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25.5.11 1352
The 7 - Pro Wrestling - The WWF's calling out the Dirtsheets (and Smarks to an extent)
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#1 Posted on 20.3.02 1510.29
Reposted on: 20.3.09 1511.22

Sports Entertainment is big business. Nowhere is it more readily evident than in the proliferation of professional wrestling newsletters and websites that are dedicated to covering the field. We commend all of you for your enthusiasm. Notwithstanding our obvious conflict of interest - you attempt to “scoop” story lines and concepts, we attempt to execute our story lines and concepts in a surprise fashion.

However, the most difficult thing for us is your reliance on “sources” to develop the overwhelming majority of your material on our company. Despite our efforts to make ourselves available for official comment, it is the rare occasion when you call to confirm your facts or to get official comment before publishing information about the WWFE. As a result, many times what you report is more rumor, innuendo and speculation than fact.

This has caused several problems. Because of the heightened interest in the World Wrestling Federation’s activities, some people have begun using your newsletters and websites as sources of information on our company. We spend much time correcting information these people believe the WWFE has provided to you.

We would like to have had a positive working relationship with you. However, because of your preference to use “sources” (who often have other agendas at play other than providing facts), we can’t have people think that we are providing information for your newsletters and websites beyond what is readily available to the public from our official websites and news releases.

We wish you continued success. However, please understand that we will be notifying our associates and fans that information in your newsletters and on your websites is published without comment and verification from World Wrestling Federation Entertainment.
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#2 Posted on 20.3.02 1522.23
Reposted on: 20.3.09 1524.49
Hey, fair's fair. Can you imagine reporting that Bill Gates was set to release a hot new Windows upgrade without any varification? You'd be in hot water then.
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#3 Posted on 20.3.02 1531.21
Reposted on: 20.3.09 1559.02
My theory-
This probably refers to the rumblings about Austin being very unhappy with the state of the company. If people think Austin's gonna bail it might sour their dealings with him and/or be bad for the value of the WWFE stock. Most likely aimed at Meltzer or Keller. Ryder's not on the radar anymore, really.

I could be wrong.

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#4 Posted on 20.3.02 1540.30
Reposted on: 20.3.09 1559.05
You'll notice that there's no contact information contained in that post... they don't want every Joe Schmo from calling them and asking for confirmation on their latest headline ("Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels to unite and take on the NWO at Backlash!"). The message is worded in such a way so that ham and egger websites like the Smarks can puff out their chests and say "That's about us! That's about us" when in reality that was a shot directly across the bow of the Torch, 1wrestling, and the observer.

Think I'm wrong? Try to find contact information on the page... you think that the aforementioned Joe Schmo knows how to get a hold of JR, Paul Heyman, Steph, and the rest of the creative team? Hell no. But you can damn well bet that Wade Keller and Dave Meltzer do. And you can also bet that when the "big" stories come in, the legitimate journalists do the legitimate journalist thing and ask for a comment... which, of course, Vince et. al. would never stoop to do, unless it was to spin the story itself.

And bottom line, the WWF really has no right to bitch about what gets reported online on the MAJOR sites (I'll leave out the whiners who post their "exclusive" news that nobody really believes anyways). News organizations in the real world research a story, write it, then brief interested parties in order to get a comment. Those comments are then inserted into the story to provide them with an opportunity to either "clarify" their position (i.e. change their mind) or confirm the facts.

But you'll never see the Washington Post not run a story about the President simply because the White House says it isn't true. Just ask Richard Nixon about that one. And since the WWF basically (from my recollection of about 3 years ago) ordered its employees to not comment officially to any internet websites, those wishing to speak out have no choice but to do so in anonymity.

If the WWF is serious about closing down these leaks, there is a very simple way to do so; canary trap. For those of you who haven't read any Tom Clancy books, it works like this: tell a story to one person, a different version to someone else, and so on. Alter the stories significantly enough so that you can tell the difference... and make sure that the story is juicy enough to guarantee someone won't be able to shut their mouth. Then sit back and find out which story appears in the Torch next week. BAM. You have your leaker.

OK, I'll stop now... just annoyed and went off on a journalistic rampage.
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#5 Posted on 20.3.02 1548.01
Reposted on: 20.3.09 1559.06
I bet the major sites do not just have one person. If you really want to have "journalistic cred", then you need multiple sources. And any journalist worth a damn would know that if he heard variations in a story (like what you describe), he would know either to not report it to protect his sources, or report it in a general enough way that no one would really know where it came from.

They need to just deal with it. No television program with any sort of storyline ever makes it through without it getting out somehow.

(edited by Leroy on 20.3.02 1358)
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#6 Posted on 20.3.02 1557.26
Reposted on: 20.3.09 1559.11
where is that from?

edit: nevermind.

