SAN FRANCISCO Medical school graduates take theHippocratic oath, which can be distilled into three words: Do no harm.
Journalism school grads take no such oath, but our duty is clear: Were bound toseek the truth, to be as fair and accurate as possible and to serve the interestsof readers.
I thought I was doing that Friday when I chose to ask MelkyCabrera about rumors that I had heard from several different readers who hadcontacted me via email and my Twitter account over the past few days. I had noidea where these rumors started, but the questions were starting to mushroomabout whether Cabrera flunked a drug test and would face a 50-game suspension.
Lets be clear: There is no evidence that there is any shredof truth to these rumors. Cabrera knew nothing about it. He contacted the unionand his agent. They told him the rumors were unfounded as well. If Cabrera hadfailed a test, he and the union wouldve been the first to know. The rumor, tomy knowledge, is a red herring. Cabrera even suggested to me that Dodgers fanscould have made it up as a distraction.
I wasnt 100 percent sure what to do next. On one hand, itsmy duty to serve readers who look to me to provide accurate information aboutthe team I cover. On the other hand, knocking down the rumors would serve togive greater voice to them.
Ultimately, I decided to serve the truth.
Upon reflection, I did more harm than good.
We live in a different media universe and the rules arechanging every day. Information is immediate. The level of interaction betweenfans and journalists is greater than ever. Anyone can self-publish any thoughtthat rumbles through his or her head, true or untrue. It can be a confusingcacophony for any journalist, and it certainly is for me at times.
Its my job to serve readers. But what if its just onetenth of one percent of my readership who are asking these questions? Is it myresponsibility to respond to them in a public way?
Asking these questions from a different vantage point: If Iwere Melky Cabrera, would I appreciate a reporter who knocked down a rumor thatwas just a whisper in some corners of the Internet? Or would I be royallypissed to see my name mentioned alongside PEDs, no matter the context, by acredentialed, professional journalist?
Its obvious, isnt it? Well, it should have been obvious tome. It wasnt.
In retrospect, I made the wrong decision to address theserumors on my Twitter account and disseminate it to my 30,000-plus followers.
So I feel its important that I issue a public apology toMelky Cabrera for giving greater voice to a rumor that, to the best of myknowledge and on his word, has absolutely no basis in fact.
I can only hope that he, and the rest of the Giants clubhouse,coaches and front-office personnel, at least understand that my motivationswere not nefarious or self-oriented in any way. I wasnt looking to create astory. I was trying to squash one that has no basis in fact.
As I often say to folks who ask me to describe my job, Iwrite about the Giants, not for them. In this case, Im not apologizing becauseIm seeking their approval. Im apologizing because its the right thing to do.
About that, I am certain.