The Kings are not leaving Sacramento.
That’s the clear impression I got from reading Marcos Breton’s Sunday column in the Bee. Breton laments how much time he wasted Thursday trying to dispel rumors racing through the Internet that the Kings were planning a move to Virginia Beach, Va.
“No matter how vociferously I said – and tweeted – that the Kings weren’t moving, people wanted to talk about how they were,” Breton writes in his 30-inch column. He presents as seeming fact that the “Kings weren’t moving” and then denounces would-be journalists for indulging in baseless rumors and speculation.
Breton bemoans the current state of the media in which “you have a story about nothing becoming the biggest story of the day.” In the old days, he says, “standards and fact checking and analysis based on knowledge was (sic) still the universal standard in the business.”
In revving up his disdain for bloggers, citizen journalists and the like, the mainstream media columnist writes: “Many of us in the business hate days like Thursday. I foolishly spent the better part of that day as a half-baked Internet hall monitor – preaching standards to people who don’t care about them.”
My, my, my. Was Breton aiming his venom at the social media, or was it aimed at his own newspaper? Despite Breton’s certainty that the Kings were not leaving, the Bee on Friday saw fit to put a 40-inch story, along with a map and graphic, on its front page. The main headline said “Kings silent on report to move,” followed by the subhead, “Team is eyeing Virginia Beach, paper says.”
The news story pointed out that the Virginia Beach City Council plans to discuss an arena proposal tomorrow evening pushed by Comcast-Spectacor and Live Nation. Kings’ officials declined to comment, and Comcast said no team has been identified as a possible tenant for a new arena. Those were the basic facts. The story noted that a lot of rumors have swirled around the Kings since the collapse of a plan to build an arena in downtown Sacramento and gave critics about eight inches of space to dump on the Maloofs, the part-owners of the Kings.
The Bee’s news story, by its content, length and position on the front page, treated seriously the rumors that the Kings might be exploring a move toVirginia Beach. This was not a story about nonsense running amok on the Internet. Today’s Virginia Pilot adds fuel to the story line.
So what’s going on at my old newspaper? Did Breton share the certainty he had on Thursday with his editors? Did he reveal any sources he might have on the subject? Did editors hear his “fact” and reject it? Was he indulging in the know-it-all-columnist game?
Breton says he hates days when he has to dispel baseless rumors. As a newspaper reader, I hate days when I read a column that undercuts a front-page story in the same newspaper. Either the column or the news story had no business being in a newspaper that values its credibility.