Originally posted by RudyAll 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.
I just gotta repeat one thing from earlier... if this letter was aimed at the ham and egger sites, there where is the contact information? The WWF isn't seriously complaining about the "Breaking News" bullshit that you see as a banner headline designed to draw more hits. Those aren't the sites that have the potential to affect the WWF's stock price.
But investing houses WILL be more inclined to change their financial positions based on credible news reports that show the industry in an unfavorable light. After all, Keller, Meltzer, et. al. depend on their credibility to earn a living. If they stuck to reporting BS rumors as fact, they'd lose that credibility and lose their income. It is in their own best interests to report accurate news in a reliable, journalistic manner. And for the most part, they do.
Moreover, they are also careful to label their opinions as such- a "Keller's Take" is a known opinion piece whereas a "Top Stories" article is just that; a report of news that they have picked up. This is no different than a newspaper which reports on say, a possible new political crisis then comments negatively upon said crisis on their editorial pages. That's the way the news industry works.
And anyone who's intelligent enough to write a front page article for the New York Times certainly is intelligent enough to have formed an opinion on the facts contained therein. It is the job of editors and the reporter themself to separate those facts from those opinions. That is what (theoretically) separates the New York Times from WaKeeney, Kansas Gazette.
Bottom line, this so-called "open letter" was no more than PR move... and a bad one at that.
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.
You're right, that is a good idea. But who's to say that the major newsletters don't do that? My contention is that if the WWF takes the position of "We don't comment on personnel matters, on storylines, etc." then it's not breaking journalistic rules to take them at their word. Especially if you've built up a relationship with WWF officials and you know what they will or will not comment on. I think statements like "You should have called us to verify that" are the WWF's ways of covering their ass.
Or.... they could very well call the WWF regularly for a response and after the first 5,000 "no comments," they just stop running them.
It's certainly the WWF's prerogative to cut off any freebies to journalists who are on the "outs" with them. But I really don't think that would change anything.
No one said that they shouldn't run the story, however, a denial or commment from the WWF is BIG PART of the story. Nobody's suggesting that any stories get spiked because the WWF offers up a "no comment". The problem is when these sites don't even bother to make a phone call, and therefore miss the chance even get a comment at all. If Dave is indeed talking to several sources, then shouldn't he include the people directly involved in the story among those sources?
Again, it's journalism 101 stuff. Add on top of that the delicacy of the negotiating process, and you should be able to see just exactly how harmful leaks, premature stories, and reckless rumors can be. Remember, he works at the webstite that definitively said that Bret Hart would be at Wrestlemania last year, and now they're acting vindicated because Hart has said that he entertained an offer. That's hardly vindication--it's proof that they ran a story that wasn't a story yet without having all the facts.
For example: Let's say that Wrestler X is in Stamford meeting with the WWF, and he has an offer on the table from them. Vince wants him to be a big surprise, so they tell everyone to keep quiet about it. A janitor sees the guy, and gets on the phone to "Acmewrestling.com" and says that he's there, and wouldn't have come there if they didn't have a deal. However, at this meeting, some issues involving routine minor points are left unresolved, and no contract is signed. Wrestler X and his agent return to their hotel, and talk about what sort of compromises are possible to get the deal done.
Meanwhile, Acmewrestling.com runs a headline proclaminng that "Wrestler X has signed with the WWF, and may debut on RAW!"
Vince thinks that Wrestler X has sounded off to the press as a bargaining ploy, and takes a hardball approach to the negotiations, and the deal doesn't get done.
Reckless reporting has cost a fellow his best shot at a big paycheck and the WWF has lost an additional talent. All because nobody at the website picked up the phone and called the WWF. If the story had included the statement, "Spokespeople for the WWF and Wrestler X declined comment", then Vince would have known that the leak came from somewhere else (or would at least have some doubts). Instead, the story is presented in a manner that makes it look as though it's official.
So I don't buy the arguement that it's a waste of time calling for a comment when you THINK that they'll probably just give you a "no comment". It's the very least that a reporter can do, if they're acting in a professional manner. I don't think these guys would be working for wrestling websites if they were clarivoyant.
For God's sake, I wrote an article about Samurai Jack for a daily newspaper last year--a pure fluff piece, and I had to let a fact-checker go over my notes and tapes just to verify one quote from the cartoonist.
As for the worst offenders, Keller and Meltzer don't seem to me to be among them. Both of them try to conduct themselves in a professional manner, and Keller took the high road yesterday by running a recent interview with Vince McMahon instead of an hysterical series of rebuttals. I think what provoked this open letter was the coverage over at 1hystrionics.com about Austin flying home in a huff after Wrestlemania. That could have hurt the WWF's standing with investors.
Rudy, I was just going to make a similar post. All they need to do is include a line such as "The WWF had no comment." or "The WWF couldn't be reached for comment." That helps clarify that the actual source of the information is NOT the WWF itself. It is also responsible journalism.
But if you just run the story, "Austin went home to Texas, no-showing the tv shows, because he is unhappy with storylines." as a stated fact, it makes it unclear where the information came from, and one may make the mistake of thinking that it came from the WWF itself and is just accepted fact. I think the author should include some indication of the source (even if it is just "an unidentified source close to the WWF") just so it is once again made clear that while you have a source, that source is NOT the WWF itself.
And if you look at what the WWF is saying, they are just saying that if you choose to not identify that the WWF is NOT the source, they are going to do it for them (they are not threatening to shut down sites, or stop stories, or even stop freebies or anything like that). To me, that is just clarification, and perfectly fair.
Especially if you've built up a relationship with WWF officials and you know what they will or will not comment on.
