There’s a difference between news sources and news stories…
Between tweeting rumors to a handful of people and gathering facts and reporting a story through a major media outlet to a large audience. Anyone can tweet a rumor. Running down the story and reporting it responsibly is an entirely different animal.
So it is that 610 Sports host Nick Wright took umbrage at being called out by local sports blogger Greg Hall.
"Nick Wright Claims Chiefs Scoop That Was Not His To Claim And He Knew It," Hall’s headline reads.
First, Hall assumed Wright had read a barebones tweet last week from a local with fewer than 40 followers.
Had Hall checked with Wright, he’d have learned that Wright had been on the air for 12 hours raising more than $170,000 for a Salvation Army children’s shelter and had not read through the nearly 500 tweets he received that day.
"The truth is had I seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it," Wright says. "Do you know how many random tweets I get?"
Second, Wright’s reporting on the fight between the Chiefs No. 1 draft and another player included far more information than the local’s tweet which merely mentioned that there’d been a fight.
Third, even if the local’s tip had been Wright’s source, there’s a vast difference between being a source and the journalist who breaks the story. Anybody think Deep Throat broke Watergate, not Woodward, Berstein and The Washington Post?
"When Bob Lewellen told me that the City Council finance committee had a secret meeting and I wrote the story, it was my scoop, not Bob Lewellen’s," explains retired Star editor Jim Fitzpatrick. "I guess we’re down to man-on-the-street scoops. Under Greg’s philosophy. If you whisper it, that’s where it was said first and by God it’s your story."
Tweeting to a handful of friends and tipping off someone in the media does not the breaker of a news story make, Fitzpatrick stresses.
"It’s not a story until it’s promulgated before the general public," Fitz adds. "A rumor among friends does not qualify as a scoop or story in the public arena."
The bottom line?
"It was Wright’s story; he was the one who put the story out for the general public," Fitzpatrick says. "The tipster had neither the capacity or opportunity to promulgate the story to the general public. Therefore it’s not a story until it’s in the media – that’s where you have scoops – in the media."
Which is not to downplay the growing role of social media.
But there’s obviously a difference between Wright’s 10,000 Twitter followers, for example, and a dude with less than half a hundred. Just as there’s a difference between a skeletal mention of a fight and pinning down the full story with confirmation by mulitple sources in the Chiefs organization.
Which is what Wright secured before going public with his story ahead of the rest of the local sports media.
"It sounds an awful lot like Greg has an axe to grind against Nick and he didn’t want to hear the other side," Fitzpatrick says. "And he’s just nitpicking this story to get at Nick for one reason or another."
Hear Wright and Hall duke it out @ 2:45 P.M. TODAY on Wright’s show on 610 Sports