You Give Blogs A Bad Name

Last night, during the wait for news on the Yu Darvish posting process, Kevin Gray, a journalist for the New Hampshire Union Leader and blogger at Gray Matter, caused a bit of a stir by insisting on his own blog and on Twitter that the Toronto Blue Jays had not only won the bidding for Darvish, but had also scheduled a press conference to announce it.

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos plans to announce tonight his team won the bid for Japanese sensation Yu Darvish, according to my industry sources. I was told the Blue Jays would have an announcement around 9:30 p.m. (since delayed) that would blow away the great fans of Canada, who’ve been thrilled at the idea of Darvish signing with Toronto.

Of course, shortly after Gray’s claims, it was announced by Major League Baseball that the Texas Rangers had won the exclusive rights to negotiate with Yu Darvish.

He replied to his miscue with an apology:

Sorry, Blue Jays, fans. I gave the story my all and ended up getting bad info from trusted sources, guys that have never let me down before. (WTH happened?) This is the danger of the blogosphere. I didn’t go with the story in my newspaper because none of my sources went on the record. That’s our rule. So I’ll take the heat for posting it on my blog. I’m sorry to all those great fans in Canada. I screwed up. My Blue Jays sources screwed up. I’ll be right back at it tomorrow.

To someone who gladly refers to themselves as a blogger, but gets frustrated by the hierarchical condition in most people’s minds that automatically assumes such a profession is lowlier than that of journalist or reporter, Gray’s apology is incredibly maddening.

The transfer of misinformation isn’t the danger of the blogosphere, it’s the danger of an individual making up for his own lack of critical thinking with an eagerness to be the first to report a story. Putting the onus on his sources is even worse than blaming the medium for his message. The old adage is that it’s a poor carpenter who blames his tools, and in this case, Gray’s “aw shucks” finger pointing at his sources should be taken as evidence for his own incompetence.

Let’s assume Gray is being genuine when he writes that his “sources” let him down. Just think about this for a minute: According to the timing of his first tweet about the supposed press conference, his sources told him that it would be occurring in twenty minutes. A press conference that no Blue Jays beat reporter had bothered to mention, would be occurring in twenty minutes. A press conference announcing information that only a handful of Major League Baseball executives actually had any information about, was going to be announced by the Toronto Blue Jays in twenty minutes.

How does this happen? How does this not get questioned with the least bit of critical thinking from not only a blogger, but someone who also makes a living by collecting the words of other people to shape opinion? A level of critical thinking is missing there that I would expect from even the most casual of readers.

A small bit of credit does to go to Gray for promising to donate any money he made from his blog’s ad revenue last night to a charitable cause in Toronto.

Comments (20)

  1. The whole affair made me sick. Gray has been seriously promoting traffic to his site with nothing; encouraging ad clicks for either no reason at all or by giving away swag that’s gathered dust in his home which is in direct violation of Google ad policies. I don’t believe he’s going to donate to charity. I didn’t believe his scoop, I didn’t believe his retweets from NH coaches in the know and I don’t believe he sincerely felt bad for the fans. He felt bad he guessed wrong.

    He went all in with a gutshot, tried to time it right and blamed the dealer when his miracle straight didn’t hit. When he had to tell his friends about where he messed up, the story was completely different.

    • It does seem like Gray is getting himself in the middle of things while doing his job with New Hampshire. I recall him defending the Fisher Cats’ owner when he chewed out the players after a bad playoff game (which is really poor form for a minor league owner), and hating the Nestor Molina trade. Had a tweet that went something like this: “Do the Jays want to be competitive, or save money?”

      Fantastic poker analogy, James- there were other folks on Twitter (*cough* InsidetheJays *cough*) who were hoping to get their river card too, and didn’t have it happen.

      One of the detriments of Twitter is it allows misinformation to be spread easier as well as legitimate information. One would hope that happenings like this would encourage better vetting of information, but that’s unlikely.

  2. A little off-topic here Parkes, but it bugs me to read the MSM and others blaming all the misinformation leading up to “the Yu” on twitter and blogs alone. The majority of “mainstream” sources – be it ESPN, Foxsports, Bob Elliott at the Sun, etc – all reported hearing the Jays bid big. Elliott, who is as reputable as they come, printed the line about a rival exec hearing that Rogers said “sign him at any cost”.

    THAT is what fuels bloggers, fake twitter accounts, etc.

    I just think it’s a little bush to wake up and have our (the fans) wrists slapped for buying into the notion that the Jays were the favorites to win this thing when all the professionals (and their ethics and standards) were knee deep in the same muck.

    • This is going to sound dickish, but I knew this would happen. I’ve seen it every time there’s a posting. People have no idea what’s happening, but they want to feel important so they’ll pass on speculation that they’ve read as something that they’ve heard, and before we know it, Major League sources are quoted as saying things as though it’s insider information.

      • That’s not dickish, you practically spelled that out in many of your posts and the rational among us expected it as such but when the bloggers/tweeters/social media crowd get the fingers pointed at them for causing the high expectations by main stream media, that’s real shitty.

  3. He can actually be booted off Ad Sense for promoting clicks.

  4. Exactly what the Ack said.

    As an aside; great work to Getting Blanked, Drunk Jays and Bluebird Banter for actually sharing facts and trying their best to temper fans expectations

  5. I couldn’t agree more!

  6. Two points. Thank you for lowering our expectations around this deal by explaining exactly how rumours are made in this industry. This has been the most glaring example that you are bang on.

    Secondly, thanks for not pilling on the Tiger’s again. And try not to when they get Shields. Thanks.

  7. Honestly, I thought he handled it pretty well after he realized he screwed up. He seemed to genuinely feel bad about it and took responsibility for it. Yea he mentioned his sources but he also seemed to take responsibility for having relied on them. And he did screw up, no question, but especially since in my experience he’s been fairly reliable in the past, I’m prepared to cut him some slack.

    I don’t think he meant to paint everyone in the blogosphere with the same brush. There are reliable blogs out there (yours included) that are responsible with how they report information. But I think its fairly obvious that blogs, on the whole, are a less reliable source than say a newspaper since anyone with a computer and an internet connection can set up a blog and use information how they chose without anyone to really answer to.

  8. In this day in age with the immediacy of Twitter, I think some folks are just foaming at the mouth to be the first ones to announce a big deal. And with Twitter, it’s easier and quicker than ever for rumours to spread like wildfire.

  9. The most ridiculous thing about Gray was his certainty. I actually dont disbelieve that he had a source inside the Jays who thought that the Jays had won, there surely had to be more than a handful that knew the bid, and his position likely would have given him access. But its pretty clear to me that his certainty was an attempt to drive hits/his ego and it backfired.

    I cant understand the phantom press conference though. That was a little mind-boggling

    • I agree. I think he was too adamant at a time when even the most connected of journalists were just tweeting rumours and speculation.

      He had a 50/50 shot of being a hero, and he lost.

  10. lol it’s pretty funny you roasting this poor guy like this… I love it!

  11. The only reason to write a post like this is to be a prick.
    This blog needs to get off its moral highhorse and actually do some original writing.
    I know Stoeten has linked to Grey’s blog a lot. Grey now he gets something wrong and you try and discredit everything he’s ever done.
    I’m just in shock over what a high percentage of articles on this site are completely devoted to insulting other writers. Its not just that its unprofessional, its something an arrogant thirteen year old would do.
    Making fun of idiots usually never moves diaglogue in a positive direction.

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