Journalism in this case..."allegedly" & "Double sourced".. | Syracusefan.com

Journalism in this case..."allegedly" & "Double sourced"..

Jake

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Just wanted to give my somewhat educated opinions on these two aspects of the story. First of all, for everyone out there calling for ESPN's head for lack of the use of the word "allegedly"...you need to chill.

Reporters #1 priority when reporting this case is that they get the "attribution" correct. In other words, they have to make sure that they make sure that they report that these are the words of the accuser...not their own. From a journalistic and legal approach, the best way to do this is to say "Bobby Davis says Bernie Fine abused him". Inserting the word allegedly in this sentence in redundant and does not offer the reporter any further legal protection. Simply stating that these are the words of Bobby Davis is protection enough. In fact, most prefer not to use the word allegedly because there are situations where that word alone does not offer you legal protection and the news agency can be held legally responsible. I haven't watched all of Schwartz reports, but if in every case he says "Bobby Davis says", than he is reporting correctly.

The bigger issue in this case is what I would consider the lack of a second source. Reporters prefer two, and in some cases three sources before allowing a story to go air. The problem we have with this case is that I don't think you can consider Davis and his step-brother as two INDEPENDENT sources. There is no way that Schwartz can prove that Davis and Lang acted independent of each other and not in collussion. No matter how Lang came to Schwartz, Lang and Davis know each other and it cannot be disproven that they were acting together. Had another person, who did not know Davis, come forward, then I think you have two independent sources. This is why I think ESPN failed their Journalistic responsibilities in reporting the story when they did. No matter if they are right or wrong.
 
Just wanted to give my somewhat educated opinions on these two aspects of the story. First of all, for everyone out there calling for ESPN's head for lack of the use of the word "allegedly"...you need to chill.

Reporters #1 priority when reporting this case is that they get the "attribution" correct. In other words, they have to make sure that they make sure that they report that these are the words of the accuser...not their own. From a journalistic and legal approach, the best way to do this is to say "Bobby Davis says Bernie Fine abused him". Inserting the word allegedly in this sentence in redundant and does not offer the reporter any further legal protection. Simply stating that these are the words of Bobby Davis is protection enough. In fact, most prefer not to use the word allegedly because there are situations where that word alone does not offer you legal protection and the news agency can be held legally responsible. I haven't watched all of Schwartz reports, but if in every case he says "Bobby Davis says", than he is reporting correctly.

The bigger issue in this case is what I would consider the lack of a second source. Reporters prefer two, and in some cases three sources before allowing a story to go air. The problem we have with this case is that I don't think you can consider Davis and his step-brother as two INDEPENDENT sources. There is no way that Schwartz can prove that Davis and Lang acted independent of each other and not in collussion. No matter how Lang came to Schwartz, Lang and Davis know each other and it cannot be disproven that they were acting together. Had another person, who did not know Davis, come forward, then I think you have two independent sources. This is why I think ESPN failed their Journalistic responsibilities in reporting the story when they did. No matter if they are right or wrong.
Honestly i couldnt care less about Espn or Schwarz at this point -- i care to know the facts and deal with whatever comes from that-- Espn and Schwarz are the last of my worries
 
Just wanted to give my somewhat educated opinions on these two aspects of the story. First of all, for everyone out there calling for ESPN's head for lack of the use of the word "allegedly"...you need to chill.

Reporters #1 priority when reporting this case is that they get the "attribution" correct. In other words, they have to make sure that they make sure that they report that these are the words of the accuser...not their own. From a journalistic and legal approach, the best way to do this is to say "Bobby Davis says Bernie Fine abused him". Inserting the word allegedly in this sentence in redundant and does not offer the reporter any further legal protection. Simply stating that these are the words of Bobby Davis is protection enough. In fact, most prefer not to use the word allegedly because there are situations where that word alone does not offer you legal protection and the news agency can be held legally responsible. I haven't watched all of Schwartz reports, but if in every case he says "Bobby Davis says", than he is reporting correctly.

I agree with you here Jake although i think its been a very sloppily handled news story by ESPN. This was certainly more for ESPN's benefit than for Davis.
 
You could tell Schwarz was trying to create a tone of independence between Davis and Lang during his original reporting of the story, when he stated the brothers "rarely communicate" and have seen each other "since Lang's father's funeral".

Unfortunately, for Schwarz, that still doesn't make them independent sources.
 
How do you explain Schwarz saying "Davis has been abused thousands of times" in his interview intro. In actual interview Davis says "hundreds of times". How is that not pushing a sensationalist angle by Schwarz?

You have a good point on "allegedly" but it's just a small piece of why everyone is mad at Schwarz handling of the story. Also putting that girl on the air (again another relative) who was not a witness to any crime to speculate that "there are dark secrets there", and he had "blinds at his house". That's completely unprofessional.
 
Is it true that the only thing that has changed in 8 yrs is that Lang now says he was abused and before he said he wasn't?
 
How do you explain Schwarz saying "Davis has been abused thousands of times" in his interview intro. In actual interview Davis says "hundreds of times". How is that not pushing a sensationalist angle by Schwarz?

