CC: Adam Schefter on Countdown: Harbaugh to Michigan

Submitted by Laveranues on December 26th, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Presented as an aside to discussion about drafting Andrew Luck, "sources say" Harbaugh to Ann Arbor.  He usually has good information.


Fuzzy Dunlop

December 26th, 2010 at 7:27 PM ^

The idea that Schefter shouldn't be taken seriously because he uses anonymous sources is moronic.  I guess Woodward and Bernstein aren't "real reporters" either?

Reporters like Schefter are able to get confidential information because their sources trust them to maintain their anonymity.  If he discloses his source to satisfy people such as you, he'll never get another scoop again.

So why do we trust people like Schefter, who refuse to reveal their sources?  Because, time after time, Schefter has been proven to be right.  He has credibility because he is typically correct.  You can't lump him in with other jackasses who are repeatedly proven wrong, just because he maintains his sources' anonymity. 

Section 1

December 26th, 2010 at 10:46 PM ^

what rules journalists are supposed to apply in granting anonymity.

Sources don't get anonymity becuase they ask for it.  They only get it when they can prove that they are vulnerable and may be subject to firing, prosection, danger, et cetera.  Writers only grant it when they have consulted with editors, and they have backed up assertions with other sources.  And then, it is never, ever, enough to say that "an anonymous source said..."  What is required is to say, "a person who is in the position of ____, spoke on condition of anonymity, because ______."

Even that carries with it some unfortunate dubiousness.  We don't know who the source is.  We don't know why the source might be motivated to say certain things.  We don't know who to ask, when we have questions about the veracity of the assertions.

Process matters, and in this case, there is little "process" distinction between Adam Schefter's rumor-peddling, which may or may not be true, and Michael Wilbon's rumor-peddling, which was a pure lie.


December 27th, 2010 at 1:18 AM ^

There are no hard and fast rules for granting anonymity... generally, if the source doesn't want to be identified they aren't. Telling people "NO, I WON'T TAKE YOUR INFO IF YOU WON'T GET ON RECORD" is a shitty decision if you want to advance your career.

And how do you know that the guy who informed Schefter of this wouldn't lose his job for leaking it to an ESPN reporter? If we've been negotiating with Harbaugh behind the scenes all along, it would be a major hassle if that came out.

Section 1

December 27th, 2010 at 1:02 PM ^

I posted just above yours, before more people like you decided to harass me over my understanding of the general uses of anonymous sources.  When I started getting gang-negged, I posted the New York Times Staff Guidelines on the use of anonymous sources as an exemplar statement of rules on how real journalists might properly use anonymous sources.

I was pretty much exactly right.  And you were pretty much comprehensively wrong.

What I suggest, is that you print the Times' guidelines, on heavy bond paper.  Read them.  Then roll the paper up in a tight cylinder.  And shove it up your ass. 

Slippery Rock …

December 27th, 2010 at 1:30 PM ^

Easy, killer.  If you really think the quaint little rules govern whether or not a source is given anonimity, then you have your head where you told Brodie to shove it.  Any "real journalist" will refuse to report the name of a source if it is best for his career.  It is as simple as that.  You're telling someone to shove it up their ass based on the New York Times staff guidelines? That has to be a joke.  That is the equivalent of basing an opinion solely on a Dantonio press conference.  In both cases, they will only follow through if it benefits themselves at the time.  Your whole rant is based on nothing.

Section 1

December 27th, 2010 at 1:47 PM ^

The Times' guidelines just happen to be one of the more complete, exacting and comprehensive statements of what the rules are.  I posted them, as I say, as an exemplar.  The Free Press has its own version.  (Violated, of course, by Rosenberg, Snyder, Editor Gene Myers and Publisher Paul Anger.)  The Washington Post has a version.  Even ESPN purports to have some guidelines.  Witness the comments of Don Ohlmeyer linked, by me, elsewhere in this thread.

If all that it takes is a source saying, "I don't want to be named," then journalism as we know it is dead.  No serious news organization governs itself that way.

Now, in sports, because it is quasi-enterainment, and a kind of gossip sector for the male gender, many of the real rules are ignored.  I get that part.  It is becoming less and less customary for sportstalk guys to follow real journalism rules.  Don Ohlmeyer is apparently quite uncomfortable with that.  But Don Ohlmeyer is unusual.  He's from a serious reporting and production background.  Most sportstalk guys care about nothing so much as good ratings and some saucy talk for the next segment of whatever show they are doing.  I get it.  I just don't respect it.  I certainly don't like it.  I don't know why anybody would. 

Slippery Rock …

December 27th, 2010 at 1:51 PM ^

No, you are wrong.  There is a reason they are called "guidelines" and not "Laws" or "rules".  If you think for a second that any newspaper or journalist on the planet will sit on a huge story because their legitimate sources wish to remain anonymous, you are kidding yourself.  I'm sure you are correct that ESPN has some facade of "journalism guidelines", but they arent worth the toilet paper it took to wipe them up.

