Issues in Sports Media: The Boston Herald Apologizes for Spygate Coverage

A panel at the Sports Lawyers Association discussed recent issues in sports media.  One of the more interesting questions that arose was whether a journalist should give up their source once it is discovered that the source provided false information.  The panel essentially concluded that such a decision is left to the individual reporter.  However, most reporters would not give up their source in such a situation. 

Spygate presents a perfect example.  John Tomase, the Boston Herald reporter who wrote the false article about the Patriots’ videotaping of the Ram’s walk-through practice before Super Bowl XXXIV, has taken that position.  Tomase will not give up his source on the grounds that his other sources will no longer trust him.  (Although the real issue may be whether Tomase trusts his sources).  Nevertheless, Tomase and the Herald have been diligent in their attempt to diffuse the situation and avoid a lawsuit.

The Boston Herald issued an unprecedented front page apology to the Patriots

Tomasse has also written a full account of his reporting and where he went wrong.  (For an interesting take, see ESPN’s Hashmarks, which suggests that the Herald is going overboard.)

And the result of the Herald’s backtracking?  The Boston Globe reports that the Patriots are satisfied and feel vindicated by the apology.  Perhaps more importantly, legal action against the Herald is unlikely.


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