The spot-fixing allegations have unleashed a full-blown media spectacle, which means editors around the world are trying to “advance the story” every day. It’s an odd feature about journalism, based on the mistaken premise that readers and news consumers only want to talk about one major item per allotted time period, even if there aren’t any new developments attached to it.
So, we had some great journalism from News Of The World that broke the Pakistan story. Audio tapes, no-ball footage, sting operation stuff — all excellent. Then, we heard relatively little: the police aren’t entitled to say anything; the Pakistanis are sticking to a “denial isn’t just a river in Egypt” strategy, and no one has admitted flat out to doing anything wrong.
What’s an editor at, say, The Australian supposed to do? Well, there are plenty of angles — what does this scandal mean for the ICC anti-corruption unit? If it happened in England with Pakistan, did it happen with other teams? Have other players been approached? (Turns out almost everybody has, including hapless Bangladeshi players.) OK, but what else? How about an absolutely ludicrous, anonymously-sourced, shoddy excuse for journalism? Begin excerpt:
Two IPL officials from India independently verified that a leading batsman had played so suspiciously that they could not explain his behaviour.
When The Australian asked direct questions about the batsman both officials agreed that his performances were highly suspect. They did not want him named for fear that it could be traced back to them and lead to retribution in India.
What’s wrong with this paragraph? A few things: first, we don’t know who’s giving the paper this information. We don’t know their agendas (anti-IPL? anti-BCCI? anti-Indian batsmen?) so we can’t evaluate their evidence. Which brings us to point 2: there isn’t any evidence, and point 3: we don’t even know which batsman they’re talking about. This is the opposite of responsible journalism; instead of informing and providing the truth, we have innuendo and alarmist rumor-mongering. Spike this story.