Reality revealed.

It’s a surreal coincidence that the world of sport has offered two high-profile stories in one week demonstrating the dangerous effects of deception. On top of the Armstrong saga, I just caught up on the Manti Te’o hoax in America. In short, a player claimed to have a girlfriend who recently died, and yet he proceeded to perform amazingly for his team in future games. The media reported it as an inspirational tale. It turns out that both Te’o and the media were conned. The girlfriend didn’t exist. She was a fictional entity concocted online by some vicious person who seems to have been intent on replicating the film Catfish. Timothy Egan thinks it speaks volumes about the nature of modern ‘relationships’, but what strikes me more is how anyone who followed this story and loves American football will have had reality swept from underneath their feet. Everything they read in the media turned out to be false. Nobody understood that what they thought to be true was not. Again, the detrimental impact of things like this on the public’s trust in journalists is not to be taken lightly. That’s what my vacation essay was all about. Margaret Sullivan, the NYT’s Public Editor, reflects on what went wrong at the Grey Lady.


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