The Trojan Way (An Op/Ed about the LA Times story and journalistic integrity)

The Trojan Way

A week ago someone in or around the USC Athletic Department created a phenomenal video piece called the Trojan Way.

Here's the USC Athletic Department's USC Football video:

USC Football - Friday Night Video - The Trojan Way (via USCAthletics)

USC posted this Declaration at this URL: Trojan-way-thumb-800x1000-30151_medium


This declaration is not only a statement for the Athletic Department, it's a statement for the alumni as well.

When this declaration appeared, it was so impressive that I began attempting to frame the words myself and to put them to test in my own life. Using the student athletes of USC as an example, I believe many alumni see our own lives reflected in the skills, courage, and ambition of the students.

Here again are the words as I hear them stated in the video (slightly different punctuation than the written declaration) Faithful, Scholarly, Skillful, Courageous, Ambitious, Competitive
Show up Early, ready, and start fast
Compete with heart and guts
Finish what we start
Make no excuses
Tell the truth
Stand tall
Big Chest
Big Eyes
Protect the team at all times
We are tough, aggressive, and trained
We are SC
Fight On.


Now, a few comments as this creedo would pertain to recent events regarding a story published last weekend by LA Times. This is a message primarily aimed at the younger guys on this blog who think I'm off target in my criticism of LA Times behavior in the last 72 hours.

Last Saturday, the LA Times published a story which claims that the USC Athletic Department has been implicated in a new NCAA scandal. This headline was running across multiple media platforms and was picked up by multiple major media outlets. However, upon further review of the story, it became apparent to me that the LA Times headline did not match the facts.

After 36 hours of this story fulminating and spreading through the internet with thousands of people reading the story and not critically thinking about the story, I elected to pen another Fan Post in direct response to what I perceive as irresponsible journalism.

While LA Times took the step of publishing copies of a few pertinent emails, the LA Times also utterly failed to appropriately contextualize the story. Instead of framing the story on Scott Schenter, the paper appears to have chosen to attack USC Athletics.

It is clear from reviewing Mr. Schenter's emails that he was in touch with the USC Athletic Department and that the USC Athletic Department objected to his plans.

After I published my prior fan posting, I was quite surprised to see negative reaction from some individuals who frequently publish their comments on this blog. These negative reactions were surprising to me because the facts are rather clear to me. When Mr. Schenter writes, "USC Sucks" and "I will need an attorney", it is clear that he is antagonistic to the school!

However, our discussion began to focus on the motivations of the LA Times and comments regarding journalism. It became clear to me that this is not a casual blog, but a blog that has ties directly to major media. In fact, it was those ties that were having a problem with my op/ed posted two days ago.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the people who allow the freedom of speech and who allow the healthy discourse. First and foremost, without a free press and a free new media, the benefit of these discussions will be lost. Such a loss would be equivalent to a self-triggered censorship. Such a loss would be counter to the principles of the freedom of expression which we all support. But more importantly, there is a clear teachable moment here for myself and for others.

Some appear to have attacked me as a messenger. You neither know me nor am I willing to step out from behind the pseudonym. I am a older alumnus and appear to be much older than some of the people who frequent this new media blog space. Therefore, my opinions and thinking are much different than the younger generation. Without sounding like Grandpa McCoy, I hope the younger guys will think about what I'm writing here. After all, I'm not writing for the older retired guys. I'm writing to pass on some thoughts and principles to the younger guys going into their careers in journalism.

One particularly interesting comment was that some of the people on this blog are intending to be future journalists. While I understand the interest in being a writer for new media or old media, there are some things which I can not subscribe to and will not condone. I urge you younger guys to think about this. For instance, Howard Kurtz' show on CNN, called Reliable Sources, has to be one of the healthiest shows in journalism. It's the only show that is willing to challenge media outlets to address errors and correct them.

When a media outlet intentionally frames a story to attack an institution or organization, it has real ramifications. The damage of the NCAA COI findings in 2009 were felt throughout USC's administration and campus life for the past four years. But, more importantly, alumni feel it. The general economy around the city feels it. And, it hurts! It's painful to us all. Therefore, when the LA Times intentionally frames a story and then it is clear that it is framed incorrectly, LA Times is deserving of the criticism. After all, if you younger guys are jumping on me with your criticism, where is your criticism of LA Times?

And, for me, that type of review and criticism would be the Trojan Way. Because after we graduate, we go on with our lives but we carry the Trojan Way.

I am not a journalist. However, I have been around journalists for my entire life. The recent situation with Rupert Murdoch and the English media is sadly reflective of the erosion of media legitimacy in the United States. Murdoch's behavior in those papers came under scrutiny due to lines being crossed. Well, I see lines being crossed with this LA Times article. What line you may ask? It's the line between fairness and not. Is it fair to write a headline about USC Athletics when the suspect is writing that the people at UW rejected his offers and that USC had concerns about NCAA violations?

This isn't about just another allegation. It's about one allegation too far. And, this time, the LA Times fabricated the relationship between the school and Schenter. The paper chose to frame the headline, although they already knew he was not a booster. The article also ignored that Schenter pestering other universities as well. How is this remotely responsible journalism?

