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CLEVELAND- Indians pitchers Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger left the Indians team hotel while in Chicago. Plesac and Clevinger violated team rules by staying out past the established curfew. Both pitchers hung out with friends in Chicago. Plesac was disgusted with the negative media coverage and posted a video to “clear things up”.
There was nothing to clear up though. Plesac was required to stay in the hotel as mandated by the Indians team rules. Plesac’s violation was just like violating any companies’ rules. There are rules that employees must follow. The same logic exists for athletes. Plesac said the media was terrible and clearly believed that he was treated unfairly. He claimed everyone followed the CDC guidelines since his friends and Clevinger were all six feet apart. Plesac wasn’t happy with the negativity towards Clevinger either. Clevinger boarded the team plane without disclosing any information about what he did. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge deal as long as he didn’t test positive for Coronavirus. At this time, neither player tested positive for Coronavirus which is a huge relief.
An apology is one thing. However, adding additional information ironically harmed Plesac’s reputation. It’s great to publicly apologize and Plesac could’ve made things better with a shorter video with a real apology. The video sounded more like an attempt to excuse his actions.
Furthermore, calling the media coverage terrible shows a complete lack of understanding of the media’s rights and responsibilities. This goes beyond the current pandemic. The last few years have been rough for reporters. The constant labeling of “fake news”, “terrible reporter” and “nasty question” continue to hit the media hard. Perhaps it’s time to clear a few things up for the media.
The media has certain roles. It’s nothing personal, reporters have a job to do and it’s often a tough one. Reporters must not be afraid to upset people regardless of who they interview. A fear of upsetting interviewees is a major sign of weakness. This is something I learned the hard way during my days of studying Journalism at Cleveland State University. My first Journalism professor Cliff Anthony warned me right away that if I’m afraid to upset people, then Journalism isn’t for me. It was a tough lesson to learn but it sticks with me to this day. Reporters often have to be critical of people covered and their actions.
Reporters must discuss community concerns. They also have the role of watchdog with political reporting which is a vital component of the system of checks and balances. Some people may not think highly of the media’s roles or the way in which the media covers issues. The media isn’t perfect. Reporters should be as balanced as possible. It’s a tough job to do. Reporters must also be courageous, having no fear of upsetting people. Reporters even receive death threats at times. It comes with the job.
Journalism isn’t Public Relations. Reporters are fact gatherers. They don’t protect and restore a person’s or company’s public image. It’s that simple.
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