(edited by eviljonhunt81 on 20.3.02 1401)
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#7 Posted on 20.3.02 1617.24
Reposted on: 20.3.09 1621.49
I think some of you are missing the point. The WWF's complaint is not the running of the story, it's not calling them for a comment or for their side of the story. That will be like running a report on Nixon without going to Nixon for his side of things. To me, that's a valid complaint.

And there stated response seems reasonable to me. They are only going to state that the stories are not official WWF stories and without their official verification. Sounds fair enough to me.
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#8 Posted on 20.3.02 1627.32
Reposted on: 20.3.09 1629.02
It sounds like the WWF is just griping, but coming close to threatening the major sites while doing so. The Associated Press uses unnamed sources all the time — how many times have you read a war story with attribution like, "A Pentagon offical said...."

So, it's hard to blame Meltzer, Keller, et all, for using such sources, they're doing the best they can to cover a tighly-controlled environment.... Especially if the WWF has threatened employees with termination. Any reporter covering Wal-Mart or Microsoft probably runs into similar problems.

A couple of things struck me:

Why would you bother calling the WWF for comment, when they're just gonna deny everything to begin with? Especially if you're doing a piece on storylines, which they admittedly won't talk about. In areas like that, a reporter already knows the answer he'll get, so there's no point in getting the "official comment" for every story that comes down the pipe. Especially if you've dealt with the same set of WWF flaks for years, like I'm sure Dave and Wade have.

The WWF also claims that "some people have begun using your newsletters and websites as sources of information on our company." I'm assuming they're talking about more mainstream press articles about the business, which regularly contain quotes from Meltzer.... which is understandable. I mean, if the WWF isn't gonna comment, what's wrong with talking to someone who will? This is just a case of the WWF apparently not being able to control leaks, and with business being down, a lot of major outlets are reporting that fact. I've read stories in the Wall Street Journal and most recently,, that have said as much.

(the Salon article is here:

Bottom line.. it sounds like the sheets (at least the major ones) are trying to be as journalistically sound as they can be. And newspaper reporters can't be blamed for talking to secondary sources about the WWF.
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#9 Posted on 20.3.02 1642.06
Reposted on: 20.3.09 1644.21
Really, they're right though. With one company in the business, Meltzer, Ryder, and Keller have to dig much deeper to get news. Meltzer and Keller have to come up with enough to provide a weekly subscriber newsletter remember. Only so much of that can be opinion.

All the WWF is saying is that, "hey, if you want official press releases, we can give you some, but quit reporting innuendo and backstage whispering as fact."

The difference between reporting a "Buisness story" or a "government insider says..." is that there's some varity.

First, all of the sheet writers have devoted fan following who will believe anything that their selected person puts out. Very few industries have something like that. If the Sports Illustrated says that a source with some NFL team has said that it's coach is getting fired, you take it with a grain of salt. One source, or even a few sources don't mean it's true.

I don't know. I guess the WWF needs competition, if for no other reason than to get the sheets from trying to dig up dirt on them.

(edited by Excalibur05 on 20.3.02 1519)
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#10 Posted on 20.3.02 1707.11
Reposted on: 20.3.09 1708.49
You're right, in that it's a very different animal than covering a professional sports league. But to use your example, if a coach is about to get fired, you'll generally hear about it a few days in the newspapers before it actually happens. And it will usually quote some unnamed insider source. That's just the nature of the news business, getting the scoop out first. When Bobby Knight went to Texas Tech, it was reported (first probably as rumor) that he was looking at the place.. and lo and behold, a few weeks later....

That's not to say that the rumors are always true and many a newspaper has been caught with egg on their face. But at some point, you're at the mercy of your sources. The problem with the "sheets" is that they aren't as accountable as a newspaper.. so they can get away with printing more innuendo. And you're right, you have to take it with a grain of salt.

(edited by asteroidboy on 20.3.02 1512)
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#11 Posted on 20.3.02 1756.54
Reposted on: 20.3.09 1759.01
It seems as if they are aiming at PWtorch and Just my thought
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#12 Posted on 20.3.02 1833.36
Reposted on: 20.3.09 1841.58
Its odd to me that Vince McMahon, the man who trumpeted free speech during the Attitude years, has now turned tail and become a jack ass hypocrite. Up yours WWF.

Perhaps if you took the time to actually share facts and made yourself available to large web sites and news outlets like the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA, and every other reputable enterainment and/or sports company in the free world you wouldn't have this problem.

That letter is assanine. Could you imagine the NFL sending a letter to ESPN asking them to no longer report a free agent signing or major trade? Its the same damn thing.

Could imagine Tubby Smith calling CBS and saying, guys you can't let Clark Kellog give Maryland the keys to defeating us on your pregame show Friday. You also can't report that we signed coveted recruit Player A or that Player B is transferring because we want it to be a surprise. Its freaking ridiculous to think he would do that! Thats exactly what the WWF is asking.

