By MATIAS WODNER
Sportwriter and NFL reporter for CBS Sports Jason La Canfora brought up a very interesting point with a tweet he sent out last night after the Thursday night’s game between Indianapolis and Tennessee.
Sleep well at night without conflicts of interest. Many of you would be surprised by # of reporters who share agents w/players and coaches.
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) November 15, 2013
I had never really even thought of the idea that reporters and players and coaches might share the same agents. In fact, I never even thought about the fact that reporters do have agents. It may not seem like a big deal to many, but it brings up a huge question in terms of conflict of interest.
Conflict of interest is one of the main points in any discussion of professional ethics in journalism. It’s essential for journalists to be out of the story (depending on the type of story, mostly that is the case). Journalists are taught to avoid conflicts, whether real or perceived. And when there is unavoidable conflict, they need to disclose it.
Reporters sharing agents with players and coaches nearly discredits any story that that reporter writes about the player or coach whom he shares that agent with. As unbiased as the story may be, it doesn’t matter.
This is a rather interesting topic of discussion to me because of my prior writing experience. I used to write for a community website about the Tennessee Titans. My job was to write articles about the team, whether objective or subjective, positive or negative, anything I could come up with. During the time that I worked, there was no real conflict because of the state of the website. It wasn’t exactly professional because we weren’t getting paid to do it. It was merely my thoughts written in type, with one editor making tweaks.
That “job” didn’t necessarily prepare for me for the conflicts that I may face if I pursue a career in journalism. I do now understand that there are situations where those conflicts are unavoidable. But when they are avoidable, it is important for me to eliminate myself from the equation in the fairest way possible.