Star Search: Star Sells Out to ‘Anonymous Source’ on Clark Hunt / Scott Pioli Story

Ah, the unbearable lightness of being an unnamed source

Yesterday highly respected media outlet CBS Sports reported that Chiefs owner Clark Hunt had offered his embattled general manager Scott Pioli a two-year contract extension…

Whereupon, KCTV, KSHB, The Kansas City Star – even NFL.com – then reported CBS’s “scoop.” As did KC Confidential columnist Craig Glazer.

Cooler heads at KMBC TV and Fox 4 passed on covering the CBS Sports report altogether.

And naturally, as a hard-edged opinion kinda guy, Glazer’s assessment of the “news” was far more harsh and he called the team and Hunt out for being arrogant, only caring about Chiefs fan’s money and taking them for a bunch of “dumb hicks.”

Which brings us to the “news” in the Star claiming that according to a single source the CBS report was untrue. And rendering this headline on the newspaper’s web site yesterday as a bit bogus: “Report: Pioli offered two-year contract extension.”

Now let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of the reporting on this matter.

Five hours after the Star‘s story on the subject this headline appeared: “Source: No contract extension for Chiefs Pioli.”

“The Chiefs did not offer general manager Scott Pioli a contract extension, a source close to the situation said, contradicting a report on CBS prior to Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers,” the now widely discussed Star story began.

“The source was emphatic that the Chiefs have had no discussions with Pioli regarding a contract extension,” it added.

Hold it right there...

The Star has severe restrictions on the use of unnamed sources in news stories with carefully laid out exceptions.

Exceptions, I might add, that do not include snaring a sports gossip scoop.

“Credibility is The Star‘s greatest asset,” the newspaper’s policy begins. “For that reason alone, editorial employees must make every effort to fully identify the news source in a story or behind one…When you grant someone confidentiality…you run the risk of making the story less credible in the eyes of the reader.”

There’s more.

“Generally, confidentiality only should be granted to protect someone who is relatively powerless or who might be harmed should his or her identity be revealed. In addition, the story should be of overriding public importance. In all cases, the reason for granting anonymity should be made clear in the story.”

In the case of the Pioli contract offer report there are really only two likely possible sources that could have authoritatively spoken as to whether Hunt offered the contract or not; Pioli (since it’s been reported he has no agent) and Hunt.

Which means the Star decided to let one of them off the hook in order to get a “scoop.”

Would fair-minded readers describe either Pioli or Hunt as “powerless?” Doubt it. Was whether or not a contract extension was offered to Pioli  “of overriding public importance?” Seriously? Would Hunt or Pioli be actually “harmed” by clarifying that CBS made a mistake? Come on.

And was the reason for granting anonymity “made clear in the story?” I didn’t see any such explanation.

Now let me tell you how the anonymous sources game is often played at 18th and Grand and how this story likely went down.

The reporter has a working relationship with the source or sources – in this case, longtime Star sportswriter Adam Teicher who has just such relationships with both Hunt and Pioli. The reporter goes to both parties to ask if the CBS story is true. Both decline to comment on the record, but one offers to give the Teicher the scoop if he agrees not to identify him.

Teicher and his editor take the bait.

Now here’s what’s wrong with the above, other than appearing to be in conflict with the newspaper’s stated policies:

Quite obviously the CBS report splashed down smack in the midst of a local sports media firestorm over Pioli’s future with the Chiefs. With pretty much everybody who can type or get on a radio show calling for his ouster.

Thus CBS’s story put incredible pressure on both Hunt and Pioli. Pressure neither of them wanted or needed now in the midst of this gawdawful football season.

Maybe the CBS report was true or just partially true. Maybe not. But Pioli and Hunt undoubtedly wanted off the hot seat.

And the easiest way to accomplish that was to feed an anonymous, unnamed quote denying it to the local newspaper. Then if later it’s learned to be true or partially true, no skin off their dicks. Blame it on that anonymous source dude.

Here’s what’s wrong with the Star getting journalistically bought off so easily.

“Before promising confidentiality, try to obtain the same information from sources willing to be quoted…” the Star‘s policy reads. “Also, make it clear to the source that you will pursue other avenues of verifying the information.”

Since the Star obviously didn’t have CBS’s sources (otherwise they’d have broken the story) their only ticket into this news game was to either get Hunt or Pioli on the record one way or the other – or let them off the hook and go the anonymous sources route.

Pretty simple, really.

What’s lame about it is, had the Star played a better game of journalistic poker it probably would have resulted in Hunt and/or Pioli having to go on the record to escape the heat (rather than nipping the story in the bud that same day by getting the newspaper to compromise its ethics).

