Friday, May 18, 2007

The Return of Medblogged: When You Don't Have Any Facts, Report Rumors

We should have known Medlock's digital silence was too good to be true (see earlier posting). Last Sunday, in fact, Medlock returned to the web with a breathless set of City Hall rumors about Mayor Cathy Taylor's plans to sell off some of the city's golf courses.

According to Medlock, the mayor has already cooked up a backroom deal to sell some of the city's golf course property to a favored private developer.

There's only one problem with Medlock's story: It may not be true.

Based on his Medblogged posting, Medlock didn't talk to the mayor herself. He didn't talk to anyone on the mayor's staff. He names no names and offers no verifiable facts.

Who did he talk to? Medlock mentions his "sources," but they are all unidentified. As a former elected city official, Medlock ought to have some city hall sources. If he does, you'd think he might link at least one of his sources to city hall. He doesn't.

Tulsans don't know if these sources have the slightest idea what they are talking about. Tulsans have no way of knowing how reliable or knowledgeable these sources are or if they might be "playing" Medlock, feeding him a juicy rumor for their own political purposes.

Even Medlock doesn't seem sure about his story. After reporting on "the deal" with the unidentified developer in one sentence, Medlock backtracks in the next sentence with the disclaimer "if true."

Earth to Chris
: If it's in fact a deal, as you report, then it's true. You can't have it both ways.

Or what about this particularly artful wording? Medlock writes, "It is further speculated that…."

Hey, we can all speculate about Mayor Taylor's plans or, for that matter, the price of eggs in China.

But speculation is not proof of anything and it's not reporting. Medlock offers no facts about Mayor Taylor's meeting with any developer and not a single named source who can support any of his "speculations."

We can say this for Chris Medlock: He's not much of a reporter.

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