Which is worse? Ethical lapses (Fox Sports) or editorial ones (Trib Sports)?

September 21, 2011

The Chicago Tribune did a great investigation into the Fox Sports package about Jay Cutler which was broadcast during the Bears/Falcons game on September 11, 2011. Fox did the 'ole "Ripped from the Headlines" bit where they revisited the supposed headlines of local newspapers after last year's NFC Championship game (of course, they were all of the 'Cutler sucks' variety). Examples included: Cutler Leaves with Injury; Cutler Lacks Courage; Cutler's No Leader. These headlines appeared on screen in the classic newspaper headline graphic. Then the announcer said "These are the actual headlines from the local papers in Chicago." The problem? They weren't.

The Tribune smelled something fishy and retired to their microfiche library to find out that no such headlines existed. Fox Sports subsequently acknowledged the screw up and said although the headlines weren't real, they were trying to capture the "sentiment."

Are you kidding me? So some producer needed media to support his or her television package and just made up headlines? To me, this has to be one of the bigger journalism stories of 2011.

So here are my questions:

1) Are NFL game broadcasts held to the same standards as sports reporting?

2) Do we hold sports media producers to the same standards as other journalists? We always seem to rip on bloggers for not understanding journalistic integrity, but do we expect the same from network television producers? They should know better, right?

3) Is this something they do ALL the time and are just getting called on it? Does this mean we have to look back and investigate Fox Sports packages on all football-related matters (for instance, can I really trust that the football player was homeless as a kid or did Fox make that up too?)

To me, this is a very serious breach of ethics. Does Fox Sports hate Jay Cutler? Is this personal? So many questions. It's unfortunate, too, that this occurred with a sports story because many will simply shrug it off as a story they don't care about or something that has no bearing on their day-to-day lives.

B story: Kudos to the Trib sports department for the report, but it still doesn't make up for the fact that you actually wrote up a story about Jay Cutler tweeting "Good Luck" to Kristin Cavallari before Dancing With the Stars. Sooooo, what's the word....stupid? There must be big page views in that SEO combination, eh Trib? I should ask the question: Which is worse? Ethical lapses (Fox Sports) or editorial ones (Trib Sports)?

C story: Anyone looking to create a theatrical production 'ripped from the headlines?' The deposition of Cicero President Larry Dominick is ready for the primetime. He's being sued for sexual harassment by a Cicero employee. He says he never touched her, but then there's this gem from a previous deposition (according to the Sun-Times):

In a deposition in a separate court case in February this year, though, Dominick testified under oath he would visit Starzyk’s home starting in 2005 when he was town president and “play with her dog and eat there and once in a while whatever came up sexually.

And scene.

Weather: Today is the first day of Fall, right? I remember this being a much bigger deal when I was younger. Today? Meh.

Sports: Here's how I root for college football: Whichever local team goes longest without losing a game is my team. So locally, that has to be the Illini. With a win on Saturday against Western Michigan, the Illini will be 4-0 for the first time since 1951. And their schedule is pretty favorable down the stretch. That said, Saturday could be a trap game because it was Western Michigan who screwed up the Illini season in 2008. Anyway, I guess I should start learning some of the players' names.

Kicker: Did you see this awesome clip of the Giants Linebacker running back a touchdown and then throwing the ball in celebration...right at the intern's head? You probably did. But have you seen it in slow-mo?