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"I just got off the phone with sources..."

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by zebracoy, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    I can't blame this directly on the ESPN guys (Mortensen, Paolantonio), but I do blame it on the network: Is it really that important for the first sentence out of one of these guys' mouths to be some variation on what I put in the thread title?

    We even see this reach over to the web:

    Yes, I understand that it leads to credibility. But to me, with something like this, where every little move has been scrutinized and most has been a sensationalization of non-news (we joked about it with the "Brett Favre has passed the butter at the dinner table!" itself), who cares?

    Look at the words themselves: "a source." Whoopee. Nobody knows who that is, and to me, it's a phrase that conveys the same amount of credibility as a byline - and I'm a journalist.

    My question is, Why must this be one of the first things reported? Is it even necessary? Does anyone care?
  2. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I remember several years back when Gammons walked off Baseball Tonight to take a call about a trade. I think it was when Randy Johnson was traded to the Astros.

    That was actually pretty cool to watch.

    Mort, on the other hand, is a whore.
  3. trench

    trench Member

    I gave up on Mort (and pretty much the WWL) years ago when I saw the following scroll across the ticker on my TV: "Sources tell ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen that Minnesota Vikings owner Red McCombs will fire coach Dennis Green at the end of the season, barring a change of heart."

    Thanks Mort. Had no idea I could just go out to the breaking news orchard and pick anything I want off the Barring Change of Heart Tree. Could have broken Watergate II by now. ::)
  4. I wish I could find it, but Walter Cronkite held up a news broadcast (I want to say it was when RFK died) because he was on the phone getting the most up-to-date version from a reporter.

    The broadcast, which was live, had the camera on him while he was talking on the phone. I could understand something like breaking news being the reason to use 'Sources tell so-and-so that..." Brett Favre? Come on.

    EDIT: Here's the clip. It's when LBJ died:

    Can you imagine something like this happening on live TV today?
  5. STLIrish

    STLIrish Active Member

    Wow. That's awesome. Walter Cronkite = effin' stud.

    Chris Mortensen, not so much.
  6. Lamar Mundane

    Lamar Mundane Member

    I have no problem with Mort and actually give props to those TV guys that genuinely are working the phones.
  7. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    TV consultants love it. They refer to it as "writing the process."

    We used to have a reporter whose entire TV reports would consist of "I just talked to so-and-so, and now I'm going to knock on a few doors..."

    The news director LOVED it. He would use it as an example for other reporters to follow. And he never noticed that the reporter didn't actually have any information in any of these stories other than a running log of his own phone calls.
  8. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    No no no, that's not my point. I give them credit for that, absolutely.

    My gripe is more with the necessary inclusion of the words "sources tell" in nearly every sentence, and how that phrase holds no weight to me, and maybe to the population, given that the person is already accepted as an authority and the source is unnamed.
  9. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    That isn't Mort trying to grab some glory, that's ESPN management trying to make it look like nothing happens unless they say so.
  10. When our area's village idiot sports talk show radio host says he just got off the phone with sources, you can usually read our newspaper from a day or a week ago for a word-for-word account of his "report." For the life of me, I don't know why we don't go after the fucker with the lawyers. When he's not butchering the English language ("pitcher" instead of "picture"), he's ripping off our stuff. Fuck you, radio heads!
  11. Birdscribe

    Birdscribe Active Member

    That's effin sweet. Incredible, incredible stuff there.

    Could you imagine Katie Couric getting this scoop like that? Me neither.

    BTW, the "Tom Johnson" Cronkite is referring to would later become the publisher of the Los Angeles Times and president of CNN.
  12. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    Flash forward to March 23, 2011, and Brian Williams is on the phone with an aide to Bill Clinton who says the former president has just died:

    WILLIAMS (to the NBC audience): I'm on the phone with an aide with President Clinton, who was found dead this morning in his bedroom.


    WILLIAMS: Go on ...


    WILLIAMS: So what you're saying is ...


    WILLIAMS: Baba ... Booey?


    WILLIAMS: And where did Howard Stern stick his two-inch peni ... oh fuck you
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