Because had Hunt and Pioli had to run the sports media gauntlet for however many days, they likely would have had to issue a public statement, meaning no scoop for the Star.

Which now leaves the general sports public to sort out not one but two reports based on anonymous sources. And now major news organizations around the country are “reporting” that the Star says no such offer was made by Hunt to Pioli.

What they should be reporting rather is that the Star‘s unnamed source says CBS’s unnamed source is wrong.

What a country!


 

 

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12 Responses to Star Search: Star Sells Out to ‘Anonymous Source’ on Clark Hunt / Scott Pioli Story

  1. Craig Glazer says:

    Yes Hearne has it right. The mistake was in the headline of ‘re signing’ Scott, that is the attempt Clark made in August when things looked better, now there is speculation that Clark wants an out clause Scott doesn’t care for…pay off for less if fired..which is likely at this point going to happen in a year or two..unless there is a miricle change..unlikely…without a quarterback and college draft looks slim…or signing a Tony Romo this is uphill, meaning Chiefs will suck for at least a few more seasons…barring the hiring of a ‘great head coach’ and finding help at quarterback. That said it takes at least a season or more to fix the train…so next year looks bleak from my eyes no matter what..again unless we find that veteran out there for immediate help.

  2. the dude says:

    Man, these clowns (Hunt & Pioli) just keep digging that hole deeper and deeper.

  3. harley says:

    if you read my comments you would have seen the realstory….forget what
    glaze and hearne and adam said…its all irrelevant. All 3 of them are showing
    that they don’t belong on the internet with bylines.
    Glaze jumped the shark…hearne has no idea what he’s talking about
    …and adam is another supposed journalist who thinks he has the scoop.
    Regardless of whatthese people say…its not important. What is important
    is the team is bad..the coach is bewildered whytheteam plays bad (uh…let
    meexpalin this..when you drop passes..when your top qb is out…when
    your players give up…i think thats pretty good reason to lose 5 games this
    early intheseason. Lets be honest…few teams in the nfl can surviveif their
    #1 qb goes down….i don’t have any idea who atlanta or giants or
    san frans back up qb is…i do know that if those teams lost their #1 qb they
    do would be in bigtrouble.
    HERES THE FACTS…HERES WHATS FALLING INTO PLACE…HERE’S
    WHY THE SITUATION IS SO SCREWED UP…NOT BECAUSE OF PIOLIS
    CONTRACT OR EXTENSION..NOT BECAUSE OF HUNT’S NOT WANTING
    TO SPEND MONEY…HERE’S THE SWCOOP GLAZE AND ADAM AND HEARNE
    SHOULD HAVE READ ABOUT…AND I GET THIS FROM MY SOURCES WHO
    ARE INSIDE THE VERY DELICATE CAT AND MOUSE GAME GOING ON.

    #1: PIOLI is like family tothe kraft family in new england. They lovek the
    guy….and he’s very close to the kids and their families. They go way back.
    #2: Clark is very close tothe kraft family. If you notice they have been long
    time friends and depend on eachother. If you remember there were many
    pics of lamar…and the two families wereseen together qoute often at
    meetings.
    Clark is got a problem. He has a tight connection with the krafts nddoesn’t
    want to lose that connection.So he’s having to walk atirght rope on this
    situation. He has to use kid gloves here because he knows what firing
    pioli could do. And clark does not like to rockthe boat that his dad
    established.
    It gets interesting because pioli could ride outthis entire disaster by
    bringing in a b ig big name coach and getting out from under the heat.
    Other nfl teams feel the chiefs have good talent…but they need some key
    ingredients to get it back….so a big name coach on the field…a reduced
    public exposure by pioli and the fans might calm down.
    But clark has to pay the money.
    ALSO…DON’T KNOW IF ANYONEBUT ME NOTICED…IN THE STADIUM
    AT TAMPA BAY…I THINK THE OWNERS NAME IS GLAZER..
    BUT IF YOU WATCHEC THE GAME…THIS GUY HAS FOUDNATIONS..
    CHARITIES…ORGANIZATIONS WITH HIS OWN NAME ON IT…
    HE’S INTO THE TAMPA BAY COMMUNITY…
    then ask if you see the hunt name on anything inthis town…nothing…
    he’s taken millions out of kc and not put itback in. seriusly…the charties
    the hunts work are thru the cheifs…then go to dallas and they are into
    every cahritable event…foundations…etc…
    HERE’S THE FACTS…THE HUNTS HAVE USEDKC TO MAKE MILLIONS
    AND GET THEIR TEAM WORTH HUNDRED S OF MILLIONS WITHOUT
    PAYING FOR THE SUPPORT OVER ALL THESE YEARS.
    WHERE’S THE CHARITABLE WORK…WHERE’S 5HE FOUNDATIONS..
    NOT A PENNY…
    the city gave them millions to fixup their stadium…and what does this
    city and this area after supporting his product for 50 years ????
    NOT A DAMN THING….NOT EVEN A DECENT TEAM…
    the problem rests atteh top….and until the people wake up
    and say…hey buddy we’ve given our hard earned dollas to you
    and your daddy…
    WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO PAY USBACK FOR ALL THESE YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. harley says:

