Yesterday I joined Gerardo Gonzalez and Matt Sardo on the Charlie Bernstein Show to talk about a local radio interview (WDAE) with Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman and a story that surfaced Thursday on the Tampa Bay Times’ website.
In the article, Freeman says:
“It has nothing to do with…a contract year, finding out, oh, is he signed for this? What happened? I know God has got a plan for me, it’s all going to work out in the end. If I just give it the best I’ve got regardless…if I give it the best I’ve got and the Buccaneers say, “Ah, we don’t think he can play for us,’ at the end of the year and every other team in the NFL does and I end up wherever I end up doing whatever, I’ll be content because I’ll know I gave it the best I had.’
The headline reads: “Freeman says he will be ‘content’ if he has to move on.” Other outlets ran with similar ones, including, “Josh Freeman will be ‘content’ if he has to leave Bucs,” (NFL.com) and “Josh Freeman will be ‘content’ if he has to move on” (NBC Pro Football Talk).
The majority of headlines that followed Rick Stroud’s piece failed to capture the true essence of that quote, which is this — “I’ll be content leaving, knowing I gave it the best I had.” I went on a little Twitter rant about it:
I understand space is limited when it comes to writing news headlines. But we live in a ‘one-liner society’ where few people actually read beyond the large font and bold letters, and few actually click on the links accompanying tweets.
When that happens, and news is aggregated rapidly, the intent of a quote is sometimes lost, which I believe happened here.
Perhaps NFL.com agreed. The site later changed the headline to this – “Josh Freeman not worried about Buccaneers contract.”
While it’s not the responsibility of journalists to paint everyone in a favorable light, it is our responsibility to be truthful, and we should make every effort to ensure the meaning of a quote and its intent is in no way lost.
The end result of all this — Freeman is painted as ‘careless,’ as if he’s in some way, disinterested in the fate of his team. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’ve had enough conversations with the Buccaneers starting quarterback to know that.
You can listen to the audio from yesterday’s show here, which includes more insight on Freeman and some things to look forward to as training camp nears.
Jenna Laine on The Charlie Bernstein Show: June 21, 2013