Sports Illustrated reporter failed Journalism 101
What part of "report the news; don't make it," does Michael Bamberger not understand?
The Sports Illustrated senior reporter and former professional golf caddie says he spent a sleepless night last week before running to officials at the LPGA Samsung World championship to say he thought Michelle Wie violated a golf rule.
Get a scoop and it makes news, but don't enter the golf match and then consider yourself a fair bystander.|
I don't play or follow golf, although like many in Honolulu, I'm interested in how our young local athletes such as Wie are doing. Having been paid to report the news for 30 years, I also feel I have a stake in what fellow reporters do, because the people I write about might think I act like them.
I sure don't act like Michael Bamberger.
The rules of golf are somewhat sacred, according to the breast-beating reports after Bamberger ratted out Wie. Golf, I have read, operates with a self-reporting honor code: You do the crime, you drop the dime. How this squares with the curious idea of "taking a mulligan" where a golfer gets a second shot, is confusing, although I suspect the "we have rules, except when we don't" mentality is what attracts so many politicians to the golf course.
Reporters realize they have privileges and responsibilities. Although the press likes to say we are to be treated like the rest of the public, it is the press, not the public, that gets served up all the statistics and information at a football game; it is the press, not the public, that gets to go into the locker room to talk to the star players; and it is the press, not the public, that coaches are required to meet with after the game.
For those privileges, we in return must tell our readers what is going on. We must do it fairly, accurately and quickly. There is nothing in the tenets of journalism about fiddling with the rules. Get a scoop and it makes news, but don't enter the golf match and then consider yourself a fair bystander.
If Bamberger were acting as a reporter he could have written about what he saw, then officials could react to it. Bamberger wouldn't even have to wait to go to print, he could have had it out on the Internet within minutes. He was paid to do that. His readers expected him to do that. In the end, Bamberger failed to do his job and failed his readers.
Richard Borreca is the Star-Bulletin's state Capitol bureau chief. My Turn is an occasional column written by Star-Bulletin staff members.
My Turn is a periodic column written by Star-Bulletin staff members expressing their personal views.