Friday, October 10, 2008

Great Time To Be a Phillies Fan. But Can You Be An Objective Reporter At The Same Time?

CLEARLY, ON THE day after the Phillies topped the Dodgers 3-2 in the National League Championship Series, it is an excellent time to be a Phillies fan.

Tyler Kepner, a New York Times sports reporter, wrote about his love for the Phillies in the Times a few days ago:

If you could relive the happiest moment of your childhood, what would it be? I’m lucky, I suppose, because I never have to think twice.

It was Oct. 8, 1983, a quarter of a century ago Wednesday. I was 8, and nothing mattered as much as the Philadelphia Phillies. My hero was Steve Carlton. My favorite place was Veterans Stadium. That night, Carlton pitched the Phillies into the World Series at the Vet.

There were almost 65,000 fans in that concrete bowl, chanting “Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!” all game long. Never has a cheer been so impassioned without the use of a profanity.


The question I have for you is this: with Kepner's undying love for the Phillies now broadcast to the world, can you trust his daily reporting on the NLCS to be fair and balanced? Do you think the folks in Los Angeles read Kepner's stuff with mistrust?

Should reporters put their opinions out there for the world to see? Or should they simply report?

(photo is by Reuters via the NYTimes)

19 comments:

jessica lista said...

I feel now that displayed his love for the Phillies, many people are not gonna believe his coverage is going to be balanced and fair. It is hard already to trust the media and everything so displaying a love for a certain team just makes it that much harder to believe he is being fair in his reporting.

danzee88 said...

The problem with bias in sports is that you will always put your 2 cents towards the team you love. Its great to like a team, its not as good to try and sway people to think your way on an issue especially because people often put money on sports

Anonymous said...

i like the idea that he is showing his love for the phillies. i mean, it makes it personal, and i think that with such a subject, it can and should be personal. if it was politics or anything like that, it would be a different story.

Pete B said...

Just reading through it I found it somewhat amusing he states "never has a cheer been so impassioned as the 'Beat LA' chants of last night. "
I'm curious if he remembers that chant is famous for the Boston Celtics - LA Lakers NBA series.
I would as an LA fan doubt his credibility on the games, but I wouldn't hold it against him. Every reporter has his own sports biases. I watch PTI daily and Michael Wilbon can report accurately about his Chicago teams, be there toughest critics, but at the same time hopes they win and enjoys seeing them do well.

HouseMD said...

When it comes to sports there's no such thing as fair and unfair reporting. It's like here are the facts: these plays were made, these runs were scored by these players, this team won, this player was traded here, etc... I don't think there is anything wrong with him stating that he loves the Phillies and that his favorite childhood memory involves them. He can still report facts fairly.

KBagenstose said...

I think what makes a great sports story is getting the story beyond the numbers, and fleshing out the emotions of the game and players. I think it would be pretty difficult to write a piece that gives equal attention to both sides. Would you trust a piece written by a blue-blooded dodger's fan to provide unbiased reporting on the story of the series?

Lo_le_tah said...

I agree with above. Reporting on sports objectively takes all the fun out of reading a sport article. It's more of an editorial. If you want an objective view look at the scores and leave it at that. Passion about one's team shouldn't have an effect whether they are trustworthy

katie tully said...

opinions make stories more interesting

Geo said...

Opinions make stories more interesting?

How do you know whose opinion to trust? One writer might say something is good. Another might say it sucks. Which writer is correct?

How do you know who to trust?

- George (the objective journalist)

Megan McCue Journalism said...

I don't know if there is necessarily anything wrong with him saying this, if you watch any Philly news station it is all about loving and supporting to the Phillies. Sports are pretty objective in the light that scores and stats are concrete. The reporter can't sway the story because thousands of other people were watching. If it was another subject it would be wrong for him to share a personal story in my opinion. For this case though, I think Philadelphia reporters showing love for the Phillies creates unity and support for the community.

Fuad O. said...

