I own it. Jim Caldwell was fired by the Colts, some 60 hours after I tweeted he would be retained. While I believe that information was correct until the 58th hour, I realize it's a moot point. The goal of any media member is to relay accurate information to a customer base that has granted a trust. In this case, on those terms, the goal was not met.
On Saturday afternoon I was given the news by a Colts inside source that I have always found reliable. The message was simple. Jim Caldwell, I was told, was returning. I sought other sources to confirm the story. Each flagpole in which I ran up the story returned with the same angle. It was then that I sent thewtweet. Jim Caldwell would be retained.
Twitter is in relative infancy as a "media" outlet, and, while a tweet is, by definition, the intellectual property of its messanger, when a media member uses the social site to distribute information, it becomes a bona fide media outlet. I knew that when I released the nugget I was given.
Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star sent a few tweets to plant a seed of doubt on, not only the report, but my credibility as well. I was, and am, fine with that. If I wasn't, I wouldn't have put the report, and myself, out there. Bob and I have always gotten along over the years. He has asked me things before, I have picked his brain more than that, and I beleive we have a mutual respect. So that was all fair game.
What is more murky, however, is where media rules apply outside the realm of traditional print and electronic media. Bob was adamant to me, and to his Twitter audience, that old guard newspaper rules of sourcing, fact finding, and naming sources apply with Twitter and Facebook as they do with newspapers and newscasts.
With the explosion of smart phones, blog sites, social media sites and the dot coms, the world has gotten a lot smaller and lot faster. With each new avenue, another old tradition fades away. We live in a minute by minute society. It's no longer a "film at 11" world, and the morning newspaper has become little more than a permanant archive to scrapbook the article that you'd read online the day before.
It's for this reasaon that different media members adhere to different principles. Do not get me wrong: We all want to get a tip, confirm it with a source, double check it, and be the first to report it. In addition, we want to be the first, not out of ego or pride (you may not believe it but most of us in the media circle are friends with one another) but, rather, because we want our listening, viewing and reading audience to trust as a place for news.
In the case of this story, a clear division of social media versus newspapers was presented. I tweetd my story, Bob tweeted his skepticism. Fair.
Things got more interesting when the Star's Mike Chappel wrote in a blog that he agreed with what I heard: Caldwell was staying. The Star, however, took Chap's opinion and sent a company tweet that read more as a report.
It was as if the newspaper realized it had missed the tidal shift to social media and tried to hop on the crest of a wave that was passsing. The tweet seemed to vindicate me, and it put Chap in a bad spot all at the same time. More interesting, it was clear that waiting for Chap's story to hit your drive in the morning wasn't good enough. Those days have gone by the wayside.
There have been some major stories this year where I have been right. I have chosen Twitter as a means to relay such news. Twitter is a great vehicle that allows for fluid conversation amongst a large group.
The advantage of Twitter, however can also be a weakness. The instantaneous nature of its delivery can immediately feed desire for information. Yet, that information can often change as fast as its distrubuted. Human nature causes us to strive to do things as quickly and authoritatively as possible. Media Members are no exception. .
In this case, I was the first to be wrong. I admit it. I wasn't the only. Other Colts beat writers wrote in blogs and on Twitter that Caldwell would be retained. One TV station reported that Caldwell had told his staff as much. ESPNnews reported the firing within an hour of Hall of Fame writer John Clayton reporting live on air that Caldwell would stay.
Jim Caldwell assisted Jim Irsay and Ryan Grigson in conducting an interview with potential Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Less than 24 hours later he was fired. Multiple sources inside the organization told multiple media outlets Caldwell was safe.
Things can change by the hour and we now have the ability to report those changes as they are happening.
Was Grigson executing a 'leak" test? Was Irsay simply sending out a test balloon, trying to gage the temperature of his fan base? Or did something go wrong for Jim Caldwell in the 11th hour?
We may never know those answers. What I do know is this. The Colts will hire a new coach soon. I don't know who it will be. A lot of media members will get the story right. A lot of media members will get the story wrong. All kinds of different rules and philosophies willl be enacted in the process. It's a fun job that allows me to be a part of the ride. I appreciate the trust that's granted with that, and look foward to telling you what I hear.