ESPN’s Ed Werder has reported for more than 20 years, most of it spent covering the Dallas Cowboys. He’s been inside the locker room, has had deep conversations with former players and he knows members of the Cowboys management.
But that didn’t help him one bit in his recent reporting of the alleged drama in the Dallas Cowboys locker room this past week, and his weak responses to the criticism just show he’s still just an amateur.
Many Cowboys fans, the intelligent ones, saw through the slimy reporting of not only ESPN, but the other two metro newspapers in Dallas. Terrell Owens has always been a source of news for the media, and they hound his every move waiting for that next big “scoop.”
But let me teach you a little bit about the trade of journalism. For those of you who do not know, in my real job, I am a journalist. I’ve been doing it for 10 years. I enjoy what I do.
There’s a golden rule in journalism when writing articles that have “confidential sources.” The first one is you never write a story based on what one person says. Why? Because it is one person and that one person usually has an ax to grind. A journalist’s job is to dig deeper and try to get the information confirmed by more than one source. Where I work now, the rule is three sources or no story. I ran into this problem recently when writing a story about a guy who was getting fired. I knew it was going to happen. I overheard private conversations, one source told me, and I was ready to break the story. But my editor said I needed three confirmed sources before it made it to print. I was angry. However, it made sense. A week later, I surprised myself. I got four sources to confirm it if I did not disclose their identity. I wrote the story and it ran four days before the guy resigned.
So, ESPN apparently has a much lesser standard. Ed Werder had ONE source. One guy, apparently on the team, who called him and fed him information. Werder could not get the information confirmed, but he went with his report anyway.
Last night on ESPN, and even after Sunday’s win against the New York Giants, Terrell Owens blasted the longtime reporter. Owens said he never said that he was jealous of Tony Romo and Jason Witten, and that he never said the two were concocting plays that did not include him. Owens said he and two other receivers did meet with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett after a disappointing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers to move forward and determine how they could improve a sputtering offense. Sounds like a smart meeting to have.
Owens said Werder never confirmed his details and what he reported was not factual.
Most of us would agree that the alleged drama in the Cowboys locker room had little effect on the game. Owens didn’t make a huge impact on the outcome, Witten did, and Romo played well in the victory. And the three guys appeared happy together after the game, didn’t they?
What we don’t get from Werder and ESPN is an explanation; we get excuses. Werder says he is shocked with the criticism.
Actually, were shocked, Ed. We’re shocked. But we are not surprised.