Thursday, October 10, 2013

Joe Thornton's cock



There was a time - perhaps as recently as five years ago - when I would have fallen off my chair after reading Joe Thornton's quote on how he would celebrate were he to ever duplicate San Jose teammate Tomas Hertl's four goal game.  It wouldn't have surprised me that Thornton said it.  The shock would have been that something of that nature was actually reported.

There's long been an unspoken understanding between athletes and sports journalists about what is and isn't on the record.  Historically, profane dressing room banter from a player who's not the one being scrummed by a group of reporters would never see the light of day in a mainstream media publication or broadcast.  But the lines between traditional and "new" media are becoming increasingly blurred, as newspaper writers and sports broadcasters jostle for press box and clubhouse elbow room with officially accredited internet content providers.  The comparative absence of regulation allows internet media to go places traditional media won't or can't go, and when social media picks up the scent, a relatively innocuous quote or incident quickly goes viral and becomes a cause celebre.

Ironically, it was a traditional media journalist who first put the Thornton quote out there, although Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province reported it on his blog, lest Uncle Basil or Aunt Effie suffer a coronary reading about Joe Thornton's masturbatory ambitions in the morning paper.  Botchford later defended himself on Twitter, saying Thornton made the comment to a group of 20 reporters, so if he (Botchford ) didn't report it, he'd be called onto the carpet by his editor. 

Few of Botchford's peers have waded into the debate on an ethical level, although one of the deans of Canadian sports journalism, Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun and National Post, says a line was crossed.  That might have been true a few years ago and there's nothing wrong with old school journalistic ethics, but in the Internet age, they no longer apply.  Botchford recognized that and made a judgement call, and by 21st century media standards, he got it right.

3 comments:

  1. After reading the circumstances of the report, it doesn't seem so wrong after all. Wasn't like he snooped in on Thornton whispering that comment to a teammate. He said it out loud for all the reporters to hear and probably wanted it reported. It is kinda funny. It's funny and is the kind of rant you'd hear in a locker room full of players chatting after a game. I guess that's why he's getting blasted about it. Normally that kind of talk stays in the dressing room.

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  2. This is a great article about a very funny situation. My question is, if we must assume that with new media everything is always on the record, then athletes will be trained to say even less than they do now, so what will be the point of an interview? What I liked most about this quote wasn't that Thornton stood up for a kid who had an incredible night but that the sound bite itself came from an honest and emotional place. Finally, I say.

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  3. Bullocks. Why didn't the other 19 reporters report it then? Its called " off the record". A professional reporter should understand that concept by now and respect it. This reporter is the equivalent of a Paparazzi...

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