Wick Communications

The Internet … a cautionary tale

In Online media on 20 Feb 2009 at 5:00 am

301384547You can’t blame Phoenix New Times for trying. I guess.

Last week, on the eve of the NBA All-Star game, which was undeniably the big event in town, the alternative-weekly wrote a looooong story about tattoos. It used the profusion of tats among NBA players as the jumping off point – a news peg – for the feature.

And that’s where a good story went bad. Really, really bad.

The news peg was that the NBA’s biggest bash was coming to town and, would you believe it, the professional basketball league was planning to put a cap on the number of tattoos players could have after the 2011 season. The story quoted NBA Commissioner David Stern as saying, “We feel it is important that our players not scare the bejesus out of affluent demographic groups with gangsta-style tattoos.”..

Which should have been a clue for writer Niki D’Andrea. Ever seen Stern? If you have, you would know he’s not the type to say “bejesus” to a scribe. Turns out the whole “tattoo cap” thing was malarkey. D’Andrea says she read it on Foxsports.com, which was merely reprinting a spoofy blog post. D’Andrea’s  hoops dream story turned into a whoops nightmare.

Here’s the lesson: Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. I’ve touched on this before. You simply can’t take this collection of 1s and Os for gospel. Check everything out. Use primary sources. If you reprint anything from the Web without checking it out you do so at your peril. And if you come on a story on the Web that seems too good to be true – such as the NBA capping tattoos – it probably is too good to be true.

You do not want a story like this following you around for the rest of your career — and that is one thing the Internet is very, very good at.

— Clay

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