Is a journalist responsible for his tweets? Or do they count no more than bar-room banter?
When Associated Press reporter Terry Collins tweeted that the Oakland Raiders had fired coach Dennis Allen, news sources picked it up. But Collins, who does not on a regular basis cover the Raiders, never wrote the story officially.
And shortly after he posted his tweet, he deleted it.
The mainstream media criticizes bloggers for their cavalier attitude about accuracy, for how they’re “posting out of their basements.”
But now we see a mainstream journalist – nothing can be more mainstream than AP – and he’s distributing news he doesn’t feel confident about. So he withdraws it.
As it turned out, his report on Allen wasn’t wrong, it was just premature. Allen was fired within a few hours of Collins’ tweet, after the team returned to SoCal following their 38-14 fall to the Miami Dolphins in London.
Owner Mark Davis couldn’t take the humiliation of being an international embarrassment, so he had general manager Reggie McKenzie call Allen on the phone and fire him.
Collins is not the only journalist who puts tweeting at a lower level of honesty than writing for the wire service. When the Texas Longhorns were searching for a football coach last December, a Fort Worth newspaper reporter tweeted that he had it on good authority they were going to hire Nick Saban.
Not good enough authority to print in a newspaper.
This sort of semi-journalism is a distressing trend. If you’re an honest reporter you don’t spread unproven rumors without identifying them as rumors.
Speaking of rumors, there have been some interesting ones circulating around the Raiders’ job. Supposedly, Raiders owner Mark Davis is ready to make Jim Harbaugh the richest coach in the world if he will jump across the bay from San Francisco.
Davis has more to offer than money. He is said to be willing to let Harbaugh have complete control of personnel – what he doesn’t have with Trent Baalke as general manager of the 49ers.
The rumor does make sense. It would take a supername like Harbaugh to make Oakland an attraction for players, veteran and not. The Raiders lost their two best linemen, Jared Valdheer and Lamarr Houston, and McKenzie said it was because they didn’t want to stay in Oakland.
The fact that the players were losing confidence in the whole situation meant that Allen had to leave after 10 weeks in a row without a victory. But he was McKenzie’s choice, so his demise is no credit to the GM, who took over in 2012.
Rather than rebuild from scratch, McKenzie shuffles in aging veterans, such as Charles Woodson, Matt Schaub, Carlos Rogers, Donald Penn, Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Tuck, Antonio Smith, LaMarr Woodley.
It’s a pretty safe tweet that Reggie McKenzie is going to be fired.