    JUST DID GOOGLE CHECK…
    malcom glazer…doesn’t live in tampabay but established the
    glazer family foundation…
    they built a chidlrens museum…give vision tests to underpriviledged kids…
    does huge amount of work with kids in tampa bay….a really neat neat foundation
    established to give backto the kids in his city.
    WHAT DOES CLARK DO….Welll he does everything under the chiefs..
    and im’ sure he’s done some stuff under the radar…BUT WHERES THE
    GIVINGBACK TO THE CITY THAT HAS MADE HIM A BILLIONAIRE
    WITH THIS TEAM????????????????????????
    this town made these guys millions and millions..without the support that
    team isn’t worth as much….wheres the fair giving back……..??????????????????/

  5. Rick Nichols says:

    Agreed. I don’t like to see The Star use an anonymous source in any of its stories unless the circumstances truly dictate such a move. A story about the Chiefs is hardly of the magnitude worthy of even considering this possibility. Again, why can’t Mr. Pioli and/or Mr. Hunt just step up to the microphone and clear up the matter once and for all. Mr. Hunt, you tell us you really care about the fans. Then act like it and give them the respect they’re due! No, the use of an anonymous source just makes the paper look like it’s willing to prostitute itself for what is essentially a story about someone else’s story. If CBS has it right, then they have the scoop and not The Star. But if they have it wrong, then so much for that “scoop”. And, if so, will they acknowledge the error? Doubt it. Personally, I’d like to see The Star scale back its coverage of the Chiefs, especially in light of the poor season they’re having this year, and move on to other things that are truly worthy of some ink. Are the Chiefs listed among The Star’s major advertisers? No. Enough said.

  6. U.M. says:

    Interestingly, the CBS story relies on a single unnamed source: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/blog/jason-la-canfora/20563159/the-nfl-today-embattled-chiefs-gm-pioli-offered-two-year-extension-yet-to-sign

    HC: That’s what I said. It’s one unnamed source versus another unnamed source. Take your pick.

  7. FACTS says:

    I told, and warned, this board two years about how Hunt was intentionality ruining this team, to make the fans lose interest so he would not have as much of a problem when he announced he is moving the Chiefs to LA, once the LA stadium is ready…. WELL GUESS WHAT FOLKS?..

    LA approved that new stadium, and it will be ready in… guess what?…. 2 years.

    Hunt does not care about KC…. his plans since his father died have been to move this team….. and it is all going according to his plan.. .and you heard it first RIGHT HERE.

    • the dude says:

      Look Gumshoe Joe, if there is any team looking to hotfoot it to LA, it would be the Rams, they didn’t get the new stadium they wanted so they are more likely to go than the Chefs are.

      • mike says:

        I would not be surprised if the Raiders headed beck to L.A. again. They play in the worst stadium in the NFL. They have a fan base from when they were there before. Also, Al Davis’ death would possibly make it more likely.

        • FACTS says:

          Nah, Oaaklnad loves thme some Raiders and last week I decided the fans Oakland are best anywhere…. except KC. Did you hear those fans going C R A Z Y for the A’s ? It brought a tear to my eye.

          I miss having a pro sports team in the post season….

          If it wasnt for KU basketball this area would have NOTHING! FOR 30 YEARS!!

  8. harley says:

    hearne…you act like this story is one of national importance…that the cia
    is involved…that you have inside information about these anonymous
    sources (like they’re really important)…then you act like you know how
    the star works (heck just watch a movie and you can find thatout)..
    then you act like you’re in rthe know…truth is hearne is that this is
    not a big story…noone cares besdies glaze and a few people on here…
    its old news already…everyone feels that pioli should eventaully be replaced….
    your sources are really fake…and you want to makethis deal bigger than
    your never ending long drawn out and absoutely stupid series on that
    defunct bar on main.
    sheeeesh….lets get serious….this is nottaht big of a deal and noone really
    cares more than you about making it out to be some story involving national
    defense.
    move on….you’re boring the natives.

    HC: I’m boring the natives? This is primarily a story of local interest and I agree with Rick about using a single unnamed source for a minor sports gossip item being over the top.

  9. the dude says:

    Hearne is right about this one, using a single CI is a stupid move on a private sports contract.

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