Please Don't Read Beyond the Byline

Jun 28 2010

Serhiy Honchar Winning The Stage  Bah. You know, back in the day, this sort of thing required at least a modicum of skill. You’d look at the calendar, notice the week-and-a-half that had passed without any real news, see the Tour was about to start and you’d write something like “I sense a dope story is near”. People were once very impressed by that.

But no. Now you’ve got your rumors and your blogs and people just up and posting it and suggestive no-details Tweets that blossom out into a variety of @-replies and “what’s-that-supposed-to-means” until absolutely everyone already knows and the NYT has to print a story early.

Which, viewed big-picture, isn’t all that bad a thing. The Times‘ intention was clearly to siphon eyeballs during the #tdf’s swing as trending topic on Twitter, and thanks to the premature release, short-memoried Americans will have a few days to forget that, in the mainstream media’s tired composition on cycling, the saccharine obligato of curing cancer is constantly underscored by the dull throb of drug abuse.

If the story had any real juice to it—and since the Times has nothing, I’m content in my assumption that tomorrow’s sister piece in the WSJ (and possible circus-mirroring at Deadspin and the New York Ledger) will be similarly devoid of new developments—I might feel less cynical about its timing. Back when, the pre-Tour dope story used to come with a kill, and people were pleased with the sacrifice, however obvious it may have been.

While I agree with Jon Vaughters’ sentiment that “[w]hen there’s a scandal, that’s actually when things are being solved”, I think attempting to manufacture one for the sake of readership on the eve of cycling’s biggest stage goes a long way toward undermining that connection.

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