Bill Simmons and the Accidental DM

By Noah Davis 

Bill Simmons broke the Randy Moss to Minnesota story. He did it by accident. He promised to explain what happened. He did.

It’s a long column – what Simmons’ column isn’t? – full of anecdotes about appearing on E:60, some interesting information about ESPN’s policy about breaking news (“We have a rule at ESPN that all breaking news must be filtered through our news desk (not tweeted)”), the dangers of Twitter DMs, and difficulties being a reporter in the Internet age.

So yeah, there’s no official scoreboard for scoops. We just subconsciously keep score. As do editors. As do media companies. Some will do whatever it takes to pad their stats, whether it’s pimping every decision someone makes to get repaid with information later, playing the odds by reporting something they hope is true (and if it is, they look like a stud), spinning every angle against someone who once butted heads with a favored source, whatever. The best reporters maintain relationships, avoid agendas, craft good narratives, never stop cultivating new sources and — occasionally — break news simply because it’s an outcome of being good at their jobs. That’s what should matter. And that’s how they should be judged. I wish that were always the case.

But does anyone really care? I mean, it’s an interesting read if you’re in the media business – SImmons, for all his rhetoric about not being a sportswriter, has an acute sense of today’s landscape – but it’s hard to see the general population being interested.

Long story short: a writer screwed up with Twitter and broke a story that he wasn’t sure was true by accident. That’s it. Can we go back to talking about Brett Favre’s dong now?