The YES Network’s Jack Curry was the first to tweet the news that the Yankees signed Andy Pettitte. Buster Olney, not permitted to break news first on twitter, tweeted the information a few minutes later after filing his report with ESPN. ESPN credited Olney. Jack Curry claims he was the victim of an “injustice.” Was he really?
Jack Curry is no longer a journalist. He once worked as a respected one at the New York Times. He now works for the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network. His income stems from the Yankees. His “reports” are subject to Kremlin approval and, thus, akin to a press release. ESPN did not credit him, neither did his former employer The New York Times, The New York Post, or Sports Illustrated. He crossed over. He is, for practical purposes, a mouthpiece for the Yankees.
Buster Olney most likely did nothing wrong. The implication, fostered by Curry’s scores of retweets (79 as of this writing), is Olney saw his tweet and then scrambled in a matter of minutes to steal credit for it. The more plausible explanation is Olney filed his report earnestly and independently, and Curry tweeted the information minutes before he could without his knowledge. This sounds reasonable especially since Olney goes out of his way to read, to credit and to provide exposure for every far flung beat writer in the country in his column on a daily basis. He is also required to file things with ESPN before tweeting. Upon finding out what happened, he credited Curry for tweeting it first. He had no control over how he was credited on air.
This was not an “injustice.” ESPN has a history crediting (or “confirming”) stories that warrants the utmost skepticism, though looking at this instance specifically it’s not clear this was an active distortion. YES released information at the precise time or, most likely given Bristol bureaucracy, slightly after ESPN received Olney’s report. It’s entirely probable the people working to get that story out were not simultaneously monitoring twitter to see Curry’s tweet. The question was whether it was proper to sell it on air as an Olney report if it had been technically been preempted by a de facto Yankee press release. Assuming Olney acted earnestly and had filed a report independently, there was a reasonable justification for doing so.
The salient point is no one cares. This is entirely inside baseball for media people. No one outside the media keeps a scorecard crediting reporters for minor scoops. Twitter progresses the story immediately. Unless it is significant, investigative reporting, the initial source of information is mostly irrelevant. We know Yahoo! reported the Miami story. Who reported Prince Fielder signing with the Tigers? Who cares? Would anyone have remembered who “broke” the Pettitte signing even hours later had Jack Curry not made such an uproarious stink about it?
[Photo via US Presswire]