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Boston Herald Patriots beat writer John Tomase published an account of what led to his writing of The Story in which he reported that the Patriots taped the St. Louis Rams’ walk-through before Super Bowl XXXVI. The story was published the day before the Super Bowl and has been proven false when Matt Walsh divulged that he nor anyone else in the Patriots video staff had done so.
Tomase basically says that he messed up by relying a source (or a ‘few’ sources he says) but never could back any of it up with hard evidence. He heard from a source ‘he trusted’ that the Patriots had filmed the walk-through but Tomase never saw a tape or talked to anyone who saw a tape. He states in today’s article that at the time of publishing he was convinced his story was accurate but as time went on and more information came out about the walk-through he began to question the validity of story.
He goes on to apologize and says he wants to start over to gain the trust back to the readers and the team who he let down. He released the story on that day because he felt the New York Times was getting close to Matt Walsh and his story so he went with it without credible evidence.
My Take: Today’s article explaining his reasoning for releasing the story underscores why he should be taken off the Patriots beat immediately. One of the first things you learn in journalism is that the facts are all that really matters and you must double and triple check your sources/evidence before printing an article as fact. Tomase says himself that he basically got over excited that he had “the scoop” and thus started to believe the Patriots had filmed the walk-through without talking to ANYBODY who had seen this purported tape.
Tomase says that everyone makes mistakes – which is true – but his mistake is so monumental because of the outlet he works for and the enormous amount of damage he’s done to a sports franchise. He printed a story as fact when it was false. He broke the sacred rule of journalism and now he is paying the price as hundreds of comments line his story, nearly all with a negative view of Tomase.
I hope the Patriots take the high ground by not suing the Herald and not revoking credentials, but I also hope the Herald does the right thing and takes Tomase off the beat immediately. The paper could do irrecoverable damage to its popular sports section if it allows this shoddy journalism at the highest level.
What are your thoughts?