I don't know Mike Ortiz, Jr. I never heard of him until Wednesday night. I never read his blog, Did You See That?!, before Wednesday night. I'm going to make a wild guess that I will never read his blog again.
DYST is described as "Syracuse's First All Sports Newspaper," which is incorrect on so many levels that my brain hurts from just thinking about it. Whatever.
I don't know if Ortiz is a well-intentioned kid who got in over his head in order to try and make a name for himself or if he's a manipulator who just wants to be famous. If I had to guess, I would say that he is the former (though the fact that they are still pushing his story on Twitter hours after it was proven untrue makes me wonder). They've been running that site for a while and, I assume, not really seeing a lot of traffic. It can be frustrating and I know that feeling well. I remember when I started TNIAAM and spent hours working on a piece that got 20 views. You feel like you've poured your heart and soul into something and no one gives a shit.
So, you decide to step out on a limb with a shaky rumor and roll the dice on the off-chance that you're right, that you're the first person to break the story and, boom, you've got yourself more traffic and Twitter followers than you can imagine. Even when the story is proven untrue and denied from every conceivable angle, you keep pushing. You blast it on Twitter incessantly. You do whatever you have to do to make important people notice and then, when they do, you keep riding that wave all the way to...well...wherever it leads.
Update: You even blast out an email to actual Syracuse-area journalists with your "scoop," letting them know you're running point on this massive news story.
What's hard to grasp is that, when it's all said and done, Ortiz and DYST's moment will fade. People will not turn to them in the future for breaking news. Any surge in Twitter followers or daily views will subside. Soon enough, they'll be back to where they started. Actually, they'll be worse off because instead of having no credibility, they have negative credibility. Their only option now is to become a tabloid, a rumor-mill. Like so many failed blogs before you, you've painted yourself into a corner you can never get out of.
Worst of all, by doing what they did, DYST screwed over every other blog out there that tries to do the right thing. You know, the 95% of us out there who have what they don't. Because when it comes to blogs, the sins of one are the sins of all.
When Jim Boeheim invariably comments, he'll say something about "blogs" and it will drip with a disdain usually reserved for child molesters. Folks in the media will rinse and repeat their mantra about the wild west mentality of blogs and how they can't be trusted and exist to incite and enrage. The old adages have been confirmed, blogs are run by idiots and shouldn't be given the time of day.
Even though most blogs these days actually care and try to do their thing within a code of behavior, one dumb article by one dumb blog ruins it for the rest of us. When a small newspaper makes an error, no one lumps the Wall Street Journal or Post-Standard with them. But when a blog no one has ever heard of does something like this, every blog gets to hear about it.
Well, congrats to DYST and Ortiz. You got what you wanted. You got someone to tweet-blast the rumor to people like me and Brent Axe in the hopes we'd take the bait. We didn't but Deadspin did and now we have to listen to a whole bunch of media folks comment on Boeheim's status. The tragic irony is that you actually created a news cycle.
When we randomly remember to check your site in a few months and see a GoDaddy placeholder page instead, last night's absurd rumor will be your legacy. And one more stain on all our reputations, even as we're all trying so desperately to be nothing like you.
Oh, and congrats to the Syracuse walk-ins last night.