Calipari-to-Laker Report: Did Chapman Blur Fact and Fantasy?
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So here's the conundrum with the Information Age: Too much media and not enough sources.
And shock value has gone from sardonic humor to a cottage industry theme.
Did the infamous National Lampoon magazine cover from 1973 start this trend? That issue not only became one of the most remembered covers in print media history, it is still the magazine's best seller.
Its creators went on to spawn the likes of Animal House and Saturday Night Live and inspire sites like The Onion, and somewhere in the process -- probably because it was so financially successful -- snark crossed over into real-world coverage. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report owe their popularity to this; it's become such a successful format that young adults aged 18-25 cite them for their primary news source. And that demographic now keeps expanding into the 40s and 50s.
But here's the difference: Shows like those actually pioneered new methods in checking sources. When a public figure made a comment, the producers diligently searched the archives to see if it was consistent with what he/she stated previously. The humor came from the many times when it didn't. This was so effective, the mainstream media followed, adapting the technique, too, and the public was better served for it.
Checking sources. What a concept! Unfortunately, that fundamental of responsible reporting is often ignored in this age of social media where everyone shoots first and asks questions later in their desire to break a story.
Which brings us to Rex Chapman. The former Kentucky hoopster is now the Wildcats' radio analyst. He's close to the program, and that infers credibility. It now remains to be seen how much of it he has blown by being reckless on Twitter, claiming John Calipari is about to become the next coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
He cites no sources. Or, if they must remain anonymous, no reason for why this story should be believed. Real reporters have since done their best to track it down -- not by mindlessly parroting the obligatory denials by the Lakers and Calipari -- but by doing their own checking.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports noted that "Chapman was seen with coaching agent and Calipari confidant William Wesley this weekend." OK, there's a clue. But that's all it is, and he reported it as such. We're left to speculate that a stealth channel of communication was in process between Calipari's people and Laker GM Mitch Kupchak's go-betweens. It's the same sort of scenario as when Nick Saban and the Texas Longhorns were courting each other.
Who knows? Calipari may yet re-locate to Los Angeles in the near future. But as Wetzel also noted, there's a protocol that must be followed. There's a protocol in reporting it, too, and if Chapman wants to be taken seriously, it's time he truly learned his new craft and followed it.