Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Journalism 101

So here is your assignment, class, a day after Edinson Volquez stepped out into the World Series carrying a burden of which he apparently knew nothing:

Tell us who wins. You the journalist or you the human being.

Tell us what you do when word comes down that Volquez' father has died earlier in the day, and you have an iPhone with 55 social media apps and a Twitter account and a blog and lord only knows what else. Do you tweet it/blog it/post it on whatever website you represent? And does your trigger finger even hesitate if you somehow also know that, per the family's request, the Kansas City Royals didn't tell Volquez before sending him out to pitch Game 1?

I guess your answer might depend on for whom you work or how ingrained your instinct is to get news out there as immediately as possible (and in this day and age, that means instantaneously). It might even have something to do with how old you are.

Me, I'm old. And I've broken my share of stories. And so even though I have all those journalistic instincts, too, this isn't even a decision for me.

I sit on it.

I sit on it, because I know if I tweet it/blog it/post it, all the webbed world will know it immediately, and that includes everyone sitting in the stands watching Volquez throw BBs at the Mets. And I know a lot of them will assume, because I've put it out there, that Volquez already knows his father is dead. And I know that means there's a good chance he's going to get the worst news of his life from Michael the Accountant or Joe the Real Estate Developer sitting in the boxseats behind the Royals dugout.

I can't even imagine how horrible that would be.

MICHAEL (or Joe): Hey, Eddie! Sorry about your dad dying!

VOLQUEZ: Wait, what? What?!

Awful. The absolute worst.

Nobody deserves to hear that news, that way. He deserves to hear it the way Volquez heard it, from his family behind a closed door in the Royals clubhouse after the game was over. He deserves, every human being deserves, to be accorded that sort of  compassion and discretion.

So, there it is. I'd have been beaten on the story, because someone else surely would have tweeted/blogged/posted it. Good for them. Have at it.

I know whoever did it would sleep well that night, because that's who they are. And it's what they get paid to do.

But you know what?

Because I didn't do it, so would I.

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