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Why buy into rumor sites?

July 23, 2012

In case you hadn’t heard, Rick Nash got traded today.

Twitter was more than likely the source of the news for most people considering that Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger are always first out with just about any trade or signing. Both McKenzie and Dreger are proper insiders who have always been credible sources for NHL news.

The reason I bring this up is because at no point today did I turn to Hockeyy Insiderr, Eklund or any other faceless rumor monger. There have been times that I have read through Eklund’s posts or Hockeyy Insiderr’s feed. However, there has never been a time in which I have interpreted what they write as gospel.

Just about any hockey fan could have connected the dots between the Blue Jackets and the Rangers regarding the Rick Nash situation. Going back to the trade deadline, most reports indicated that the Rangers were the team with the most interest and the expendable pieces to acquire Nash. As opposed to other teams like San Jose who weren’t willing to part with certain players to acquire the winger. Sources or not, the Rangers were far and away the assumed destination for Nash.

Perhaps the slow summer has had a profound impact on where hockey fans are gathering information. A safe assumption would be that the lack of real news has pushed more people to search for any form of information. Even if that information comes from questionable sources.

Maybe Hockeyy Insiderr does have a few credible sources willing to give him real information. If that is the case, more power to him. What seems more likely is that he (and Eklund) have friends in the know who give out tidbits on deals which have previously fallen through. If those GMs eventually circle back for counter offers, that is when you see a rumor turn into news. Ultimately, it ends up being a solitary diamond in a heap of coal.

For entertainment purposes, it might be fun to follow along with what these guys are putting out on a regular basis. A great many people indicate that they follow along just to laugh at the rumors. Regardless of why you follow along, it is ultimately mindless drivel that shouldn’t ever be interpreted as a true news report.

The biggest problem that seems to leach credibility from these guys is the fact that they try to break news and report that trades or signings are about to break. If they stuck to their guns and simply reported what they heard, they would likely be far more effective.

For example, instead of sending a Tweet that is full of inaccurate information, sticking with the facts would be far more effective. You can go from something along the lines of this; “Nash will be moved to the #Flyers for at least 3 players…more to come when more details are available,”  to something that looks closer to this; “#Flyers are said to have interest in Nash. Not sure what they’re willing to offer.”

See the difference? The wild speculation is gone, assuming a deal is done has been eliminated while still identifying the interest of the team connected to the original rumor. Any and all speculation can then be made by anyone willing to have a conversation about the deal. This would still feed the drooling masses of fans who need to drink in as many rumors as possible per day without needing to make claims that will simply incite criticism.

Making outlandish claims doesn’t even pay off in terms of risk-reward. At the end of the day it just appears to be whatever crap stuck to the wall from the morning. Any fan can connect the dots between the Predators needing to match the Weber offer sheet. Reporting they will is simply playing the odds.

This is why The Fourth Period, Spector’s Hockey and even ESPN have superior rumor reporting. They take actual reports into account when providing information. TFP and Spector pulls from newspaper reports and then effectively draw realistic conclusions from real reports. There is a base to every rumor they report as compared to claiming anonymous sources across the league.

A novel concept would be to keep things simple. Give people the facts and let the conversation grow. It would allow for conversation based on facts, rather than conjecture.

Until that can be done, rumor sites will simply pander to fans who are too involved on Xbox and receive non-stop criticism from fans and media members who know better than to wait for every update with baited breath.

 

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