While the notion of "we report, you decide" is an effective marketing slogan, indicating that only the essential facts are being relayed, things are never really that simple.
It's taken me a while to get used to the notion that news reporting is not a science with well-defined rules. There's no one formula or process that takes one from witnessing something to writing it down.
As someone whose academic background is engineering and who made a living by automating business processes, this whole lack of predictability makes me a bit nervous and jumpy. Even without the morning gallon of coffee.
Take the events and interpretations one finds in today's newswire, for example.
The Browns carefully measure the news opportunities provided to journalists. All journalists witness the same things. On Wednesday morning, we all showed up around 10:30 AM and were escorted onto the practice field. About 20-30 minutes later, after watching players stretch and go through a few basic drills, we were herded back into the Browns media room.
There was certainly enough material provided to meet the basic nutritional requirements of a growing and hungry local sports media.
Tracking today's newswire, though, we find the resulting stories were really quite different.
The top story comes from the Akron Beacon-Journal's Pat McManamon, who writes about new Browns quarterback Trent Dilfer and how he seems to be bonding with his teammates. Dilfer was pretty impressive in his time with the press, so that makes sense as a story out of yesterday's news opportunities.
That makes sense as well. While Crennel has made reference to Law before, the ex-Pats defensive back continues to move closer to being able to contribute on the field (he is running now), so this also is a legit choice as the story to highlight.
There are several other takes out of the news, such as the Associated Press taking some comments made by Romeo Crennel about Winslow's rehab and using that as the basis for their story.
The team's official site took the same information and reported that passing camp was "high tempo" and that all the players are excited.
So, what's the real news?
Well, in my opinion, all of it. But it's very dependent on what the reporter finds important or, perhaps, who employs the reporter.
One has to assume that this is true for every other type of news as well, from politics to finance to science to the local news' decision on which blood trail to use to lead off the 11PM newscast.
Heck, the filter of individual interpretation kicks in even when the task is as simple as putting together the Daily Newswire.
I put Pat McManamon's story at the top, because Dilfer's comments made the biggest impression on me. Part of the reason Dilfer made an impression was because he reacted strongly in defense of his offensive line to a question I asked him.
When I slammed this all together, I also put the Plain Dealer and Winslow articles were near the top because they seemed like nice new bits of information on two continuing stories.
At the end of the day, you can't even trust a simple listing of stories to be free of someone's opinion of what is important and what is not.
Whoa. We have met the enemy and he is us.