Watch Tower: Arians’ Saga a Victory for Old School Journalism

Steeler Nation waited in pins and needles this past week, as rumors flew left and right concerning the fate of Bruce Arians, the Steelers offensive coordinator.

We heard from Jim Wexell that he was out, as a result of the changed culture brought in by the Steelers new investors. That story was confirmed by ESPN Pittsburgh, who reported several times that Arians was a goner.

Then we heard, it was from Pro Football Talk if I am not mistaken, that Arians himself had been the source of the rumor. Finally, Jim Wexell again tells us that it was Ben Roethlisberger who saved Arians’ job.

Pittsburgh’s two daily newspapers, the Post-Gazette and the Tribune Review, stood pat. Both papers reported the story, but refused to confirm. Ed Bouchette, writing in PG Plus, confirmed that there was pressure from the front office for Arians’ head, but went no further.

In the background of all of this noise, Bouchette did report something that was based in verifiable fact — that A.O. Shipley refused to resign with the team, in part based on the Steelers unwillingness to confirm who his position coach would be.

The Magic of Objectivity

Less than 24 hours later, the news broke that offensive line coach Larry Zierlien had been fired, but that Bruce Airans had been retained.

The one story that was based on objective facts turned out to be true; the one simply came from unnamed sources wasn’t true…. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

This should also serve as a reminder to journalists everywhere how important it is to distinguish fact from truth, to use the differientation made famous by the Washington Post’s Ben Bradlee.

When the news broke that Arians was a goner, Arians apparently went to Tomlin for confirmation. Tomlin refused to speak with him according to Jim Wexell, and Arians interpreted this to mean he got the axe. He told someone who went and told some one, and soon enough, everyone knew (even Steelers fans living in Argentina.)

  • Fact: Tomlin refused to talk to Arians

Everything else was all subjective. The repoters who insisted that Arians was out bought into the subjectivity.

  • Turth: Regardless of rumor or pressure, Tomlin had apparently not made a decision

In the end, the turth was a lot less sexier, but true journalism is about letting an audience know the facts, however mundane they might be.

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