The WWF acting as any business in their position would. It is the responsibility of people who print things about other people to do their utmost to ensure the veracity of the information they post. One doesn't assume one knows what will be commented on and what won't; one calls and finds out for sure. If an article carries the tag, ``WWFE had no comment on the matter,'' you're immediately telling the reader something, namely that this is an unsubstatiated (by the company) rumor. It is important that this distinction be made not for those who know better, but those who don't.
The comparisons drawn to the NHL, NBA, etc. don't hold water either, by my mark. Professional Sports are different in that you can't give away the result of an NHL game before it happens. You can make a pretty good guess, but it's not predetermined. This is why people bet on sports but not on wrestling.
If you want to compare and contrast, look at the way Soap Operas and other television is reported: in dirt-sheet-style tabloids available at your local grocery store checkout. Wrestling is not yet big enough to make the checkout line; so we make do with on-line sheets. WWFE is just saying that these sites should hold themselves to the same standards that traditional medias do.
Well, there's not as much difference between pro wrestling and other pro sports as people might think. Case in point: the recent NHL trade deadline. There were all kinds of stories in the papers in the week preceding the deadline quoting sources which definitively stated that Player X is on the verge of being traded to this team, when other teams might have their eye on him and hence put forward a counter proposal. That would harm the first team's negotiating leverage. Or maybe it was a bogus rumour leaked by a player or agent trying to increase the stock of the player in the run-up to contract renegotiations. There's all kinds of stuff that's not entirely fact-based (like game scores) that affects sports franchises' bottom lines which is often leaked to the media by sources. How about star players who have run-ins with management leaking out? Demanding trades? All that stuff is the same for pro sports and pro wrestling.
Anyways, the whole thing from the WWF smacks of libel chill bullshit artistry, and it doesn't raise my opinion of the WWF's management skill. Mind you, not much else has recently, either.
Originally posted by ges7184Rudy, I was just going to make a similar post. All they need to do is include a line such as "The WWF had no comment." or "The WWF couldn't be reached for comment." That helps clarify that the actual source of the information is NOT the WWF itself. It is also responsible journalism.
Good point. Even if the sites are competing to be the first to break the news, they could run a line that says something like "We have not yet received confirmation from the WWF."
Just thought about something: Now that the WWF had made this statement publicly, do they have the legal right to sue any dirtsheet that makes comments about them without first consulting the WWF? The armchair lawyer in me says no, but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't make a statement like this for nothing.
Japanese Lesson #1:
Suiteki de atama ni anao akararete iru yona kokoromochi deshta.
Translation: It was like drops of water boring into my skull.
(To be said after watching any Stephanie McMahon segment!)
Originally posted by Slestak Good point. Even if the sites are competing to be the first to break the news, they could run a line that says something like "We have not yet received confirmation from the WWF."
You're missing the point though. With certain VERY rare exceptions (for example, Vince McMahon's interview in the Torch) the WWF refuses to comment, ever, on stories regarding talent, storylines, and other behind-the-scenes stuff. They limit themselves to content appearing originally on WWF.COM. When it comes to stories appearing in the Torch, the "No Comment" edict is out- thereby excusing persons such as Keller and Meltzer from officially seeking comment for each and every story they run.
This has been, as I understand it, an established policy of the WWF for the past several years, which is why it is virually impossible to get a WWF wrestler to appear in a totally unscripted environment. We get little bits and pieces (local radio interviews to promote a house show), canned interview segments, or national media attention that has little to do with wrestling in the end (evidence Trip on Conan).
And you know something? This might have very little to do with "other wrestling websites". This may indeed have everything to do with WWF.com. They've been running stories a little closer to reality as of late... for example, Scott Hall's very intriguing interview a few weeks back. Maybe the WWF is afraid that all of these established news sites are taking away their thunder... and their dollars. Thoughts?
It doesn't matter if the WWF ALWAYS refuses comment, a line stating that should appear somewhere. Once again, it is just clarifying that the story is not officially from a WWF source, nor a direct confirmation from the WWF.
They are only stating they are going to start making that distinction. This would be maybe stating on their website that "The Torch article referring to Stone Cold Steve Austin has not been confirmed by the WWF, and The Torch is not an official WWF website". They haven't threaten any lawsuits, so I don't know how the assumption can me made that that's what they really mean. Maybe that said what they meant, and mean what they say, and there is no other hidden meaning.
It's easy to be misrepresented even by accident, when reporters (or whatever they call themselves that month) don't use the proper etiquette in their stories. Such as stating the name of the source whenever possible. Such as making damn sure that your anonymous sources exist, are credible, and have other credible sources vouching for their info. Such as getting that official WWF "no comment" into the article even if it means 20 minutes of your day wasted on the phone.
That also includes avoiding blanket statements about groups of people. I'd be willing to bet the ENTIRE WWF locker room is NOT unhappy. But when things like locker room unrest are reported without specifics, we're left to wonder if they're talking about The Hurricane, or The Big Show, or The Hardy Boyz, or everyone in between. Everyone's reputation takes a shot as a result of lazy attribution.
The WWF's point gets proven over and over and over again. Just now, I went to read Wade Keller's "news" story on how Nash is upset with The Rock over Rock calling him "Big Daddy Bitch" on Raw.
Not once is there a mention of any source providing any of this information. Keller makes comments as if he spoke with Kevin Nash himself. Did he? No. He has no direct quotes from ANYONE or ANYTHING about any statements he made.
It's classic internet rumor-mongering. The WWF has every reason and every right to want these individuals to practice responsible journalism.
We should demand responsible journalism from these folks as well.
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