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Outing Doug Ferguson's anonymous source

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by HejiraHenry, Jun 1, 2009.

  1. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I got an e-mail from Golf Digest at 4 p.m. CT that Phil Mickelson was returning to the tour for two weeks, which was disclosed in an interview they did with him.

    Forty five minutes later, Doug Ferguson has an APNewsNow citing "a person informed of the plans. ... The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Mickelson had not announced his decision."

    Uh, OK.

    He's announced it to my satisfaction, if not the AP's.
  2. Babs

    Babs Member

    Does the AP just not want to cite Golf Digest? Is that all?
  3. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Well, it's possible I got the e-mail and he didn't. Unlikely, of course, but possible. And maybe he was developing the story himself. Maybe.

    Still, if the writethru doesn't cite Golf Digest as first reporting the story, I will probably feel compelled to call NYC.
  4. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    No, they just want to be asses and play the "ESPN has learned" game ...
    Got to feed that Yahoo(!) machine with something.
  5. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I don't think that's always necessary. Sure, if you got beat on a matter of genuine enterprise. But if it's just that a source returned someone else's call 10 minutes sooner, I don't see the point. It could get ridiculous:

    CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Yankees defeated the Indians, 12-2, on Monday night, the Plain Dealer of Cleveland first reported on its blog.
  6. I don't think he did anything nefarious. A lot of news organizations don't want you to cite another news source. That can get you burned. They want you to independently confirm it, which Ferguson clearly did with a phone call.

    Now reasonable people can disagree on whether he should have written, "... as first reported by Golf Digest." I don't think he is compelled to. But I don't think he ripped it straight from Golf Digest headlines. I'm assuming the guy can verify a story with a phone call at this point in his career, even when he doesn't get it first.
  7. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    ORLANDO--Tiger Woods did not announce that Phil Mickelson will be returning to the PGA Tour.
  8. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

  9. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    Is it THAT big a deal?
    Do your readers really give a shit?
  10. Double J

    Double J Active Member

    Nice work, Doug. :D
  11. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Ryan, we go through this a lot, and it gets explained a lot, but yet again:

    No, the readers don't care much anymore. There's no tangible "your newspaper hits the door and is the only one that has the story for 24 hours" thrill.

    But ...

    We, as professionals who do jobs in the media business, consider breaking stories -- even beating the competition by a half hour or whatever -- to remain one of the satisfying and important parts of it. It says a lot about the reporter and the service -- wire service, site or newspaper -- that they're sourced well enough to get things first.

    When doing that job, serving readers is far and away first on the list of priorities. It isn't the only priority. Breaking news is part of the job, too -- a fun part of the job.

    And by the way, to backtrack on myself -- yes, there are people on websites or whatever who are known for breaking stories, and readers know that, and yes, at that point they give a shit because they look for that person first when they hear a rumor, and yes, that builds traffic to said site.

    So yes, it's that big a deal if somebody else takes credit for breaking a story that you broke first, starting with professional pride and going from there.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2015
  12. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I get all that. And if I'm the guy who's not receiving proper credit, sure. I'll let someone know. But if I'm a random SE or copy editor somewhere with no horses in the race, and I notice someone not being given proper credit, do I care enough to call AP about it? Not a chance. Not my place. Someone else's business.

    You make good points, though. Points I don't necessarily disagree with.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2015
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