Friday, November 10, 2006

Matsuzaka redux: rumor turned speculation turned news

An insight into news-making:
Buster Olney blogged (subscriber-only) on ESPN about a "bit of speculation heard yesterday -- and it was nothing more than speculation -- was that maybe Boston had made an enormous bid, in the range of $45 million."

Note that Olney wrote this in his blog and twice used the word "speculation" and further qualified the information with "maybe."

Well this speculative maybe turned into a good ol' fashioned news article, also on ESPN:
"The Boston Red Sox may have posted the top bid for the right to negotiate with Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reported, citing Major League Baseball sources...But Olney is reporting that the Red Sox may have posted the top bid with a figure between $38 million and $45 million, according to Major League Baseball officials who are monitoring the bidding. "
Note the repeated use of the word "may." We are now witnessing a rumor being parlayed into news. The ESPN article, to its credit, does point out that "[t]here has been no official announcement, and the Seibu Lions, Matsuzaka's team in Japan, have until Tuesday to accept or reject the high bid."

Is this responsible reporting? I'd say the blog post is responsible, although borderline comical, but taking the blog post and converting it into news (from "ESPN News Services") is questionable at best.

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