On sports reporting, and the Titans’ draft philosophy

Sometimes I question what I write on TitansTracker, especially when I’m critical of other writers.

However, as much as I’d like to maintain a positive tone, it’s hard to ignore what I believe to be misrepresentations or misinterpretations of facts by journalists and other bloggers.

I do not claim to be objective. As an example, I have defended Vince Young to a fault, primarily because we both attended the University of Texas at Austin, and he did some great things as the Longhorns’ quarterback.

But it is widely believed that mainstream journalists are firmly committed to objectivity and reporting stories free of bias.

This is not the case, and, realistically, it’s an impossible goal. Journalistic fairness is attainable to a degree, but objectivity? Impossible. This is why I’ve passionately criticized other journalists and bloggers, although I’m not always comfortable doing so.

Which leads to this. In this article by the Tennessean’s Gary Estwick, he asserts that the Titans’ have a draft philosophy: choose the best player available. Estwick supports his assertion by quoting Titans GM Mike Reinfeldt:

“If you have a chance to get a player that’s special … it’s more important to get a difference maker on your team than to get depth at a position.”

Of course, I did not conduct the interview, but I would not interpret this and the other statements by Reinfeldt as a firm commitment by the Titans to always choose the best player available.

In fact, I would argue the last three first-round draft choices by the Titans — Chris Johnson, Michael Griffin and Vince Young —  were all based on a team-perceived need.

Johnson was a player I identified early in 2008 as a much-needed playmaker. The Titans’ lack of offensive explosiveness was made evident in its two 2007 season losses to the San Diego Chargers, a team which had three offensive playmakers: LaDainian Tomlinson (still explosive at the time), Antonio Gates and Chris Chambers.

Griffin was chosen to play cornerback after Tennessee gave up on Adam “Pacman” Jones, and Vince Young was selected to be the Titans’ franchise quarterback after the not-so-gracious dismissal of Steve McNair.

What bothers me about the Tennessean’s reporting is its lack of depth. I understand why sports reporters may want to take an obvious angle and stick with it, instead of writing a more in-depth analysis. Reporter are under deadline pressure, and editors may not want reporters to spend too much time writing stories. Also, reporters who challenge the status quo or ask tough questions of a team’s coaches and management may wear out their welcome with the franchise or with their employer (BTW, I’m not defending Rob Parker’s line of questioning to former Lions coach Rod Marinelli. Also, the situation at the Tennessean is not unique. For example, writers at the Austin American-Statesman are often criticized for always being soft on the Texas Longhorn football establishment.)

What disturbs me more is that certain Titans bloggers (whom I will not identify) regularly regurgitate what Tennesseean reporters and other news outlets say about the team and its players without question, and take what is said about the Titans at face value.

My point today is this: I am an engaged, and sometimes skeptical, reader of newspapers and blogs. I hope my writing reflects this. My agenda is obvious: support the Titans, write thoughtful commentary, support Coach Fisher (whom I trust a great deal), and support Vince Young.

The agendas of sports reporters is not always clear, but rest assured that all reporters have agendas.

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