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Aug 1 / King Kaufman

Did a reporter’s inaccurate tweet affect the Ryan Dempster trade?

Ryan DempsterRyan Dempster is a Texas Ranger after a deadline-day trade from the Chicago Cubs. He might have been an Atlanta Brave if not for a premature report on Twitter.

Paul Wilson of Poynter details how “up-to-the-second reporting became part of the story, possibly affecting the trade.”

It’s a reminder of how easy it is for reporters to become a part of the story, and how careful we have to be to avoid doing that.

As Wilson notes, Dempster had veto power over a trade, but had reportedly told the Cubs he would approve trades to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Braves, in that order of preference:

On Monday, July 23, Mark Bowman, who covers the Braves for, reported via Twitter, “Confirmed Ryan Dempster is coming to the Braves.” No source was cited. Bloggers and other reporters jumped in, either expounding on the deal or trying to advance the story. It was reported that, in return, the Cubs would get Randall Delgado, a 22-year-old pitcher …

Dempster, in Pittsburgh as the Cubs started a three-game series, apparently learned of the trade via the media (it’s unclear exactly how) and not from the Cubs, and felt “blindsided.”

Less than an hour after Bowman’s tweet, a tweet from Dempster’s official account said, emphatically, “THERE IS NO TRADE dont [sic] know where this info came from!

Now, we don’t know that Dempster would have approved the trade without Bowman’s tweet. The pitcher was weighing some family issues as he made his decision and may have decided against approving any Braves trade even if one hadn’t been reported, however accurately, on Twitter.

But it certainly looks like he reacted to Bowman’s tweet. Wilson also points out that former big-league general manager Jim Bowden, who now works for ESPN, tweeted on deadline day that Twitter was “really causing headaches to GMs who get close to deals.”

We all want to be first, but we don’t want to insert ourselves into a story. One way to avoid doing that is by following the guidelines you’ll find in the B/R Blog posts Verifying sources: A primer and checklist and Verifying stories on social media: A reading list from Poynter.

If your information is properly verified and sourced, you won’t alter the story by inserting false information into it.

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Photo: Getty Images

  • Mike Moraitis

    That is a nightmare. Was Bowman disciplined for this?

    • King_Kaufman

      Doesn’t look like it. His blog post that day said, properly, that the Braves had reached an agreement to make the trade but Dempster hadn’t approved it — but that blog post also cited no sources. He didn’t report that the Braves said they’d reached an agreement. He just stated it as a fact from on high. I would definitely have a conversation with him if he worked for B/R …