Real talk: If TNIAAM wrote an article right now breaking the news that Andrew White III has committed to play for the Syracuse Orange next season, would you believe it 100 percent? Would you take us at our word that we had crossed all of our Ts and dotted all of our Is to ensure that there is absolutely no way we could be wrong? Would you put your absolute faith in us that we are a credible source of inside information regarding Syracuse Athletics on par with the reporters are Syracuse.com and The Daily Orange?
Cause I'll be totally honest with you, I don't think I would. And I'm one of the guys who runs this place.
Ultimately, it would be my reputation on the line and I don't think TNIAAM has put in the work necessary to be able to say we have earned that complete trust.
The point is not to say we do a shitty job over here. I like to think we do a good job at what we do. We try to write interesting articles and we try to add a little opinion and insight to the news gathered by others. But we also don't pretend to be something we're not. We're not news-seekers. Except for a beatwriter here and there we don't have people with their ears to the ground. We're not forging relationships with sources inside SU Athletics.
We know we can't do any of that as well as the professionals who do it for a living, so we gladly leave it to them.
And in that way, we hand our trust over to the folks at Syracuse.com, The Post-Standard, The Daily Orange, and local TV stations to do all of that legwork, ask the questions that need to be asked, and find the answers to questions SU fans are asking.
I bring all of this up because I can't help but notice there's been a strong anti-local media trend online for some time now. I suppose its only natural that some fans are going to dislike the media because they see them as agitators and troublemakers. Since its not the media's job to be 100 percent positive and "support" the program, that makes them "enemies" of the program from time to time.
Of course, that's nonsense. It's not a journalist's job to cozy up to their subject. If you're working a beat, the last thing you should ever be is partial or fawning. There are "news outlets" that will bring such bias into the way they report on things, but that's not how its supposed to be.
That's not to say the media should constantly be looking for problems. It simply means they're looking for the truth, whatever form that takes. If it means the team is winning and everyone's happy, they report on that. If it means the team has violated NCAA rules, they report on that.
It doesn't always make for fun times for programs and their fans, but ultimately that's not who journalists serve. They serve everyone. Fans, people who hate sports, people who live in the city where the team is located, people who go to the university, people who have nothing to do with any of it.
I know for a fact that we here at TNIAAM don't do that. We serve Syracuse fans. And that's what almost all of our online bretheren are doing as well. With that comes inherent bias and imbalance. If something terrible happens to a Syracuse basketball player and that news has yet to see the light of day, we might not report it given what it will mean for the team we root for. If a recruit is choosing between SU and another school, some SU sites will try to impart some kind of motivation to that recruit (even if it's none of our business). Those who cover recruiting, many of whom do a great job, will ultimately hold off on important news when they feel as though it might negatively-impact a recruit's experience. Whether or not that's "right" isn't the point, but the fact that it introduces biases and partiality into the mix simply means you have to know you might not always get the full story from them.
To say nothing of "Cuse Insiders" on Twitter and message board with their "sources" and inside scoops. Anonymous people with Syracuse-themed usernames who never have to be accountable to anyone. Yes, there are legitimate people who have connections to SU Athletics and know what's going on before it's announced. But many times (too many for me to count), they've offered up confirmations and breaking news that never came to pass. Often, when what they say does happen, they just got lucky after throwing shit against a wall.
Unlike, say, a Syracuse.com journalist, who has to put their reputation on the line every day to confirm even the tiniest piece of information. Who has to walk into the locker room and stand face-to-face with the people they cover after writing something negative about them. Who will report a recruit's decision ASAP regardless of how that might affect the recruit's "moment." News is news and it belongs to everyone, even when that doesn't feel good to you or I.
Maybe that all sounds weird coming from a guy who's been blogging about SU from the West Coast for the better part of a decade, but time gives you perspective. Writing about breaking news that long also proves to you who you can trust and who just wants their name in the credits.
Whatever percieved issues you might have with the reporters who cover Syracuse, either because you think they hate the program or because Scott Shafer made you see them as the enemy, ask yourself who you trust when it comes down to it. Whose confirmation is the one that lets you know for sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the story is correct? Who is the final source of information you need about the thing you love? And if it's not an embedded reporter whose entire job is to be in the heart of the action and speak truth, ask yourself why?