Journalists are supposed to speak their mind. They have the obligation to report things, popular or not. They have the right to be snide, sarcastic or to take on injustice.
But what happens when the journalist crosses the line? Short of litigating a claim for libel or defamation, does the journalist have any obligations to remain within reasonable boundaries?
In my opinion they do. I am all for challenging calls on the field. For questioning behavior off the field. For calling out improper conduct.
But to attack a college football player who has fought to overcome a mistake? It seems in this case Rich Cimini has gone too far.
And yet he appears unwilling to apologize.
When the Jets drafted Kenrick Ellis (NO “D” in his name please), Cimini announced the pick of Ellis via Twitter by caling him a “druggie.” The exact text of his tweet was:
“With the 94th pick in the draft, the #Jets select druggie Kenrick Ellis, a NT from Hampton.”
And this is from the Jets coverage.
And if that wasn’t enough, a couple tweets later he said:
“NT Kenrick Ellis could be third-round steal for #Jets … as long as he stays out of jail.”
Now the reality is that Kenrick has been involved in some issues and is facing some serious charges. It is perfectly acceptable to disucss those charges or address the concerns that come along with them.
But that analysis should be left to the critique of the draft or an extended article rather than taking pure personal pot-shots at the kid over Twitter.
Cimini is getting a lot of deserved flack on the Twitter-sphere so we will see whether the Jets take any action in response or whether Cimini’s employer at ESPNNewYork.com take a second look at this behavior.
This one crossed all boundaries, and as of the writing of this post, Cimini had still not apologized, despite many requests from Ellis’ agent.
While a lot of the damage is done, an apology goes a long way towards re-establishing some credibility. At this point, you have to wonder if there was something else beneath the surface which would have caused Cimini to take such a hostile personal stance against a new draftee on one of the most exciting days of his life.