Yes, I’m talking to you, everyone who wrote an article with some variation of the title, “Ex-Braves Player Jones Arrested for Domestic Violence.” Anyone notice a key word missing?
Who is the first ballplayer you think of when you hear Braves and Jones? If you said anyone other than career Atlanta Brave and first-ballot hall of fame certainty, Chipper, then you’re either out of touch with baseball (understandable) or a fool.
Anyway, as I’m sure you know, the former Brave referenced in the arrest headline is Andruw, the former slugger and gold-glover who hasn’t been on the Braves in several seasons. Most recently a Yankee, Andruw Jones also spent an abysmal season with the Dodgers, and had signed on to play in Japan this year. The Braves are long in his rear view mirror.
I will admit, the problem isn’t only with the piece of feces excuses for journalists who somehow have jobs. Yes, their complete disregard for journalistic ethics is nothing less than appalling, but the age of Internet news is at least partially to blame. See, it’s all about how many “clicks” you can get. Even if your totally transparent motive is to make people gasp and think, “Holy cow, Chipper got arrested!?” before seeing that the article was about Andruw. Never mind that people won’t read it, the mission was accomplished. The headline was clicked on and the article was opened.
Journalists used to be champions and watchdogs for the public. They reported facts that happened, kept institutions like big businesses and governments honest… well, ok, as honest as giant rabbles of greedy crooks can possibly be… so the public felt it could protect itself with information. Now, in the online age, it’s all about clicks. Clicks mean bigger advertising checks, better search engine results, which again leads to bigger bucks. Ethics be damned.
If I was Chipper Jones, I would be furious. And I would sue. Would I win? Probably not, as truth is an absolute defense to libel and slander, and technically, “Jones” is a former Braves player. But I’ll tell you what, I would make some noise.
How would I have written the headline, you ask? Simple. “Andruw Jones Arrested on Suspicion of Domestic Violence.” Sure, it wouldn’t get thousands of clicks it might otherwise get because I didn’t pander to the general baseball loving public’s natural instinctive reaction to a Brave named Jones being Chipper, but at least I’d have been able to go to bed at night knowing that I’m honest, and in my opinion, NOT a piece of sh*t.