We all know about ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit's reporting gaffe on Saturday that said LSU head coach Les Miles was headed to Michigan as the next head coach of college football's winningest program. Miles held a press conference at the Georgia Dome before LSU's SEC title game on Saturday and angrily derided the report as false.
Herbstreit initially stuck to his report, and source, but later admitted his report wasn't accurate for the time it was released. Apparently, his information came from earlier in the week, not on Saturday morning.
Herby spoke with Detroit's WDFN-AM sports talk radio station and had some intriguing things to say about his report and how ESPN producers handled it.
On not being a breaking news guy
"I would much rather talk about what teams are doing on the field. One thing I can assure you, you will never see me gathering news and reporting information ever again."
On why he came out with the story
"Honestly, the best way to describe it is by the time Friday came around I had some information that trust me on this it was very accurate base on not a source but someone that was going to be involved in the situation. I made the mistake, I guess telling the ESPN bosses it and in doing that they are journalists and they said you’ve got an obligation to talk about that and go with it. You guys know, I as a former player really pride myself on my relationships with coaches and players and just not real comfortable in breaking stories, leave that up to Pat Forde and the others to do that stuff. When they talked about that and really thought it over and over because it was going to happen they didn’t want to get beat on the story and they suggested that I go with it."
To us, this sounds like Herbstreit shouldn't shoulder all of the blame. ESPN producers, it seems, pressed Herbstreit into breaking the news. Not in the name of accuracy, but in the name of being first. This, as we all know, especially in the blogosphere, is a criticism of the 24/7 news cycle of sensationalism we are often subjected to. We're not going to get into a deep lecture here, but cable news and the immediacy of the internet (yes, blogs included) have revolutionized how media reports. Often times, the line between accuracy and immediacy is skewed because of the 'me-first' ideology.
This is how credibility gets destroyed. And it's damn hard to repair.