7. What's the Future of Investigative Reporting?
RCS: At RealClearSports, investigative reporting is something that fascinates us because its future seems so tenuous. There is a concern that as newspapers fade away so will quality investigative reporting. You, however, have powerfully criticized the work Selena Roberts, a former New York Times and current Sports Illustrated sports columnist and investigative reporter, for what she has written about the Duke Lacrosse team, as well as what she has most recently written about Alex Rodriguez’s alleged use of steroids in high school.
You wrote, “Roberts’ book is a long-winded blog. Why it’s being treated as an unimpeachable piece of journalism can only be explained by the cushy position she’s been handed by The New York Times, ESPN and Sports Illustrated and the unchallenged institutional bias found within the elite sports media institutions.”
It seems ironic, but serious online outlets like Yahoo! Sports are producing quality investigative reporting; and a New York Times journalist, from your perspective, is producing -- to put it mildly -- less than the quality investigative reporting. If this continues, do you think investigative sports reporting will to have be sustained by new “elite sports media institutions”?
Whitlock: I'm very excited by what Yahoo! Sports is doing with college sports. It appears those guys want to be the Bible on college sports and aggressively challenge the NCAA. That's a good brand for them. I'll be interested in seeing what AOL/Fanhouse does as it continues to evolve.
Investigative journalism is dying. It's like good policing. Cases go from red (crime) to green (overtime pay) to black (solved cased). Good journalism is expensive. Newspapers aren't paying anymore. Most sports web sites are tied to a television network, and most television networks are in business with a sports league and that stands in the way of objective journalism.
Also let me clarify my position on Selena Roberts' book. It's a celebrity-gossip book. These sorts of books get written about Hollywood celebs all the time. The problem with Roberts' book is the way ESPN and all the other mainstream, allegedly serious media outlets have treated it like a great piece of journalism. CBS and Katie Couric, for example, don't lead the evening news with the allegations in the latest Britney Spears unauthorized biography. Bob Costas sat down with Roberts and treated her like she was Woodward and Bernstein. She didn't even write the second coming of "Game of Shadows". She wrote the Game of Innuendo. Skip Bayless should've interviewed her on Third and 10.