If you’ve ever been unclear about what separates a journalist from a media member, then you were able to get a free master class on the subject via Twitter this past week due to Shannon Sharpe’s shenanigans on FS1's Undisputed.
After a back-and-forth with co-host Skip Bayless – an actual former journalist – about where Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones could eventually wind up, as Jones approached the Falcons about a trade back in March, Sharpe shocked Bayless and host Jenny Taft when he pulled out his phone to call Jones live on the air.
In case you missed it, watch this:
“I’m outta there, man,” said Jones about his time with the Falcons.
“Can you remind him we’re on television right now,” said Taft.
“Julio, I’ll talk to you later. Thanks for calling me back. We’re on the air. But, I appreciate you calling me dawg. You know, I know, my nephew was going to pick up,” said Sharpe before he hung up.
“Shannon, you continue that conversation off the air and keep us in the loop,” Taft said to close the segment.
A lighthearted moment or not, these are the types of things that lead to people, and athletes, being wary of “the media.” And if you were on Twitter on Monday you probably saw a ton of tweets from journalists asking, “Did Julio know he was live on the air?” Well, that’s because that’s Journalism 101 – letting the person you’re talking to know that they’re being recorded or that this is live. Sharpe – a media member, not a journalist – only brought it up after the fact.
“From what I know, from people I know in the NFL, he had no idea he was on the air yesterday,” said Chris Simms on Tuesday’s episode of NBC Sports Pro Football Talk. “I found that out from somebody in the know here. Yes, he and his agent were very disappointed after.” The situation was so bizarre that the Falcons reported on the situation on their website.
For some, this was an off-the-cuff private conversation that went public and will be patched up by next week. And that may be true as Sharpe and Jones could let bygones-be-bygones sooner than later. Or, maybe not.
There’s a pattern here with Sharpe and it’s not a good look. Last month, Sharpe had a back-and-forth with Kevin Durant on Twitter all because he didn’t fact check – something media members often do – his information when he discussed a comment that he thought Durant said, which was totally made up.
“Shannon went on tv responding to this quote like I actually said this. Gullible fans will believe it, or say ‘you was thinking this anyway’ it’s comedy at this point,” Durant tweeted.
The two went back-and-forth for a while, as Sharpe eventually blocked Durant on the app. “KD, IF* you wanna talk to me. I’m not hard to find, but I’m not going back and forth on social media. Whatever our differences are. They can be handled out of the eye of social media,” Sharpe eventually tweeted, as he went out like a “sucka’’ trying to make something he made public into a private affair only after he got exposed.
Over the past few years, you’ve seen athletes from every sport start podcasts as a way for them to have conversations with their peers and set the record straight. This all started when The Players’ Tribune was launched in 2014. Take a look at what Derek Jeter — the site’s founder – said about the concept in a 2015 interview with TechCrunch.
“The media is a big part of every athlete’s career. That won’t change, but if we can be a destination where athletes are comfortable and candid, I personally think it will end up helping them deal more openly with traditional media,” Jeter explained. “It will also empower athletes to set the record straight when they feel the need. We are a complement to the media, not a replacement.”
The combination of the blog era, which let anyone with a computer be considered a media member, and a former President that encouraged millions to label factual information they didn’t agree with or like as “Fake News,” led to most people thinking that the media is one big family when it’s not.
Let me make it simple for you. Journalists live by a different set of rules and are a part of the media, but that doesn’t mean all media members are journalists. And what we saw on Monday morning and last month was somebody thinking that they were one thing, when they’ve been bad at both. So the next time you listen to a podcast and athletes are telling stories and giving insight on things they would never tell the journalists that cover them daily, it’s because people like Shannon Sharpe have f*cked the game up.