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The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bill Simmons Twitter fiasco a lesson in humility

Say what you will about the tweet/DM by Bill Simmons which accidentally leaked the news of the Randy Moss to Minnesota trade, although this is just another example of new media goofs, what is best to take away from this is the manner in which Simmons handled the event.
After tweeting "Moss Vikings?" when he meant to direct message a colleague at ESPN, Simmons, who was taping an episode of "E: 60," ESPN's investigate series, at the time, immediately owned up to the mistake.
First, in a panic, he deleted the message. He followed that up with a couple tweets to clarify what he'd said, because the nearly 1.3 million followers of his @SportsGuy33 account on Twitter would surely notice the gaffe. He lost a scoop because of it, but he handled the best way possible in his position. (He has since written, at great length, an explanation of the events surrounding the tweet).
Perhaps his admission had to do with the fact he's followed by so many people, myself included, but I'd like to think his integrity led him to own up.
This is going to happen in some fashion from time to time because the demand for immediacy creates a fierce pace to dole out news. Consistently one-upping the competition has gone to the millisecond. Now, Simmons' error might not directly apply to this scenario, but he was using new media on the job, something that's commonplace these days, and he didn't double-check his work. I understand the circumstances surrounding his mistake, and he picked up the pieces the best he could and it's another chance for us to learn.
This is much bigger than the average beat writer or TV sportscaster misspelling players' names on Twitter, which I see on an all-too-frequent basis, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not the end of the world. And he still broke one of the biggest stories of the season thus far. It can't be that bad of a mistake, right?
I've seen social media humble some long-time writers, and Simmons is taking his own healthy dose of medicine right now. Hopefully, it cures us all.


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