By Andy Schotz | July 29th, 2009
The New York sports world took a peculiar turn this week when a reporter who broke a story about alleged misdeeds of a New York Mets executive was accused of angling for his job.
The N.Y. Daily News beat reporter, Adam Rubin, wrote a story about team executive Tony Bernazard supposedly berating minor leaguers and other obnoxious acts. When the Mets’ general manager, Omar Minaya, announced Bernazard had been fired, he also accused Rubin up trying to get a job with the team.
Former New York Times sports columnist Murray Chass, who writes on his own these days, was one of several people to write about what has becoe a pretty lively story in New York (http://www.murraychass.com/?p=876).
Claiming Rubin inquired about working in the Mets’ front office, Minaya called Rubin out at a public press conference, but later apologized for the timing of his complaint, although not the substance of it.
Rubin said he was shocked by the accusation. His questions about getting a baseball job were general and had nothing to so with his story, he said. The Mets chief operating officer offered to sit and chat with him about baseball jobs, but they never did, Rubin said.
Chass reported a noteworthy detail: Rubin asked the same general question – How does one get a job in baseball? – to all 30 Major League teams, according to Chass.
(Disclosure: I talked to Chass about this story for a possible follow-up column he might do.)
There’s a bigger question beyond the particulars of this soap opera: Was Rubin too chummy with the Mets?
Readers should reasonably expect that a reporter on any beat won’t be friends with sources and won’t be asking for favors from them, such as career advice.
Had Rubin’s chatter with the team gone beyond small talk?
A Mets announcer likened the situation to a political reporter becoming tight with a presidential press secretary.
Remember the pitfalls of getting too close, which is especially a risk when you travel with the people you cover.
Also, a perceived conflict can be as damaging as an actual conflict. No matter how you meant what you did or said, you can’t control how it was interpreted.