Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mr. Anonymous

For the record, I very much enjoy when readers log onto the blog and tell us exactly what we’re doing wrong. I wish everyone would do it.

But for some less internet-savvy readers, they just wait until they see a guy with a clipboard at a high school game, ask if he's with the T.T. and do it in person. That’s cool, too. (Except for the T.T. part. It’s just “The Tribune” now. Telegrams are so last century.)

The last time a reader came up to me, he brought up a good point. I was forced to reveal a heavily guarded newspaper secret. And now I’m giving it away in this blog.

He wanted to know if I was the guy who came out to last week’s water polo match — because if I was, I got all the details wrong. I told him that nobody was at the match.

“But it said ‘staff reports,’ ” he exclaimed.

I might get fired for telling you this, but here’s the journalism secret revealed: “Staff reports” in a byline is newspaper code for “we weren’t there.”

We sports journalists also have other cryptic ciphers, kind of like the “Da Vinci Code.” And I’ve heard when you put them all together and read them backward in a mirror, they reveal the source of the Barry Bonds grand jury leak, but I’m not sure.

Basically, whenever you read a sports story that’s penned by the staff of The Tribune, it means the report’s information was either taken over the phone or written off a news release — or both. Sometimes I write them or another reporter or editor does. Most times it’s one of our interns or news assistant.

Mistakes surely happen, but not because some reporter covered the game with his eyes closed.

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