Section 1

December 27th, 2010 at 2:10 PM ^

That ESPN has only a "facade" of "journalism guidelines."  Screw the rules.  Got a source with some hot "news"?  Run with it!  Ratings, baby!  To hell with those ethical prudes who might think that there might just be some problems with anonymous sources. 

Melaine Collins still has her job, after Tweeting that anonymous sources indicated that Tate Forcier would be transferring.  Ditto Katrina Hancock.  Lynn Henning's Monday press conference to announce the firing of Rich Rodriguez never happened, but so what?  Lynn Henning still has an office at the News.  He'll probably get some kind of award next year, or the year after.  People forget.

This is sports, baby!  Yesterday's news is colder, and stinkier, than yesteday's fish.  We've got air-time to fill!

Slippery Rock …

December 27th, 2010 at 2:18 PM ^

Well, if you are declaring a jihad on the decaying respectability of journalism, then I can at least understand where you are coming from.  I still don't agree that there are hardfast rules to decide when an anonymous source is acceptable, but if your trying to take down the journalists that are never held to their word, then your ideas are intriguing and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Section 1

December 27th, 2010 at 2:42 PM ^

Do you mind one little story?  I'll do my own "anonymous sourcing."

I was talking, last month, with a former President of the M Letterwinners Club.  A Bo-era football player, drafted into the NFL, where he played only briefly.  And very, very close to the last coaching search, per the direction of Bill Martin.  He had met Rich Rodriguez on only a couple of occasions.  He did not know him well.  Rodriguez, he said, seemed like a perfectly okay guy.  He knew of no skeletons in the Rodriguez closet.  Nothing that would disqualify him as a coach.  There had been a few Rodriguez stories in the course of the coaching search; and none of them were true as far as he knew.

He said something totally normal and perfectly understandable; that a couple of losing seasons at Michigan, with a change in coaching staffs and some holes at key positions, was difficult for the M Letterwinners but not the worst thing in his mind.  What he hated above all, was the notion of Michigan's getting dragged through the mud of allegations about NCAA violations and "cheating."

So we talked, for several hours.  I laid out what I thought had been wrong and deeply flawed in the Free Press reporting, and how it led to the NCAA investigation, and what a careful reading of the Notice of Allegations and the University and Rodriguez Responses showed.  We talked about Justin Boren's departure, and Ryan Mallett's departure.  He was somewhat amazed.  He was going to re-think all of his attitudes about the situation with Rodriguez.

Section 1

December 27th, 2010 at 3:19 PM ^

Points; several of them:

  • The Free Press was devastatingly effective, in provoking an NCAA investigation.  That investigation hit Michigan where it hurt most; our respectability.
  • The Free Press also was effective in personalizing the attack on Rich Rodriguez.
  • The aftermath of the investigation, which proved little of what the Free Press alleged, and most of what the Athletic Department (not Rodriguez) copped to in much the same form as how OSU has reported one of its 200-300 self-reported secondary violations.
  • The Free Press, as well as the other media outlets, in their focus on Rodriguez, have really missed out on some other relevant stories; like the Boren family story, etc., etc.
  • It really is possible to change minds if you are clear, and persistent, and have your facts in order.  The truth doesn't always win in the end, but with a little help, it usually wins.


December 27th, 2010 at 3:23 PM ^

And I agree with all of that. Somehow I misread the comment preceding yours, and by association the exchange you had above. Move along, nothing to see here...

FWIW, I think in this regard you're fighting the good fight, even if it annoys some posters here.

For some reason I thought your comment was tangent to the Harbaugh discussion.

Slippery Rock …

December 27th, 2010 at 3:32 PM ^

I think we all can agree with all of that, too.  I think people on this thread were all arguing different points, which led to them all falling on deaf ears.  We are all on the same side, especially when it comes to baseless anti-UM bashing.  That being said, I still think Schefter's anonymous source is worth an mgoboard post. 


December 27th, 2010 at 3:47 PM ^

I like Schefter and Section 1.  I think Adam makes alot of good comments but I can understand where Section 1 is coming from.  It's tough for Section 1.  It's always harder to continue the good fight of informing people.  I was one of them, and I try to spread the news to as many grads and CF fans as I can on RR.  It takes alot of effort and I am sure the bashing bothers many if not all, but most will move on.  I give Section 1 a lot of credit.

Also, I wanted to see how skinny my response would be.

Section 1

December 27th, 2010 at 4:09 PM ^

...there is an understandable (here, at least) prejudice in favor of Adam Schefter.  He's a Michigan guy, who proudly displays his Michigan association.  He's been a big success in his profession.  Don Ohlmeyer thinks highly of him.

He's done nothing outlandish.  He's demonstrated none of the determined animus that, say, the Freep guys have.

So let's give credit where credit is due.  The argument here is much more academic than it is about Adam Schefter.  The sore point -- the open wound, if you will -- is that the misuse of anonymous sourcing was so central to what Rosenberg and Snyder did, that led directly to the NCAA investigation. 