Come on WWF use some common sense. Its not like 1wrestling, PWTorch, or the Observor are like the Weekly World News. When it comes to news, no matter if you love them or hate them, those three web sites are the most reputable news source out there on pro wrestling. Why? They have sources. JUST LIKE FREAKING CNN OR NBC NEWS! There is NO DIFFERENCE.

Someone up above mentioned Microsoft. If Microsoft is secretly making Windows GT and software developer Bob calls up his college buddy Tom Brokaw and tells him about it, Tom knowing the source is credible, is going to call Microsoft. Microsoft is going to deny it because they want it to be secret. Does that mean Tom doesn't run the story? No. He just says "Sources close Microsoft tell NBC, etc." Can Microsoft sue for slander? Hell no. Whats slanderous about getting the scoop? Nothing. And they especially can't sue because guess what? They ARE developing a new windows. Just like Austin very well is mad, Scott Hall was drunk in the hotel, and they did sign the nWo.

To side with the WWF on this one is side with slap in the face of our right to free speech. A right that upteen thousands of people died for on 9/11, a right that upteen million Americans died for defending our country in foreign wars, and a right that gave people of other colors, race, nationality, and religion a voice that earned their freedom.

WWF=Hypocrite. And thats the bottom line......

End rant.
Enojado Viento
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#13 Posted on 20.3.02 2217.10
Reposted on: 20.3.09 2221.10
Wow. *L* I had no idea the Internet was a danger to anyone. This is almost validation. Wonder if Vince and Shane will go door to door like Jay and Silent Bob?

"Did you say Austin no showed RAW?" *PUNCH!*

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#14 Posted on 20.3.02 2244.10
Reposted on: 20.3.09 2244.36
A lot of you are missing the point, especially you, Ffej, with that rant about free speech. All the WWF is asking is that the dirtsheets label rumors and hearsay as what they are. The dirtsheets and Smark sites have no "right" to print bullshit rumors and claim they are verified facts just cause some "credible" source said so. The WWF have every right to protect themselves from unfair rumors disguised as news stories. Nowhere in that quote which Kawshen posted do I detect any attempt at a threat of anything short of telling the truth... that these rumors are unverified. Nowhere in this letter do they do anything more than ask that the dirtsheets stop printing unverified hearsay. The only thing they do that could even remotely be considered harmful is disassiciate themselves from the dirtsheets, and any fan with half a brain already knows they're not associated.

Nowhere do they threaten legal or any other type of action to forcibly shut down the dirtsheets, or force them to stop printing these rumors. This is not a first amendment issue... freedom of the press does not protect irresponsible journalists from the consequences of their own irresponsibility.
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#15 Posted on 20.3.02 2322.27
Reposted on: 20.3.09 2324.06
The problem with these dirt sheets is that they could go ahead and make something up and BS everyone and starts rumors, without ever facing the people they are reporting on.

For example a beat reporter says or accuses a forth of what these guys do and then has to face the people (player, coach) in the locker room. Meltzer could talk about anything he wants from who writing which script, to who's holding who back, who's contract is coming up, to who's making this much, and who's been suspended.

The problem I have with the sheets is that they put all of there opinions and news in the same category. That's dangerous. You can't have legit news like (RAW numbers are these from neilson) and the very next sentense say (steph wrote this segment) That's opinion not fact.

I notcied the sheets have been getting away with a lot, if they don't want to act responsible then they will get what's coming to them
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#16 Posted on 20.3.02 2327.45
Reposted on: 20.3.09 2328.04
All the WWF is doing is telling the dirtsheets and websites that if they don't start acting and reporting in a professional manner, then they shouldn't get upset when the WWF has to tell people that those guys are not credible, reliable sources of information.

One way of showing that they aren't credible is to cut off the flow of promotional and review tapes and merchandise, and free tickets to shows.

It's a rule in journalism, if you write about someone, and you have an anonymous source for information, you have to go to the person (or business) that the story is about and give them the chance to comment. If they choose not to comment, you include that in the story.

Saying that it's a waste of time is just breaking that rule in the name of laziness. And if you can't follow the most simple, basic rules of journalism, then you aren't really credible, and you shouldn't bitch when all of a sudden you stop getting comps to live shows, preview videos, free merchandise, and access to the wrestlers. That's the next step for the WWF to take, and you really can't blame them. It's not a free speech issue, it's a "quit behaving like a third-rate Matt Drudge" issue.

Think about all these sites that reported that Austin is upset with the direction of his character and flew home in a huff after Wrestlemania. Are there statements in those stories from either Austin or the WWF? How do we know that this vacation wasn't planned all along? Did that story affect the WWFE stock price? Was it published on a site owned by someone who says he owns stock in WWFE?

