The recent media storm surrounding Tiger Woods speaks volumes about Woods himself. Hidden in the midst of the craze, however, is the deteriorated state of journalism today.
Respected media outlets such as ESPN and The Associated Press were hard-pressed to find their own information on the story as it developed, standing idly by as tabloid outlets like TMZ.com, Us Weekly and the National Enquirer churned out wooly details of Woods' admitted "transgressions."
What's worse, ESPN and the AP, faced with a dearth of original reporting, included the "allegations" of such tabloids in their articles, lending credence to these sketchily-run, morally inept "news" organizations.
Indeed, it seemed as though any woman in the country who claimed to have slept with Woods was granted a licentious yellow brick road to stardom. Even a middle-aged Perkins waitress had her lewd, likely false story strewn across the world by the tabloids, and the respected news outlets did nothing to stop the bleeding.
By merely mentioning tabloid reports in their official write-ups, ESPN, the AP and countless other esteemed news organizations blurred the line between rumors and fact.
For example, New York nightclub waitress Rachel Uchitel was alleged to have had a romantic relationship with Woods, according to the National Enquirer. When contacted by the AP, however, Uchitel denied the allegations. Why, then, did the AP make a point of including the Uchitel storyline, replete with the Enquirer's allegations, in its reports? It only demonstrated that AP reporters wasted their time investigating spurious claims by bogus news outlets, in doing so, giving an undeserved sense of integrity to a sensationalist tabloid.
What's worse than the credibility indirectly assigned to the tabloids is the horrendous reporting job by the supposedly venerable news organizations. Papers throughout the country were forced to credit TMZ.com if they ran a photo of Woods' wrecked Cadillac, because scant other organizations were there to document the crash.
As the story continued to unravel, TMZ.com, RadarOnline.com, Us Weekly and the Enquirer repeatedly churned out breaking news - some that would be confirmed by later reports, and some that would be discredited. Regardless, it seemed as though the tabloids were sending the professional reporters on a wild goose chase for the actual facts.
If journalists at these certified outlets wish to retain the public's respect, they shouldn't waste their time chasing leads manufactured by shady tabloid media. The Lamron sincerely hopes that the recent trends were unfortunate lapses in judgment, ironically, like Woods' transgressions themselves.