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Stop Spreading Urban Legends

Nov 18, 2011 -- 1:36pm

By Bruce Hooley

I hate what journalism has become, or what people label as journalism today.

As rampant rumors circulate about Urban Meyer’s hiring at Ohio State, the sorry state of what passes for journalism is about to deteriorate even more.

A message-board post on an Ohio State fan site last night drew attention as a concrete report of Meyer’s hiring.

That set off a speculative chain reaction, because everyone wants bragging rights for having the story first.

Laughably, a fan blog site has since “reported” it is “99.7 percent” certain Meyer will be named the next coach at Ohio State.

These are people who won’t even put their real names on their sketchy opinion pieces that purport not to report anything other than their own parochial rants about the Buckeyes. Yet, if Meyer is ultimately introduced at OSU, they’ll shout from the highest mountain, “We had it first….Told you so…blah, blah, blah.”

Bulletin to bloggers: real reporting requires 100% certainty, with no wiggle room. If you’re 99.7% sure, that’s not sure enough.

We’re all 99.something percent certain Meyer will be OSU’s next coach. He’s the only slam-dunk choice to succeed Luke Fickell.

What I know from talking to sources dead on the money about Jim Tressel’s resignation in advance is that no formal agreement exists between Meyer and OSU yet.

Are they close? Some sources say yes, and some say there are still sticking points.

It would be easy to report what one insider says and couch it with, “:there is an agreement in principle, but these are sensitive negotiations that still could break down.” That’s the blogger’s way, not the journalist’s way.

The trouble is, it takes only the talent to master Twitter or Word Press to “report” what we all know is likely to happen.

For me, the reward of guessing right isn’t worth the risk of being wrong.

But then, if you don’t put your name to anything, there’s no consequence for being an anonymous fool.

Email Bruce at hoolz@espncleveland.com

Follow Bruce on Twitter @bhoolz

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