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Walking The Fine Line Between Journalistic Principles And Tabloid Writing
SAN ANTONIO – I want to begin this column saying that for a few days, I have been wrestling with a very tough subject matter. As a journalist, it is my job to report factual information in my writings. Even in the op/eds that so many readers enjoy, I try my best to make sure that the subject matter is well researched and presented in a tasteful manner.
I say that in regards to this week’s op/ed because the subject that will be discussed actually came from the entertainment/beauty segment of the media and not sports. However, the reason for this op/ed is based upon a professional sport and involves a professional athlete and his family. What makes this writing so tough for me this week? The fact that I was asked to get a voice out to the ‘world’ and present a different side of the story.
Like I said earlier, I’ve wrestled with how to present this opinioned writing because I do not want my integrity as a writer to be questioned to the loyalty of something that I also hold close to me; friendship. Yet I think I have found the proper balance on getting the message out because this story isn’t about what a father wants the world to know about his son. The story is actually about what is the true duty of the media in relations to sensationalized story lines and flamboyant pieces that are now seen around the world. To set the scene, let me tell you how this particular subject matter came into being what is the finished product you are reading now.
As many of you know, Allure magazine had published an interview with Eva Longoria and it has been certain segmented pieces of that editorial that have become quite the flavor of tabloid media outlets and even many mainstream segments of the journalism world. The one sentence or quote that has struck a cord with many has been the one in which Ms. Longoria says that she is the relationship teacher when it comes to her involvement with her boyfriend, San Antonio Spurs star point guard, Tony Parker.
Now I’ve read the article a few times this week after I was approached by Tony’s father and before the Chicago native even began to tell me what was on his mind, I knew his thoughts. The article did not paint his son in a positive light with the public at all. I knew what he was going to say but Tony, Sr. said it more eloquently than I could have ever surmised.
“I am not pleased at all with how this article portrays my son in his private life,” the elder Parker told me after the Spurs game against Golden State.
That was it. That was the statement he wanted to get out and for this proud father that word is now out for everyone else to read. Yet I want to go beyond what Parker, Sr. wanted to say to the world about the Allure article.
See for me this is something that is slowly permeating into the sports media realm and is something that both writers and fans should start thinking about and that is tabloid journalism.
Today’s sports heroes are as big as the small or big screen actors and entertainers. The way our society is today, many of us want to know every morsel about our favorite celebrity and we crave to have been privy to something so private as maybe conversations in a celebrity’s personal life. I can understand where Tony’s father was coming from and I can appreciate what he was trying to convey to me and a few other journalists that day.
The magazine didn’t do a secondary subject any justice by asking that party how did they feel about the comments the primary subject said to the writer. In a sense, Allure magazine crossed the line of becoming a newsmaker because as I researched for the article on the Internet, I came across several other outlets that had taken pieces of that interview with Longoria and reported on it themselves.
I’ll be honest here on this subject of tabloid journalism. I don’t like it. I think it’s shady and I’m really glad that not many sports news outlets would carry something like the Allure piece as one of their staples of a news broadcast or story. I can even understand why some sports media outlets may not even want to tackle writing a response to such tabloid reporting.
Yet somehow I figured that maybe there was a balance in being able to do something on the subject matter at hand because the lines are definitely blurring these days. Remember how Monday Night Football had Terrell Owens and Nicollete Sheridan portray a ‘taboo’ subject matter prior to the game that night? Do you remember the stories that came forth from that three-minute skit and do you remember how indignant many in the country were once given a chance to show their displeasure? Well this could be argued as a similar case here.
Personally I don’t care what a sports celebrity like Parker does in his private life. Well let me rephrase that statement. I don’t care what he does in the privacy of his life; especially when it comes between him and whoever he is dating at the time.
It’s not my job to snoop round and try to find dirt on him or any other athlete just to either sell more papers, get more hits on a website or to do 12 minute radio segments. It’s my job to report on his and other athletes’ performance on the playing field and give readers and radio listeners my thoughts on that performance.
I guess maybe the question many may ask is, “Why would you even entertain Parker’s father and be willing to even publish just that one line sentence?” That’s a good question and after even corresponding with some journalist friends on the very ethical quandary, I decided that it was my duty as a journalist to give the world the other side of the issue in regards to the now infamous article in a beauty magazine.
But I also found it necessary to also voice my feelings on why it is important for me as a sports media pundit to tell the world that when it comes to blatant tabloid journalism, that is something that I simply cannot be a part of. I don’t think sports fans want their sports to become a segment of Entertainment Tonight and whether you can believe the premise or not, I firmly believe that at least in the sports media realm, you, the fan, are receiving true journalism in reporting and not just a bunch of fluff, pomp and innuendo that seems to come from the entertainment side of the media business.
For if you did, then this medium would only be an extension of what many believe is pseudo-journalism and great story telling with no foundation.
Believe it or not but even in the revolving realm of sports media, the truth is still the foundation. As entertaining as this media genre has become, it is still being based around the truth that is found in the reporting and in the integrity of the product that is being delivered to you by print and/or electronic form.