Each fall we old alumni return like a herd of old elephants or donkeys looking for our youth and retouching that joy of youth at these games. When I walk on campus, I remember the excitement of learning, the teaching by older professors of how to do scholarly work, and then the old friendships we built. And I miss them. I miss my old professor who recruited me and gave me a future with a scholarship to get to college. I miss his presence in my life after I graduated because at USC the professors cared even after you graduated. Some of the professors would teach under the trees and sit with us talking about things other than classroom notes. I was very fortunate to go to USC. This is my recollection of USC and I hope its yours. And, I get to carry that experience into my old age. Its why I decided to donate this year. May be this column is my way of trying to do the same thing for some of you young guys.

My cynicism is probably too raw and my heart is too sore from the media's arrows fired at my degree, my diploma, and my hard fought academics. Things get raw when LA Times slimes the university and slimes the alumni's credentials with it. LA Times does not know how many times in the past four years that I have had people claim that I am a cheater and that I am unsportsmanlike in doing things. Well, I'm no cheater and I am focused on fact. But, there are times when you take the hit and fall in the political battle because it's worth it to stand for something instead of nothing.

Today, the team teaches us and says that it doesn't matter what the others think. It doesn't matter if they say we're number two or five or tenth. But, for some reason, to me, it does. Because I do have ego and pride, it is sore when the ego is bruised with the "new allegation". So, if the person reporting a "new allegation" does not understand, let's educate them. If they still report on the "new allegation", then let's just stay away from them.

Some of you younger guys say that I need to "chill". I will not. If you "chill", you are condoning. That reporting was and is inexcusable. Therefore, "chill" is not the Trojan Way.

There is a real reason that LA Times has lost subscribers and ad revenue in the last ten years. It's precisely because of the arrogance that is implicit in some of LA Times stories, just like the one that ran this past Saturday. It's because some stories are rushed to publish instead of being vetted appropriately.

There is a real reason that Southern California's economy is ailing so badly.

My diagnosis of the problem may sting, but the painful truth is that California's economy is ailing because there is not enough respect for the privacy of citizens, the ownership over accomplishment, and the reward for going the extra mile. Instead, we see some seeking to blame the person who achieves the excellence, claims they are cheaters, and then assails their character in the process. It appears that some of you blame me for just this error, but I stand by my comments and my analysis. These articles do not appear in the paper without at least some vetting. If that story ran without proper vetting, LA Times owes USC and USC alumni an apology.

It doesn't really seem to matter if it is a big corporation, a newspaper, a government agency, a city government, or an institution of higher learning. All of these large organizations are populated with people who make mistakes, errors, and fall short of their goals. We need to acknowledge that we are all prone to error because "to err is human". If that error is acknowledged, then we say sorry and move on. But in this case, is it fair for the media to lynch an organization so many times regarding issues which came to light three years ago?

The difference between a great organization and a mediocre one is that a great organization allows the participant to strive for excellence and rewards that person when they achieve but also allows the person to acknowledge short comings without punishing that person. I sincerely hope that the LA Times regains some of journalistic excellence, but one has to wonder about the on going impact from new media.

When last Saturday's mediocre story ran and then I saw no response from the major bloggers, I found the slow response to be in conflict with "start fast". The response was not "showing up" because no one had taken the time to be "ready". Instead of "competing with the heart and guts", some of these people were "making excuses" for the LA Times.

Well, stand up! Tell the truth! Protect the Team at all times!

To the younger guys who are holding out on being staff writers/journalists - the people who control budgets in these corporations hold out hope on you and attempt to influence you and your discussion with their carrot and stick behavior. Are these individuals holding out on your writing here as an opportunity to test your employability with their company? It would be quite logical, but I am not privy to the contents of those agreements and I do not care to know what those agreements are. Still, those agreements clearly exist because CNN/SI would not be picking up these fan postings and blog postings on their feeds without a prior agreement to do so.

If a journalist or a newspaper wants my attention, then that individual needs to be as "tough and aggressive" against the media's own real-politic as they are in beating up the USC Athletic Department!

How much money is it worth to be sacrificing your own sense of journalistic ethic? The real journalists know better!

Junior ranking budding journalists fresh out of Comp 101 know better at Daily Trojan!

And so the answer from one person was "chill".

No thanks. Have you young guys been in the back rooms of the papers when the news editor kills the lead story because of politics telling him to shut up? Or in the news room when the news director pulls the plug on that investigative report and cuts to the car chase because "uh, it's better for ratings?"? I'm full of respect for real journalists, especially investigative reporters. But, when those reporters intentionally leave out key information from the story, it's disgraceful. No amount of political pandering and recalibation and rewording can get around that fact.

So, to "finish what I started", please "tell the truth!" "Stand Tall; big chest; big eyes!"

Its the Trojan Way.

We are SC

Fight on!

Spirit of Troy Conquest! (via ShaggyOtis)

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Conquest Chronicles' writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Conquest Chronicles' writers or editors.

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