Final week, Charissa Thompson opened her yap on the podcast Pardon My Take and, for causes nonetheless largely not understood by the remainder of us, thought it was super-cute to confess that she has, up to now, made up sideline stories. How cute!
“I’ve stated this earlier than, so I haven’t been fired for saying it, however I’ll say it once more. I might make up the report typically as a result of A, the coach wouldn’t come out at halftime or it was too late and I used to be like, ‘I didn’t wish to screw up the report,’ so I used to be like, ‘I’m simply going to make this up,’” Thompson stated on the podcast.
“To begin with no coach goes to get mad if I say, ‘Hey, we have to cease hurting ourselves, we must be higher on third down, we have to cease turning the ball over and do a greater job of getting off the sector.’ Like, they’re not going to appropriate me on that,” she defined. “So I’m prefer it’s high quality, I’m simply going to make up the report.”
After a major quantity of backlash on social media from journalists who A, take their jobs critically and B, discover it offensive to deceive the general public, Thompson put out a press release half-heartedly strolling her feedback again, however the injury was already completed.
“When on a podcast this week, I stated I might make up stories early in my profession once I labored as a sideline reporter earlier than I transitioned to my present host position,” Thompson stated. “Working within the media I perceive how vital phrases are and I selected flawed phrases to explain the state of affairs. I’m sorry. I’ve by no means lied about something or been unethical throughout my time as a sports activities broadcaster,” she wrote.
So the place to even begin with this?
First off, what’s Charissa Thompson doing on a Barstool-affiliated podcast, contemplating that Barstool made their title, largely, off misogyny, harassing ladies, and assuring the “cool women” that they’re, the truth is, cool, and it’s the folks declaring their file of sexism which might be really the issue? Thompson calls different sideline reporters “a few of her greatest buddies,” however Tracy Wolfson has been focused by Barstool earlier than. So has Sam Ponder. So have dozens of different ladies working in sports activities media. (Full disclosure: I’ve additionally been focused by Barstool for years.)
Pour one out for the sisterhood, I suppose.
However secondly, there are such a lot of issues ethically flawed with Thompson admitting that she made up stories that she then disseminated to a mass viewers. Your job as a journalist is to not discover one thing, something, to say, however to report what is definitely happening. reporting as filling air time or having to need to say one thing when the digital camera is on you isn’t the job. The job is to get data to the viewers, and veteran sideline reporter Laura Okmin defined superbly tips on how to deal with coaches that gained’t converse or be interviewed in the course of the sport, blowing Thompson’s “Typically they gained’t discuss to me!” protection proper out of the water.
Okmin has informed me up to now that she, and most sideline reporters, do exactly as a lot prep in the course of the week for the sport because the crew within the broadcast sales space. She pours over the identical stat sheets, sits in on the identical conferences, does the identical interviews. But she has to determine tips on how to get huge quantities of details about, not simply the sport however the crew and its gamers, to an viewers, in an simply digestible format in lower than a minute. That may be a job that takes actual talent, dedication and hustle. By the use of exposition, please get pleasure from this video of ESPN’s Molly McGrath completely hauling ass (in heels) to get the post-game interview:
“However so what? We by no means get any information from sideline reporters anyway. Who cares?” Such was the chorus from a sure faction of the fanbase following Thompson’s feedback. I’m unsure tips on how to clarify to those that reporters mendacity to the general public is one thing they need to care about, however right here we’re. Secondly, you want solely suppose again to Kaylie Hartung’s reporting on Joe Burrow’s season-ending harm on Thursday evening or Lisa Salters on the sector throughout Damar Hamlin’s collapse on nationwide tv to know that’s not true.
Thompson justifying her pretend reporting by claiming that “nobody will get mad at me” for it’s so revealing of how she views sports activities journalism that she ought to most likely lose her job over it. How can anybody belief any data she imparts to the viewers once more? A journalist’s job is to not stay within the good graces of these she covers, particularly not NFL head coaches and gamers, although I’ll acknowledge the incestuous relationship between professional sports activities and broadcast “companions” today. However the truth that Thompson appears to suppose the first drawback with making up false stories is a coach being mad at her is revelatory.
I’m not going to take us down the highway of “broadcasters” versus “journalists.” Everyone knows that sports activities media way back made the calculation that ladies on the airwaves need to be enticing, along with working twice as arduous as their male counterparts to be taken critically, and that dedication has led to lots of people who don’t essentially care in regards to the ethics of reporting moving into the sector. It’s clear that ladies in sports activities media nonetheless need to work more durable than their male colleagues so as even get a foot within the door, a lot much less a primary position in an NFL broadcast. Thompson popping out and admitting how unseriously she takes her job, a job 1000’s of ladies would kill to have, looks like a slap within the face to each single girl working in sports activities media — from highschool sports activities to the professionals, it doesn’t matter what medium they work in.
There’s a warfare on journalists occurring throughout our nation and all over the world. To this point in 2023, 60 journalists have been killed on the job. T-shirts advocating the killing of journalists are in mainstream circulation and out there for buy as we converse. Elon Musk, the proprietor of X, has recurrently denigrated precise journalists and promoted “citizen journalism,” which isn’t fact-checked, sourced, edited, or corroborated. A big portion of the American public thinks journalists lie and make up data, although anybody who has labored for a reliable outlet will let you know isn’t true. Sure, the media does get tales flawed from time to time. However failure and fabrication aren’t the identical issues. Charissa Thompson simply gave all those that imagine journalists are liars and fabulists a whole podcast to hold their hats on.
So right here’s to the Laura Okmins, Suzy Kolbers, and Tracy Wolfsons. Right here’s to the Pam Olivers and Andrea Kremers and Lesley Vissers. Right here’s to the Lisa Salters and Kristina Pinks and Molly McGraths, the Kaylee Hartungs, Karthryn Tappens, and Melissa Starks. To all the ladies working in sports activities media who do their (too usually thankless) jobs with integrity and tenacity and poise — thanks.