There aren’t many strict rules in modern journalism. With the free speech debate rampant on the political circuit, writers can justify covering any topic whatsoever. Then again, the dead-end of any journalism career is reached only by one path: libel. Stating that New York Times reporter Juliet Macur may recently have crossed the line may have would be making a gross understatement: Macur broke through the caution tape, and drove way too far.
A few weeks ago, Macur published a story covering the free agent options for former Eagle Michael Vick. Vick, 33, was unseated by second-year sensation Nick Foles as the number one quarterback in 2013. Seeking a starting position, Vick has reportedly decided that he will not return to the team.
Macur-apparently looking for an easy write- goes on to write a pathos-based article trying to catch the emotional side of her readership(however little it may be). The article simply calls on the very same buzz that went around when Vick was initially signed by Philadelphia in ‘09. To truly see what poor journalism this is, one must simply read a small excerpt:
They should remember this: Vick was the mastermind behind his dogfighting operation. He bankrolled it, gave it a home base, encouraged it.
This same piece could have just as easily have been published in 2009. Heck, Macur may as well have just republished an old ‘09 article instead of going to the trouble of juxtaposing random emotional anecdotes. “There was Ellen, who managed to retain her fuzzy cuteness even when half of her face drooped because of the nerve damage caused by fighting…When I visited [Cherry] and 21 other Vick dogs at the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary in 2008, he continued to tremble even as I petted him gently for more than an hour.”
The fact of the matter is that these issues are behind Vick, behind fans, and behind NFL football. Macur herself admitted that Vick has since attempted to correct his actions, and ameliorate the situation for young children who may well have followed Vick’s path otherwise: “He has worked with the Humane Society of the United States — the same organization that said all of Vick’s fighting dogs should be euthanized — to warn children of the evils of dogfighting…He supported a bill on Capitol Hill that would make it a felony to bring a child to a dogfight, because he said going to fights as a boy was what set him on his misguided path.”
Macur attempts to disgrace Vick by claiming he is a poor example for youth. Ironically, Vick has recently changed the landscape for children raised in unstable environments. He has been one of the role models on the current Eagles team, surrendering his starting position without a peep of resistance. Additionally, Vick took a significant pay cut so that he could return to the team after a disappointing 2012, which allowed the Eagles to spend money on key free agents Cary Williams, Brad Fletcher, and Connor Barwin.
This piece-which truly deserves no linkage-insults the world of sports journalism. It mocks the legal punishment process, denying the fact that men everyday emerge from prison ready to contribute to society. It defames GM Howie Roseman and owner Jeff Lurie, for offering a man a second chance at success. The Eagles’ front office believed in Vick. To villainize them for their faith in a lazy attempt to attract readers is, to use Macur’s own words, “…a pathetically low bar.”
As for Vick, it is clear to the Philadelphia sports media and fans that he will be an excellent asset to whichever team signs him. “I’ve changed in so many ways, so many — why don’t you write that?”
Photo : Tim Shaffer/REUTERS