary of people who might just be trying to rattle your cage and get your attention.

Most of all, do not re-tweet or pass on a story you think might be questionable.

Twitter is a great tool if used properly but in the hands of a disingenuous blogger, it becomes dynamite and can destroy people. There may come a time in this country where tweeters would be held legally responsible for claims made on Twitter.

In the meantime, it is up to us to police it when we can so smear campaigns against players like Robinson Cano and Ike Davis can be avoided. There are so many hard-working journalists in the sports world who work around the clock at delivering correct information and in many way,s we serve our readers. Quite frankly, those writers comprise 99% of the media covering sports in this town.

It is that obstinate 1% of the media that concerns me.

Have Twitter rumor-mongers gone too far?  Let us know…

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