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The world needs more of Mike Fiers and less of Jessica Mendoza

OK. I get it. People who aren't in the media — the real media — don't necessarily grasp the nuances of the job. Just as I'm no expert on the vagaries of being an attorney.

But we discovered last week that even people in the media don't get it either.

Of course, we can quibble whether Jessica Mendoza, the baseball analyst on ESPN, is a journalist or a double agent, given that she's a special adviser to the Mets. Same with Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees. It screams conflict of interest. Alas, an argument for another day.

Mendoza's dizzying levels of obtuseness illustrated a fundamental lack of understanding of the media's job, especially in a day and age when anonymity stonewalls progress.

Her take on the baseball cheating scandal killed the messenger. Note to Ms. Mendoza: YOU are supposed to be the messenger, too. We need to support each other by encouraging transparency, not criticizing it.

"To go public, it didn't sit well with me," Mendoza said, alluding to former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers, whose bravery spearheaded a true MLB investigation. "It made me sad for the sport that that's how all this got found out. This wasn't something that MLB naturally investigated or that even other teams complained about it because they naturally heard about and then investigations happen. It came from within. It was a player that was a part of it ... it's something you don't do. I totally get telling your future teammates, helping them win, letting people know. But to go public with it and call them out, it's hard to swallow."

I suppose I've heard something dumber in my life. I just can't think of anything else at the moment.

Here's why: Most people either don't know or comprehend the concept of accountability. The real media isn't about throwing it against the wall and seeing what sticks. That's fine for Facebook and Twitter. But for the real media to raise awareness and enact change, somebody's got to attach a name to a set of facts.

That's what Mike Fiers did.

It exposed a scandal.

And Ms. Mendoza chose to criticize the messenger, not the act. Holy Hogwash, Batman.

She belongs in the media no longer. Go be an adviser for the Mets and bathe in all your clubhouse rules and regulations. But don't make the jobs of journalists everywhere harder by poisoning the population, half of which doesn't get it anyway.

I'd like to share how I spend most of my days as an example of what I'm talking about.

I begin weekdays with coffee at Muddy Waters in New London. A large group of us sit in the corner and solve the problems of the world. I get asked often, "don't you ever work?" They don't get that I am working. I meet people, talk to people, find out what's going on and either use news tips for myself or pass them along to our newsroom. Tips come by the dozens, believe me.

Often, however, I'm met with righteous indignation, albeit innocent sometimes. The chorus goes something like, "when is The Day going to tell the REAL story?" Or "who are you protecting?" Or "boy, you guys missed THAT one!"

Common denominator: When it's time for people to channel their inner Mike Fiers — attach a name to a quote — they balk. Fear of retribution mostly. I get it. So the whole story isn't told, or told the way they want.

But we're not the National Enquirer. We're not Facebook. We can't just accuse without corroboration. Sources can point us in the right direction, sure. But until such sources identify themselves, there are limits to what we can report.

I can give you a half-dozen local news stories off the top of my head right now that are one brave person away from exploding. Instead, though, it's our fault for bad reporting. Au contraire. Once again: People don't get how it works, or are fooled into thinking that social media is real media.

My concern here is that Ms. Mendoza's national platform only reinforces such ignorance on the population. We in the media need people willing to come forth. She should know that. Sadly, she doesn't. Or she does — and doesn't care enough.

Either way, her words were shameful. We need more people like Mike Fiers. Not just nationally, but locally. You want your pound of flesh in the paper? Come forth and speak. Mike Fiers enacted some real change. Bet you can, too.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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