All the WWF is doing is putting the news sites and dirtsheets on notice that they're going to be expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and follow the basic rules of journalism, or they're not going to have the benefits of being treated as a credible reporter by the WWF any longer.

The reactions of the news sites to this open letter speak volumes about who the primary offenders are. The louder they bitch, the more journalistic rules they've probably broken.

Later, Rudy

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#17 Posted on 21.3.02 0700.24
Reposted on: 21.3.09 0701.17

    Originally posted by Rudy

    The reactions of the news sites to this open letter speak volumes about who the primary offenders are. The louder they bitch, the more journalistic rules they've probably broken.

    Later, Rudy

Well, I've been bitching about this since yesterday and I happen to think I have pretty good journalistic mores. Fortunately for me, most of the stuff I do isn't defined as "breaking news," so I usually don't have to deal with getting hostile quotes. But that doesn't make me skimp on the steps I was taught in an actual journalism department as an undergrad.

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#18 Posted on 21.3.02 0735.08
Reposted on: 21.3.09 0736.15
I think Rudy's comments hit the nail on the head. Yes, the WWF provides a lot of promotional stuff to the wrestling journalists who write the newsletters and by cutting them off from those things it will be a sign that the WWF doesn't consider them credible. I've been reading the Observer and Figure 4 Weekly for almost a year and a half now, and got the Torch last year, and there wasn't a heck of a lot of mention about the "freebies" they receive from the WWF. They most likely get stuff, but it isn't something they flaunt to proove credibility. All writers for some sport or entertainment get these types of perks, so they will report something (I doubt Roger Ebert has paid for a movie in a long time). The problem is, not as many wrestling fans read The Observer as baseball fans read Sports Illustrated.

The wrestling journalists will get the story whether the WWF says the story is credible or not. I cannot remember reading a non-factual story from either the Observer or Figure 4 Weekly (or even when I was getting the Torch for that matter). I forget who mentioned it already, but it's these guys jobs to find out what is fact and what is fiction.

That is what seperates these journalists from some random kid who got a web address for his 13th birthday and is posting any stupid wrestling rumor he can come up with. This might sound strange, but I haven't looked on a page like that in some time, following the "If I don't like it don't go to it" mentality. I don't even go to some of the bigger sites because I do not like getting swamped with pop-up ads (no names need to be dropped here).

Whether the WWF cuts off their approval of Wrestling Newsletters is irrelevant. I doubt the San Fran Giants wanted the true story of Jeff Kent's injury getting leaked out the way it did, but journalists have ways of finding these things out. If Vince McMahon won't say to Journalist A they are not doing something, there is bound to be somebody that knows that will "let it slip."

This corny "Open Letter" posted on the WWF site is nothing more than the WWF trying to show their fangs, so-to-speak, in hopes that it will cause some of these rumor starting Wrestling "News" sites to think twice (which won't happen).
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#19 Posted on 21.3.02 0738.33
Reposted on: 21.3.09 0739.58
Who exactly is the WWF aiming that letter at? If you were the person(s) that letter was aimed (assuming you could figure out if it was aimed at you) at would you do anything differently because of it? How many times would you go back to their contact people if they kept replying with a "no comment"? Given the business we're talking about (title changes happening at house shows and them not acknowleding it) does the WWF saying it's true make you anymore sure that it's fact or a rumor?

Whether they are right or not they come across as whiners. And really if they are serious about wanting people to check their information first (and that letter truly is aimed at the internet sites), why don't they give the name of the person(s) who the websites/dirt sheet writers should contact in that letter?
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#20 Posted on 21.3.02 0847.03
Reposted on: 21.3.09 0859.06
I think some of you are missing the point as well. If the WWF signed Goldberg and Dave Scherer talked to several sources (which he always does) who confirmed such he then would call the WWF for comment. So he calls the WWF and guess what? They are going to say "No comment." Does that mean that he should now not run the story? No. Big web sites likes 1wrestling, The Torch, et alt all call the WWF all the time for an official statement and the WWF won't give them one. That does NOT mean they shouldn't run the story.

If journalism worked like that we would still be waiting for Clinton to actually say he got a hummer from Monica. But thanks to "sources" and those close to the situation he was forced to admit his infidelity.

What the WWF is saying if that if "If we don't say it, it isn't true." Thats just stupid. Nixon didn't say he was involved in Watergate until enough "sources" forced his hand.

I stand by my feelings on this, the WWF is not a responsible corporate entity period. They have lost nearly 4 million viewers over the last year and a half and at any other large company that would have been grounds for a major shakeup. Instead the WWF blows it off as "Cycles." Do you think Miscrosoft would blow off Windows as cylcles if all the sudden sales dipped by 4 million units? No, it would be seen as a problem and addressed. Those responsible would pay the price. In the WWFs case its time they held themselves, not the internet or anyone else, accountable for their own actions.

(edited by Ffej on 21.3.02 0948)
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