UPDATE: We have heard from a number of readers in COMMENTS that the finish time numbers were incorrectly reported. There is further discussion of this over at LETSRUN.COM. Looking into this now, but if true this would amount to the ‘very good explanation’ we referred to in the post. DEVELOPING…
Who, you ask, is this handsome young buck with the impressive finish time in Sunday’s Broad Street Run? Why that’s Christopher Wink, aka The Future Of Journalism. We are not kidding about the ‘Future of Journalism’ thing, those are his words not ours — he says so right HERE. And even though we have a hard time taking serious anyone who calls themselves ‘The Future Of’ anything, journalism and its future is a pet concern of ours, if only because we are old fashioned enough to still believe that journalism is essential to the perpetuation of a free and honest democratic society. Who else is gonna police the police? Or watchdog the halls of power? Or call bullshit when science is subsumed by faith-based mythology, declarations of war are premised on grave fictions and the financial sector turns out to be a house of cards? Answer: Nobody. You wanna know what that society looks like? Take a look at the last eight years, you’re soaking in it.
So, just to recap, journalism matters whether you realize or not, more than you may ever know, and as you may have heard its future is very much in doubt. Which is why we take a long, hard look at anyone claiming to represent its future and why Christopher Wink gives us pause. It’s not just because dude had to the temerity to lecture us on the parameters and ground rules of New Media even though he only graduated from Temple, like, a year ago. (He is entitled to his opinions, and besides he is not the first Temple J-schooler to assure us they have it all figured out.) It’s not just because we have it on good authority that dude wrote an entire PW cover story about Asher Roth based on a measly 10-minute phone interview with the subject of said cover story. (Sometimes deadlines and circumstance conspire to enable under-reported stories to get published.) It’s because, for reasons unclear, the self-titled ‘Future of Journalism’ is lying about his finish time in Sunday’s Broad Street Run. As you can see in the above Twit Pic, he claims to have completed the run in 82 minutes, when in fact it took him one hour and thirty-four minutes, according to Active.com which tracks all the participants’ finish times in a searchable database. Ordinarily, if some dude* shaved 12 minutes off his finish time we would let it slide, and chalk it up to the same vanity that makes men lie about their age and women lie about their weight. After all, the Broad Street Run ain’t the Olympics, right? Except, this ain’t no ordinary dude. This is, after all, the Future of Journalism and the only thing a journalist (Future Of or otherwise) has is his or her good word.
Journalists may get facts wrong — and when they do, the record is duly corrected with a published retraction — but they never flat-out lie, and if or when they do they are unceremoniously drummed out of the business because they have violated the sacred covenant of trust between consumers of news and the people who produce it. Just ask Jayson Blair and The New York Times or Mike Barnicle and The Boston Globe or Stephen Glass and the New Republic. It took years for those publications to recover their good name. It is all of this combined with the fact that Christopher Wink writes about the off-stage lives of ballerinas for the Inquirer and interviews Joe Frazier about race and legacy for WHYY and Sports Illustrated that gives us pause. We want to believe every word of those pieces is true and until now we had no reason to think otherwise — and perhaps we still don’t, perhaps there is a very good explanation. But until one is forthcoming, let’s just say we are a little concerned about The Future of Journalism and how he may impact the future of journalism.
*Casual repetition of the word ‘dude’ is a hallmark of New Media.