Sports journalists can’t question any athlete in any challenging way because their jobs are based on popularity.
It used to be, back in the day, that journalists were backed by newspapers.
Today, sports writers’ credibility is based on their social media followings. Those followings can be bolstered or destroyed by one right or wrong opinion, question or report.
Media types have to be cool with players to even do their job; this didn’t used to be a requirement. Players could hate you back in the newspaper days and it didn’t matter; you were a good journalist who was backed and paid by the newspaper you worked for.
Now, a player who doesn’t like what you said or posted can blast you publicly, make you look bad, refuse to talk to you, dog-whistle their fans to attack you, and otherwise (try to) hamper your career. The athlete is not the only possible culprit: many media people, wary of an oncoming “fan attack” as a response to being too critical of the wrong player, fear and thus avoid asking the tough questions.
As a result, nothing gets questioned critically. Empty talking points get pushed out, and sheep consumers accept what they see as truth (and never wonder about what they don’t see) — no one is questioning the “facts” after all, right? If there was something wrong, someone would say something!
People do say stuff, it doesn’t get amplified. Only the messages that go along with the program get amplified.
This isn’t limited to sports; that’s only the example I’ve used here. It’s in all forms of media.
This is the exact opposite of what journalism and the media exist for. Their job is to keep institutions — government, corporations — in check by fact-checking their claims and holding them accountable for their (in)actions.
Nowadays, it’s just a race to be popular.
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