For reasons not quite obvious, we haven’t gotten into a full-blown battle with a member of the media in months, if not longer. (Actually, it’s been seven months.)
The easy explanation is that we’re now part of the establishment, given our relationship with NBC, and that we’ve been behaving more responsibly, consciously or otherwise.
But the reality could be that we’re simply focused on the football now, and as we try to be the definitive one-stop shop for all NFL news and rumors, we don’t want to waste time getting into a pissing match with someone else who covers the sport.
Fueled, however, by a recent suggestion that we’ve gone a little soft since adorning a corner of the page with peacock feathers, we’ve recently been making a deliberate effort to toss a little more edge into the operation. For example, in Friday’s nightcap post regarding the grossly-one sided Flozell Adams item at the Cowboys’ official web site, we asked aloud why the team didn’t simply send out a press release instead.
It was part joke, part constructive criticism. We’ve read and re-read the results of Nick Eatman’s “exclusive interview” of Adams, and it essentially represents an exercise in transcribing Adams’ words with zero attempt to scrutinize his explanation or to present the views of others who might disagree with Adams’ facially implausible position that he’s not a dirty player.
Frankly, it was Eatman’s decision to whip out the “exclusive interview” tag that caused us to make a snide observation regarding the lack of objectivity inherent to the finished product. We don’t like the term “exclusive interview,” since it essentially amounts to the interviewer wearing a groove into his or her own back under circumstances that don’t warrant it. In many cases, “exclusive interview” means that the subject of the interview was talking only to one reporter at that specific time, even though the person previously or subsequently spoke with one or more other reporters, also in an “exclusive” setting.
In this case, it’s entirely possible that Flozell Adams will be talking to no one else, likely because he realizes that the entity least likely to make him look bad is the web site owned and operated by the football team for which he plays.
Anyway, we mention all of this because our throwaway press-release remark resulted in Eatman sending in an angry e-mail. And not using the “off the record” qualifier.
Here’s what he said: “I think it’s funny that you completely discredit what we do on our site. Yet you have no problem stealing it without giving any credit. . . . We don’t write press releases and we never have. . . . And you probably know this by now. None of the other writers you probably respect could get [Adams] to talk to them today, this week or really ever. I think that was a cheap shot at me and our website on your way to using it for a top headline. You’re welcome.”
First, we never “steal” anything. We always give credit for things that are reported elsewhere, and we’ll stand on eight years, one month, and 12 days of work product as proof of it. (Indeed, many writers and reporters now regard PFT as the unofficial NFL wire service, and they send us links to their work so that we will include it on the site.)
Second, we wonder whether Eatman has wondered whether Flozell Adams would have said anything to Eatman other than “get out of my face before I trip you” if the two men didn’t have a common employer. And we’d love to know what Eatman said to Adams to get him to talk. Or whether Eatman really had to say anything, given the name of the publication for which he writes.
Third, Eatman’s protest is understandable. It’s not the first time he has faced scrutiny regarding the reality that he writes for something other than an independent news organization. In October 2008, Eatman and ESPN’s Ed Werder got into a verbal back-and forth after Eatman accused Werder of trying to stir things up and Werder questioned the credibility of a writer who works for the very entity that he’s covering.
Here’s the bottom line. Anyone who writes for a web site owned by the organization that the writer is covering has, at a minimum, an apparent conflict of interest. So everything the writer writes must be regarded with that reality in mind.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to enjoying this morning’s offerings from NBC. On my Time Warner cable hookup. Which is significantly inferior to Comcast.