Posted by Josh Katzowitz
I’ve been sent messages and Tweets and e-mails all day. Were you the guy asking for Tim Tebow’s autograph? Were you the fool, the idiot, the embarrassment to journalism, the clown shoes who would do something so unethical and gag reflex-inducing? These notes came with sides of sarcasm, because Sunday night’s incident is so disgusting from a journalistic ethics point of view that it’s almost hilarious.
I live in Cincinnati, but I was not at Sunday’s Bengals-Broncos preseason game. So, it wasn’t me. And honestly, I’m not sure who it could have been. Ninety-nine percent of the people I know in the Cincinnati journalism community would not dream of trying to pull off something like that.
In case you need a refresher, here’s what happened after Sunday’s game. Two “journalists” – and I say that with all the mockery I can muster – approached Tebow in Denver’s locker room and asked him to sign autographs. He did. One apparently was a photographer. One apparently was a member of the Cincinnati media.
We don’t know who they are. Not yet anyway. But they were booted out of the locker room when the Broncos PR staff found out about the incident, and I imagine their names will surface at some point.
People outside the journalism community might not think this is a big deal, but inside our world, it’s a very big deal. And a very big embarrassment. You’re taught from the moment you enter a clubhouse or a locker room as a cub reporter that you WILL NOT ask for autographs. It’s on the fine print of your media credential, but it wouldn’t even occur to most of us. You’re there to do a job, not to score some memorabilia.
The players are in the locker room - their semi-private space - and shouldn’t have to be bothered by signing more autographs (although teammates approach each other all the time with footballs and 8x10 glossies) and the reporters are supposed to be objective. Most of us are. Which means we don’t ask for autographs. We don’t seek out business deals with players. We don’t use our access for exploitation. All are fireable offenses.
I hope we find out who asked for the autographs. I hope their season credentials – if they have them – are taken away and burned. I hope they’re ashamed of themselves today. Because they caused their entire profession a great deal of embarrassment.
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