Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Woodward, Bernstein & Me?

I pick up The Fairfax County Times nearly every week at the Metro station. The paper provides a list of events going on in the community, stories about local government and schools, and it's a free publication with a coupon section. I'm a fan. Anyway, in the April 8-10 edition, I noticed this article titled "Sports betting, the new American pastime" in the Sports section directly next to a story about George Mason's women's lacrosse team defeating Richmond.

This article by Geoff Freeman may be hard to read, but the premise is that gambling on professional sports should be legal. I don't disagree with this article, but it seemed odd to appear in The Fairfax County Times particularly after the NCAA Tournament ended and well before the football season begins. Therefore, I did a quick Google search on Mr. Freeman and learned that he is the President and CEO of the American Gaming Association. This isn't mentioned anywhere in the story or the by-line though that certainly seems relevant. I decided that more research needed to be done here, so I contacted both The Fairfax County Times and the American Gaming Association. I wanted to know if Mr. Freeman was paid for this story or did the American Gaming Association pay The Fairfax County Times for the story. Basically, was there funny business in the journalism industry here? This was going to be the scoop of the century and bigger than the Panama Papers.

Gregg MacDonald, editor of The Fairfax County Times quickly replied to my inquiry:

It was an article submitted to us by Mr. Freeman for publication.

"Special to the Times" simply means the author is not an employee of our paper. In this particular case, Mr. Freeman was not compensated. Informed readers should always research the source of any article, as you did, and I encourage everyone to do so, as it helps to keep democracy healthy.

We had another print article about sports betting in that same paper with a different take on the subject, but that article was not published online due to the limited licensing rights of that author, which allow for printed publication only.

We often try to publish different--and occasionally conflicting--viewpoints on any subject.

Well, that's not very exciting. I mean, this makes sense, but I was hoping for a major scoop. Fine, I'll just write that I haven't heard back from the American Gaming Association meaning that something sinister is up!

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