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NBA Referee Settles Lawsuit with AP

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Matt1735, Dec 10, 2011.

  1. Matt1735

    Matt1735 Well-Known Member

    Couldn't find the original thread if there was one, but this is the settlement of the lawsuit between NBA referee Bill Spooner and AP reporter Jon Krawczynski.

    This is about as big of a loss as a non-court judgment as could be for the reporter.

    AP pays $20K for legal fees for Bill Spooner and AP issues this statement:

    "AP and its reporter Jon Krawczynski learned through discovery that referee Bill Spooner and coach Kurt Rambis have both consistently and independently denied that Mr. Spooner told the coach “he’d get it back” in an exchange that occurred after a disputed call against the Timberwolves on January 24, 2011 as Mr. Krawczynski had tweeted from courtside that night. Mr. Spooner has testified that he instead told the coach he would “get back” to him after reviewing videotape of the play during a halftime break. The NBA conducted a private investigation at that time, which AP was initially unaware of, and concluded that Mr. Spooner had acted properly. AP does not contest the NBA’s finding.

    During the game, Mr. Krawczynski tweeted what he believed he had heard. Mr. Krawczynski acknowledges the possibility that he misunderstoond what Mr. Spooner said and has therefore removed the Tweet from his APKrawczynski Twitter feed.”

    And a smackdown from the NBRA attorney representing Spooner:

    “The integrity of any professional sport depends upon the integrity of its officials,” said NBRA General Counsel Lee Seham. “As far as we’re concerned, the Krawczynski tweet wasn’t just another complaint about a supposedly bad call; it constituted a baseless accusation of dishonesty. And we weren’t going to stand for it.”

    “The NBRA appreciates the AP’s issuance, subsequent to the filing of the litigation, of revised social media policies,” said Seham. “The traditional values of the press – including a dedication to truth and accuracy – cannot be compromised by itchy thumbs. The gentlemen and women of the press must hold themselves to a higher standard than that of the inebriated fan.

    Edit: Cleaned up bad formatting. Look at later post for a better linking.
  2. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    I know a lot of sportswriters who would be sweating bullets about their job security if they cost their employer an unexpected $2K, never mind $20K and untold embarrassment. Hope that AP guy is related to a honcho at the wire service. Twitter can get you fired.
  3. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I don't know. Is $20K really that much? I'd think that's more of a slap on the wrist for a company like AP.

    I'm sure he was punished. But I'm still not positive he did anything wrong unless he fabricated or misheard the quote. The settlement does not mean he was wrong. It means it never got to the point where he'd have to be proven wrong.

    Oh, and Matt ... http://www.sportsjournalists.com/forum/threads/82679/
  4. As a reporter I often worried that I would get something wrong simply because my hearing isn't what it was when I was in my 20s. Recorders can help you in a formal interview setting, but not with on-the-fly stuff. The particular danger zone is when you haven't recognized that your hearing isn't what it once was and still have full confidence in it.

    I have no idea how old this AP reporter is or if hearing was actually an issue, I'm just saying this is something I've thought about.
  5. franticscribe

    franticscribe Well-Known Member

    The $20k should not be a huge deal to the AP. The company, I'm sure, sets aside a small percentage of operating revenue annually to deal with legal matters and it likely carries a healthy libel insurance policy. The suit probably cost the AP considerably more than the $20k payout, though. I'd guess at least double that in its own attorney fees.

    I'd strongly disagree that the "settlement does not mean he was wrong." Having been on the decision making side of whether to settle libel suits, I read the settlement as a strong admission that Krawczynski made a mistake. He took down the tweet. A joint statement was issued in which Krawczynski had to "acknowledge the possibility that he misunderstood what Mr. Spooner said." Those two things are a pretty good mea culpa, in my opinion.

    Many news organizations will fight a libel suit tooth and nail and only settle when it's clear there was a mistake that a jury might well find defamatory.

    Oh, and in case anyone else was having trouble following the OP's link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ap-and-nba-referee-reach-settlement-in-lawsuit-over-reporters-twitter-message/2011/12/07/gIQAiXMqcO_story.html
  6. He was definitely wrong, but there but for the grace of god go many of us. Another lesson to take deep breath before tweeting something if you're not 100 percent sure of what you heard.
  7. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    You'll never get fired for NOT tweeting something. Think of it that way.
  8. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Just you wait. You think there aren't repercussions for reporters who get beat on a story, even if only by Twitter?
  9. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    Jon's young. And a good guy, despite being a St. Thomas grad.
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