Today, Dez Bryant got into an argument with ESPNDallas reporter Jean-Jacques Taylor in the Cowboys locker room. It was reported via a Tweet from Robert Klemko of TheMMQB. Immediately, of course, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote an entire article based on the limited information in Klemko's lone Tweet. In usual PFT style, they actively deleted any comment on their article informing them of their half-story.
Other than the fact that this is entire situation is not newsworthy, it also epitomizes the problem with the major sports media outlets that has been brewing for quite some time.
2015 Sports Journalism: Report the rumors and half-stories immediately, and let the facts roll in later. If the facts are juicy enough, go ahead and report those. If not, don't worry about it. Above all else, create drama if possible.
Two weeks ago when Ricardo Lockette of the Seattle Seahawks suffered a serious neck injury against the Cowboys, a Houston news reporter named Marcus Sullivan posted a Vine clip of Dez Bryant which he claimed showed Bryant gloating about Lockette getting injured.
Naturally, Bryant was not happy, and he let the reporters after the game hear about it. Naturally, the “story” that was created was about Bryant's tirade rather than about the absolutely ludicrous claim made by Sullivan.
Two days later the Cowboys released Joseph Randle, and Jean-Jacques Taylor posted this Tweet:
Naturally, Bryant didn't appreciate being unfairly lumped in with guys like Greg Hardy and Joseph Randle in that context (which is a bizarre claim, especially considering Taylor himself remarked multiple times this past off-season that Bryant hasn't had an off-field incident since 2012 and deserves a new contract). This –among other things Taylor has said– is what Bryant was arguing with Taylor about.
The argument escalated when Devin Street came to Bryant's aid and claimed that Taylor called him the n-word. The other members of the media in the room deny that claim.
The only thing worthy of discussion here is how major sports media outlets like PFT and ESPN have gotten out of control, and it's time the players and fans demand better. We deserve better than unscrupulous “journalists” like Mike Florio, Jean-Jacques Taylor, and all those who seek to emulate their clickbait tactics.
I just watched a video of ESPN reporter John Clayton suggesting that Bryant owes Taylor an apology and that Taylor did nothing wrong. I've got another take on it: Taylor shouldn't be allowed in the Cowboys locker room. The locker room is the players' space, and if a reporter is causing problems by trashing players on the internet, then that reporter should lose any entitlement to be there.
Look at the tweet I posted above. If Taylor had said that to Bryant's face, wouldn't it be fair of Bryant to address it? Doesn't Bryant have a right to be upset at someone in his locker room who has been smearing him on the internet all week? Further, this is far from the first time Taylor has had issues with Cowboys players. If you want to point to a locker room cancer, point at Taylor and others like him.
Bryant says he won't talk to the media again. Personally, I hope he doesn't. He has a right to be angry. At any rate, it's time to hold the media accountable for the vitriol they spew and the problems they create. It's time to hold the media accountable for reporting on rumors and half-truths rather than the actual story.
I understand this is a common complaint about all categories of media, but sports media is the only category I'm aware of (outside of politics) where this type of behavior is celebrated rather than condemned as it should be.
There are some awesome places to get your sports news, folks. Lots of great independent blogs out there that will wait until a story has fully developed before reporting on it, and will do the research to make sure they get the facts right the first time.
Let's make a point to seek those sources out and give them our loyal readership.