News of the Tweet: The Speed Of Our Integrity’s Demise

Leaks, Loose Lips, Sunken Ships

By Seb Kemp

Well, the big news is that Sam Hill has left Specialized and moved to…oh wait, I've just being informed that this is old news. Which is strange because I'm sure the press release put out by Team CRC team manager Nigel Page (Sam Hill's new boss) on 23rd December, 2012, said that the announcement was embargoed until 12am (GMT) Tuesday 1st January, 2013.

So why was it that announced it on December 23rd?

It wasn't leaked – that's @teamrumours job– the announcement was thrashed out there. This excited the public but for those that have a vested (perhaps financial) interest in this move and the nuances of doing it right (new sponsors, old sponsors, existing sponsors), as well as the competing media outlets who did wait patiently, this naughty bit of reporting really rubbed people the wrong way.

Now, to Pinkbike's defense, they weren't first to drop the bomb. Some German website obviously put "** EMBARGOED UNTIL 12AM (GMT) TUESDAY 1ST JANUARY 2013 **" through Google Translate and got back, "Go ahead Fritz, do as you wish."

Team CRC's decision to distribute the press release that far ahead of the official announcement could be considered a bit of a poor move. But if you do think it was a poor move then you are probably not thinking this through. In order to not lose quality, the media need longer lead ups to announcements. They need prior information so that they can go out and forge a story beyond the press release, basically doing their job of reporting the story and not regurgitating press releases. However, with ze damn Germans and Pinkbike leaking like this it could really damage the faith that teams, companies and riders have in the media. Thanks to the impatience of a few, the reading public could lose out in the long run.

It is shoddy journalism on behalf of all of the loose-lipped gasbags.

In the above link, The New York Times writer Margaret Sullivan talks about how some of the best news organizations are being caught out by the immediacy of Twitter and other social media communication platforms. Information is spread so fast now, but what is the cost of this hyperspeeding? It seems that accuracy and legitimacy are the first casualties.

After the Newtown, Conn. shooting recently, even The New York Times blundered, opting to use information it gained through Twitter (or other news sources) before properly fact checking, just because now the competition isn't about who has the full story, but who has the story – any story, whether accurate or not – first.

On the first day the news of shooting broke The New York Times had reported the gunman as Ryan Lanza, attributing that information to other news organizations. It turned out that this was false. The gunman was his brother, Adam Lanza. Then the day following the shooting, on the front page of the newspaper, The Times made several other errors. How does this happen? Well, according to Margaret Sullivan, processes and practices that are put into place by news organizations can "fall apart quickly in the scramble to chase a major breaking news story."

The Times has since made amendments to its processes and tightened it's belt a little to ensure errors like this are not made again because, as Margaret Sullivan concludes, "The Times can't get pulled into the maelstrom of Twitter-era news. It has to stand apart from those news sources that are getting information out in a fast, piecemeal and frequently inaccurate way. That process has its own appeal and its own valuable purpose. But The Times should be its authoritative and accurate counterbalance."

We have to get used to the fact that Twitter and other social media platforms will form powerful means for information transfer, but we have to make sure that we aren't losing anything in the process.

The very last print issue of Newsweek is on newsstands right now and has an extremely telling and powerful cover.

But going back to our world, yes, we are just talking about toy bikes, but we shouldn't be immune from doing things right. If we can't do things right – factual, verifiable, and transparent – when it doesn't matter, then how are we going to care when it does? Teach a child that it's OK to cheat when you are just playing ball in the backyard and it teaches them it is alright to cheat anywhere, anytime.

Oh, and finally, while on the subject of cheaters and liars, The UCI's questionable deal with imaginary media powerhouse Rocky Roads might finally have been caught out.