Dabo Swinney is right, journalism has lost its credibility

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Wednesday, November 30, 2016

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Dabo Swinney takes a swipe at media who have dismissed ethics in  journalism.

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Dabo Swinney takes a swipe at media who have dismissed ethics in  journalism.


• See Dabo Swinney's comments

Dabo Swinney is right.

Journalism has lost its credibility.

Swinney, head football coach at Clemson University, is absolutely correct in calling out the media for giving substance to a racial slur attributed to a University of South Carolina football player.

Here’s the scenario. Clemson beat South Carolina, 56-7, in a nationally televised game at Clemson University. Thus, according to a sloppy news report that was poorly executed, the Clemson football team is unfairly branded as insensitive to today’s morals and values.

Don’t even think a deadline, logistics, coaches and or Clemson and USC sports information staffs weren’t available to fact-check or get a response from the other side. That’s a copout.

The other side of this story would have leapt at the chance to respond to the incendiary comment. All a writer has to do is simply ask.

Don’t dare try to defend against a deadline – one for print and open-ended for digital. That doesn’t wash when there are post-game press conferences and access to players, given upon request by media, plus a team of sports information people at reporters’ beck and call to feed media information and fact-check.

Post-game press conferences and access to players aren’t the cure all for journalists on deadline. But stories that appeared after the Clemson-USC game would have had balanced access to personnel to address the accusation.

A reporter’s job is to be fair and balanced. Get an inflammatory comment from one side and ask the other to respond. That is journalism 101. Report that story straight up, no editorializing and no favoritism. That’s become an illusion in basic sports reporting.

A journalist, with an unfettered mouthpiece to the world, who is unschooled and/or doesn’t care about the sensitivity and long-range impact of the callously reported story, is a dangerous weapon.

Let’s consider how journalism has evolved since the golden era of sports reporting where cutthroat competition demanded cultivation of trusted sources and the integrity of reporting.

The Greenville News’ Dan Foster, The State’s Herman Helms, Charleston Post & Courier’s Ken Burger and The Spartanburg Herald’s Leslie Timms, Sr., are the last remnants of pure South Carolina sports journalists where readers believed if they reported it, the story was true. Sadly all are deceased and their teachings and wisdom buried with them.

So, too, is almost a generation of journalists that were mentored by them.



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