December 29th, 2010 at 1:19 PM ^

This is sort of half-right, but it's far more situational at most publications than it is cut-and-dried, and certainly very different on the sports side of the house than on the hard news side. Typically, it begins with a request for anonymity by the source or an offer of anonymity in exchange for information by a reporter. The NYT and the WaPo have both tried to make the ground rules for granting anonymity more robust, but we're talking about, essentially, entertainment here, so interpreting use of anon sources as something governed by codes approachign the status of law would be waaaaaay off base.

Ultimately, the onus rests on the reader to determine how much credibility to grant the messenger/reporter and his use of anonymous sources. Schefter has built a reputation for being well-connected, at any rate.


December 27th, 2010 at 1:48 PM ^

are you saying that news reports have been false before?  No way.  So, all reports are false?  Wait, no, all reports not naming sources are false?  Wait, all reports that do not name sources but adhere to the NYT staff guidelines ARE true but those not adhering to the NYT staff guidelines are false? 

Man, journalism these days, I need a crib sheet just to know what is true or not.  Or I could take it all at face value and see how things play out. 


December 26th, 2010 at 12:43 PM ^

Hate comments like this when its a guy like Schefter reporting. We get it- DB is the ultimate source. However, AS is a Mich grad and breaks seemingly EVERYTHING for ESPN. This is not, "Miles to Michigan". But keep beating your dead horse.


December 26th, 2010 at 12:51 PM ^

and i hate comments like this when, what about JH's brother who says he thinks JH/his brother, will stay at stanford.Theres just too much uncertainty about this. Maybe Schefter's right but you can't believe anyone at this point because everyones sources are different out comes. We wont know until only the man who knows all speaks..

Section 1

December 26th, 2010 at 1:36 PM ^

If a prominent expert, a person of authority and influence, went ON THE RECORD and said something.

But Adam Schefter is your "prominent expert"?  Huh?  How did he get to be an "expert"?  He's apparently referring to people who refuse to be named.  They don't sound much like real experts to me.

Vacuous Truth

December 26th, 2010 at 2:13 PM ^

i don't think there's any doubt Schefter could be considered a prominent football expert. maybe not an expert on michigan football's current coaching conundrum, but who is? (DB, i know, and he's not talking)

Schefter did go on the record saying he has "heard" JH is headed to AA. That's all. No one, not Schefter, not Laveranues, not me, is saying it's a done deal or even close to it. No one is sure. 

All I'm saying is if Adam Schefter says on ESPN that he hears JH is headed to AA, it is WORTH POSTING. not worth believing as gospel, nor even worth taking as a crucial bit of info, but it is WORTH POSTING and i don't blame Mr. Laveraneus for doing so

Section 1

December 26th, 2010 at 2:25 PM ^

To use a prominent platform in the blogosphere to challenge the reporting.  To ask, in a community of particularly well-informed followers of Michigan football, whether the reporting is valid. 

And what IS the reporting?  That Adam Schefter, whoever he is, heard something?  If he's a reporter, he is supposed to ask.  And then he is supposed to report what the answer is, and who gave the answer.  Along with some background on whoever was doing the talking, so that we can appraise it for ourselves.

This is supposed to be journalism, not the junior prom.


December 27th, 2010 at 1:21 PM ^

You're getting a little idealistic, aren't you?  Clearly ESPN does not uphold the same journalistic integrity as the New Yourk Times, but the New York Times has printed a lot of BS over the years, too.  My personal opinion is that if the report was Raback Obama citing unnamed sources telling you Demar Dorsey had chosen UofM, or someone else reporting RR had signed a contract extension, you would not be nearly as upset about the lack of journalistic integrity.


December 26th, 2010 at 1:30 PM ^

uhmm no, stop getting your panties all caught up in a bunch. i said DB is the ultamate guy. with JH's brother, being his BROTHER, i think it pretty much counters Adam Shefter's stance, since you know he's in no way JH's relative, although a good hire for espn.. Im just saying, who really knows whats going on, theres so many of these "sources" that say every which way the head coaching position could possibly go, that you can't get all caught up in it all and just have to wait and ride it out and see what the man says who actually knows whats going on, DB. 


December 26th, 2010 at 5:42 PM ^

I have no idea what he’s going to do," John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, told "We do talk about it all the time. He’s having a baby ... in four or five days, and they’ve got the bowl game, so he’s just swimming right now. So he’s not even thinking about it right now.


"I think he wants to stay at Stanford, I think he’d love to stay there, but then again, you just have to see what happens. He’s not the kind of guy that’s going to make any kind of commitment until he’s ready to make a commitment. I think his commitment right now is having a baby and winningthe Orange Bowl. So we’ll see what happens.”

I certainly don't think John Harbaugh's words suggest anything one way or the other.  

EDIT: my apologies- didn't read the posts below that have already made this point.



December 26th, 2010 at 1:30 PM ^

I could be wrong here,  but I recall reading a quote from NFL Harbaugh saying he didn't know what College Harbaugh was gonig to do.  So...yeah.  He doesn't know what Jim is gonig to do, and there's probably a reason why Jimmy hasn't inked his extension with Stanford.