Charissa Thompson making up quotes is not journalism

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, previously, made up sideline reviews. How lovely!

“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 said on the podcast.

“To start with no coach goes to get mad if I say, ‘Hey, we have to cease hurting ourselves, we should 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 big quantity of backlash on social media from journalists who A, take their jobs significantly and B, discover it offensive to misinform the general public, Thompson put out a statement half-heartedly strolling her feedback again, however the injury was already completed.

When on a podcast this week, I stated I might make up reviews early in my profession after I labored as a sideline reporter earlier than I transitioned to my present host position,” Thompson stated. “Working within the media I perceive how necessary phrases are and I selected flawed phrases to explain the scenario. 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 identify, largely, off misogyny, harassing women, and assuring the “cool women” that they’re, in reality, cool, and it’s the folks stating their file of sexism which might be really the issue? Thompson calls different sideline reporters “a few of her finest pals,” however Tracy Wolfson has been focused by Barstool earlier than. So has Sam Ponder. So have dozens of different girls working in sports activities media. (Full disclosure: I’ve additionally been focused by Barstool for years.)

Pour one out for the sisterhood, I assume.

However secondly, there are such a lot of issues ethically flawed with Thompson admitting that she made up reviews 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 occurring. Taking a look at reporting as filling air time or having to should say one thing when the digicam is on you isn’t the job. The job is to get data to the viewers, and veteran sideline reporter Laura Okmin defined fantastically tips on how to deal with coaches that received’t converse or be interviewed throughout the sport, blowing Thompson’s “Generally they received’t speak to me!” protection proper out of the water.

Okmin has instructed me previously that she, and most sideline reporters, just do as a lot prep throughout the week for the sport because the group 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 group and its gamers, to an viewers, in an simply digestible format in lower than a minute. That could be a job that takes actual ability, dedication and hustle. By means of exposition, please take pleasure in 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 data from sideline reporters anyway. Who cares?” Such was the chorus from a sure faction of the fanbase following Thompson’s feedback. I’m undecided tips on how to clarify to those who reporters mendacity to the general public is one thing they need to care about, however right here we’re. Secondly, you want solely assume again to Kaylie Hartung’s reporting on Joe Burrow’s season-ending damage 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 faux 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 in all probability 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” lately. However the truth that Thompson appears to assume the first drawback with making up false reviews 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 should be engaging, along with working twice as onerous as their male counterparts to be taken significantly, and that willpower has led to lots of people who don’t essentially care in regards to the ethics of reporting entering into the sector. It’s clear that ladies in sports activities media nonetheless should work more durable than their male colleagues so as even get a foot within the door, a lot much less a main position in an NFL broadcast. Thompson popping out and admitting how unseriously she takes her job, a job 1000’s of girls would kill to have, appears 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 battle on journalists occurring throughout our nation and around the globe. 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 available for purchase as we converse. Elon Musk, the proprietor of X, has repeatedly 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, regardless that anybody who has labored for a authentic outlet will let you know isn’t true. Sure, the media does get tales flawed at times. However failure and fabrication aren’t the identical issues. Charissa Thompson simply gave all those that consider 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 typically thankless) jobs with integrity and tenacity and poise — thanks.