Online Sports News: I’m Sticking With My Side-Door Approach

Some more on my front door (Yahoo! Sports) vs. side door (ESPN) approach to sports news online these days:

Last Friday, while scanning my Detroit News MSU Sports Newsletter, a story about New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush receiving $280,000 in benefits from his college team, USC, caught my eye. That story had been updated from a Wednesday night Associated Press story that was based on original reporting by Yahoo Sports that broke Tuesday night.

It took me three days to catch up with the original Yahoo! Sports story.

What caught my attention (still with me?) in
the story was this: “Lloyd Lake, who
allegedly provided improper benefits to Bush in 2005, has agreed to meet with
NCAA officials and give them evidence to help their investigation, Yahoo! Sports reported on its Web site, citing
two unidentified sources.” The story also reported that Yahoo! Sports had
acquired confidential e-mails in its pursuit of the story.

Now, if Yahoo! Sports is going to be my front door to the sports world after pre-Internet decades of reliance on mainstream media, I wanted to know who was doing all this reporting and why I should accept “two unidentified sources” from them.

It turns out the the reporters are Charles Robinson and Jason Cole, neither of whom I had ever heard of. I checked them out and discovered that they are not only the national NFL writers for Yahoo Sports, but that Cole covered the Miami Dolphins for 15 years at the Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association.

In fact, the Bush story is THEIR story. Cole and Robinson scooped the mainstream media (including ESPN) with an 8-month investigation of Bush, a former Heisman Trophy winner, that ran more than a year ago on Sept. 14, 2006.

Now (still with me?), I doubt most sports fans do that amount of research and back-tracking to check out the credibility of reporters who use unnamed sources.

But when it comes to my front door, I want to know who’s coming through the door.

And in this case, mainstream or not, I’m satisfied with Robinson and especially Cole’s credentials. I don’t like unnamed sources, but I do like most of the reporting I’ve seen from them on this story.

And, it’s another example of the side-door way in which many of us get our news these days.

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