In my opinion, I would think that no matter what circumstances may come into a journalist's life, that individual must remain objective. However, people nowadays want more than just the report itself. People want to hear the opinion(s) of journalists, so that they can make one for themselves.

As far as who to "trust" for your information, people generally tend to side with the person or persons they most agree upon. So its not much of a trust issue in my humble opinion, but rather who/which (the writer or journalist) is saying the right things that the person can relate or affirm with.

Katie Goode said...

It might not be the most objective reporting, but I think incorporating his opinion makes the story special. I liked reading about his recollection of the Phillies and I think it just gives his story that extra spark. Merely reporting the score is not enough, it lacks luster! At least Phillies fans can read his articles and feel a similar connection. GO PHILLIES!

Dana said...

Although the anecdote about Kepner's childhood memory embellishes it and gives it a more personal feel, it is hard to be able to trust him to be objective when writing about the Phillies. This article would probably only interest Phillies' fans. Los Angeles fans are bound to approach this story with mistrust because there are chances that Kepner will only report on what the Phillies did well on in the game. As a journalist, one must take into consideration whether they are willing to lose the trust of readers in order to make a more interesting story.

-dana ricci

JulioCesar said...

Its sad that you can't show emotion for your favorite team growing up. Its just part of the competitive nature of the sport that makes fans mistrust columnist for writing like this.

Sean Purvis said...

One of the first things you learn as a journalism student is to never put yourself into a story. This doesn't make for the most interesting or sentimental type of writing, but it is the right way to do things. Also, this was in a New York newspaper. Lets not forget who choked to let the Phillies into the playoffs last year and, to an extent, this year. This may alienate his fan base. I still find it to be extremely hard to separate myself from the hometown team that I've supported for so long. And really, how could you not love the vet? That was the most beautiful shithole that I've ever watched a baseball game in. There's nothing like it. I've seen games in both New York stadiums, Seattle, Citizens Bank Park and Baltimore, but none of them compare to The Vet. The only one that comes close is Citizens Bank Park. SO I can see why the writer gets very nostalgic about the 83' Phillies. Still though, he should keep his feelings about the Phillies better swept under the rug. One thing i could understand is, if the editor made the decision for him to write the article like that.

courtney schmidt said...

When it comes to sports, every person has their favorite teams, and journalists are no different. I believe that you can have a favorite team, and still put your opinions aside when it comes to covering the opposing team, when it comes to doing your job. I personally am a Dodgers fan, gasp I know in the city of Brotherly Love I can feel the glares on me constantly, however I believe as a journalist I could represent the Phillies fairly.. even as a Dodgers fan. I do believe that the public already has trust issues with the media, but I believe good journalists can prove themselves to the public.

Lauren Grant said...

Journalist should just report news and not incorporate their opinions, enless they have a job that calls for them to do so. With the Phillies being such a hot topic, it may be hard for a journalist to refrain from incorpoating their own ideas. To avoid doing so, the journalist should focus on sticking to the facts, and if looking for opinions, he/she should use quotes from other people to avoid making it seem like they were writing from their own point of view.

EricaRosenblum said...

I think it is very weird that he would write about his love for one team over another in an article because there is absolutely no neutrality. He blatantly broadcasts his opinion for all to know. I definitely think it would be hard to trust his coverage of games/sporting events/team players because you would always take into consideration (if you had read this article) that he has a deep love for the Phillies. Maybe if this had been an editorial it would be different. It's not as if he is lying to the public or anything, its just his opinion. However, this article could definitely make it so that people are less likely to believe that he participates in balanced reporting when it comes to his beloved team.

Kaliah S. said...

As with any other event/story that has two opposing teams and there's no shades of gray, this question of staying neutral and objective comes up. While journalists have dedicated themselves and their craft to telling the people the truth (no matter how harsh), they have this one small weakness that causes all of this neutrality to constantly be questioned:
they're human.
As humans, we tend to like certain things and dislike other things because it conflicts with the success of the things we do like. It's expected of journalists to turn their emotions off and report as unbiased as possible. But when you have a history with something, it's knida hard to turn it off.