My favorite report ever on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” was a story by Jason Jones about the New York Times in which he asks executive editor Bill Keller about the “aged news” served up in the print edition of the paper each morning.
Albeit regarding a topic that is not funny in any way, reporting on the unfolding scandal at Baylor University reminded me of the underlying message of Jones’ parody.
A quick recap: In August 2015, Texas Monthly and Deadspin reported on a Baylor football player who had been indicted on two counts of sexual assault against a female Baylor student. The school hired a law firm to conduct an independent review of the university’s response. The report was ugly and it cost the jobs of both Baylor football coach Art Briles and the infamous Kenneth Starr of “Whitewater” fame who’d been serving as Baylor president and chancellor.
Early Tuesday, ESPN’s Joe Schad broke an exclusive conversation with a female former Baylor student who was not only assaulted by a past football player, but then exchanged text messages with an assistant coach about the details. What fascinated me, however, was how Schad broke the news and the detail with which he did it — all on his personal Facebook page.
Indeed, he did not break the report of some 530 words along with photographic evidence on ESPN Radio, ESPN television nor on ESPN.com — arguably the most consumed sports media platforms in their categories. Why? In a word: Speed. In today’s age of instant information and immediate gratification, regardless the topic and in spite of how horrendous the facts of the Baylor story might be, the words did not need to be written in the most eloquent syntax nor fine-tuned by a copy editor.
Schad’s Facebook post is below. Accurate storytelling told with great speed. Like it or not, that’s the premium — and aged news just won’t cut it in journalism today.