You have a good point on "allegedly" but it's just a small piece of why everyone is mad at Schwarz handling of the story. Also putting that girl on the air (again another relative) who was not a witness to any crime to speculate that "there are dark secrets there", and he had "blinds at his house". That's completely unprofessional.
Wasn't she a former gf, not a relative?
 
well stated Jake; I advise all who have not read the Jason Whilock pod cast that was referred to on posts to listen to it...
 
What's your perspective on Schwarz presenting the details of this case with such blatant interpretive bias?

In my mind, that's been the most egregious problem with how ESPN has covered this story.
 
I know Schwarz said "Bobby Davis said" but unless I'm remembering incorrectly, a long time later (10 minutes), he started stating things as fact without repeating Bobby Davis said. Maybe he's relying on the tuck rule.
 
no, the bigger issue isnt lack of a second source.

If you stood up and made a claim we'd have no reason to doubt you. Your claims are worth repeating because you are source whose veracity cant be easily impeached. You have nothing to gain by lying. I would not need that second source.

You are not an addict. you dont have obvious economic issues. you are not visibly drunk. Your eyes dont suggest that you are taking speed. If they did, I would never repeat your original claim in the first place. Forget about finding a second source - i dont have a first source if my only source is some meth head and his drunk step brother!
 
no, the bigger issue isnt lack of a second source.

If you stood up and made a claim we'd have no reason to doubt you. Your claims are worth repeating because you are source whose veracity cant be easily impeached. You have nothing to gain by lying. I would not need that second source.

You are not an addict. you dont have obvious economic issues. you are not visibly drunk. Your eyes dont suggest that you are taking speed. If they did, I would never repeat your original claim in the first place. Forget about finding a second source - i dont have a first source if my only source is some meth head and his drunk step brother!

Do you have any proof that a) Davis is an addict, b) has economic issues or c) is a meth head? It seems we are creating double standards around here an awful lot these days.

I hope to God these allegations are untrue, but as other have said, we don't really know a thing about Fine or Davis.
 
Just wanted to give my somewhat educated opinions on these two aspects of the story. First of all, for everyone out there calling for ESPN's head for lack of the use of the word "allegedly"...you need to chill.

Reporters #1 priority when reporting this case is that they get the "attribution" correct. In other words, they have to make sure that they make sure that they report that these are the words of the accuser...not their own. From a journalistic and legal approach, the best way to do this is to say "Bobby Davis says Bernie Fine abused him". Inserting the word allegedly in this sentence in redundant and does not offer the reporter any further legal protection. Simply stating that these are the words of Bobby Davis is protection enough. In fact, most prefer not to use the word allegedly because there are situations where that word alone does not offer you legal protection and the news agency can be held legally responsible. I haven't watched all of Schwartz reports, but if in every case he says "Bobby Davis says", than he is reporting correctly.

The bigger issue in this case is what I would consider the lack of a second source. Reporters prefer two, and in some cases three sources before allowing a story to go air. The problem we have with this case is that I don't think you can consider Davis and his step-brother as two INDEPENDENT sources. There is no way that Schwartz can prove that Davis and Lang acted independent of each other and not in collussion. No matter how Lang came to Schwartz, Lang and Davis know each other and it cannot be disproven that they were acting together. Had another person, who did not know Davis, come forward, then I think you have two independent sources. This is why I think ESPN failed their Journalistic responsibilities in reporting the story when they did. No matter if they are right or wrong.

But he wasn't getting the "attribution" correct all of the time, and that is the problem here. He was getting sloppy, and making assertions which the public was led to believe was invioable fact.
 
I question that it is a double source.

Sent from my Vortex using Tapatalk
 
I question that it is a double source. A second sorcery would be I saw Bernie PR Bernie told that he molested Davis. That's confirmation. Otherwise it's two stories.
It's like Davis saying that 25 years ago Bernie went through a stp sign, and Davis says that he saw Bernie go through a the same stop sign 3 years earlier. Neither corroborates the other nor makes the other more likely.
Sent from my Vortex using Tapatalk
 
I have a bit of a different view.

Multiple independent sources are ideal in any story, of course, for reasons stated above.
But I think this became something that could be reported once the police opened their investigation.
It's not an easy call...because once you report something like this, even if someone is exonerated, his reputation can never be completely cleansed.
But at the point a public agency starts investigating, it's giving the story enough credence to be reported (and, no, they obviously don't investigate every complaint).

I've had debates about this position the past week.
But I look at it this way:
Suppose Davis was the only source...police opened an investigation...and it wasn't reported.
The DA & police brass then get into a nasty public dispute that winds up in court.
Is that also unreportable because of the underlying issue?
No. It's not and it shouldn't be.
Generally speaking, when our governmental agencies say openly that they're doing something, it's reportable.

Also...bear in mind that just because you source statements to Davis or anyone else does not get you off the hook for any defamation claim
(unless you're reporting statements made in court filings or other privileged material).
If you "publish" a statement, you're potentially on the hook for any libel or slander.
That makes it all the more ridiculous for anyone to be publishing unverified statements about the accuser's mental state, physical state or past behavior.
Some people here keep doing it.
It's really an embarrassment for all of us.
But it's potentially a lawsuit for those making the claims...even if they post using pseudonyms.
 
Individuals bringing a defamation action almost always come to regret it, even if they didn't do anything wrong. The standard of proof is daunting, media defendants throw lots of money at the defense, and you basically have to open your entire life to pretrial discovery.
 

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