• Jul

    Slammed by a Washington Post Beat Writer

    Slammed by a Washington Post Reporter

    As most you probably know I was on WNST’s Bob Haynie show last Friday when I dropped some news about two trades being pulled off the table by the time the Orioles got Orioles owner Peter Angelos’ approval.

    For most people who have been following the Orioles this probably didn’t come as a huge surprise because it’s pretty widely received that Mr. Angelos micromanages almost every decision within the organization. However, it did create quite a stir on several message boards and even on some other sports talk radio.

    Not surprisingly, some people within the media have chosen to slam my credentials or pass me off as some fan on a website due to the fact that they had not heard this news. In fact, the only fairly positive thing I’ve read came from the Sun’s Roch Kubatko who said “I'm not sure how to comment on Tony Pente's remarks on WNST about owner Peter Angelos' influence on two proposed trades that never materialized (how's that for diplomatic?). I don't know Tony's sources and I haven't seen any specific examples.   

    I'm sure he's been told this, but I don't know where the information is coming from. I do know, however, that it's certainly possible given what's happened in this organization in the past.

    I'd just need a little more information.”

    I bolded the part where Roch backs up my integrity. That’s a very fair assessment from another media member if you ask me. Roch doesn’t know who my sources are and didn’t comment positively or negatively, but he did add that it’s certainly possible considering the history in the warehouse. Notice, he didn’t degrade my integrity or the website’s credentials as a news source.

    This brings me to today’s little online chat session with the Washington Post’s Jorge Arangure Jr. Apparently, Mr. Arangure doesn’t share the same respect that Roch has for me and the Hangout since he decided to answer questions about my information with questions about my integrity and credentials to be giving out information on a radio program, rather then address the actual information.

    Let’s start with this from the chat with my comments in bold: “Baltimore, Md.: There's been some buzz on the Orioles Hangout of a special meeting and someone getting canned and Duquette not being happy. Could it be Flanagan, Dempsey, the Crow, Trebs? Do you think there's any truth to this?

    Jorge Arangure Jr.: Nobody is getting canned. The problem with such websites as the ones you mentioned is that people who post information do not have to live up to any journalistic standards, therefore they are not accountable when the information is incorrect. We as reporters would get reprimanded and possibly fired if we printed as much incorrect information as some of these websites have. (Since I don’t know of any other “such websites” besides us that reports news from within the organization, I’ll assume he means the Hangout. He’s absolutely right that we do not have a team of editors to shake down everything we write and report, but considering the we have had full season credentials by the Orioles for four season now, the same credentials the Washington Post has, apparently the Orioles feel differently in their assessment of our professionalism and journalistic standards despite not having the same process.) There was an issue with this last week when someone from a website went on a radio station and said that Angelos had interfered with two possible trades and basically squashed them. (Gee, at least use my name Jorge, it’s not like everyone doesn’t know who you are talking about) Problem was the person didn't have specific information and basically couldn't substantiate his claims. (He’s right, I did not have specifics of the situation and I said that on the air, but I wonder how you are suppose to substantiate a claim like that when it comes from a known source that you are not going to compromise? People like Peter Gammons and Tim Kurkjian reports things all the time that come from sources that they can’t substantiate either.)

    One person in the organization i spoke to said the claim was so ridiculous that they didn't even want to respond to it and give it any type of credibility. (Maybe you should substantiate that Jorge, apparently you only asked one person. Seriously though, what do you expect, Jim Duquette is going to tell the Washington Post, “Sure, it’s completely true. The guy who hired me and signs my checks is making my life miserable by slowing down our baseball process.” I’m not saying Duquette feels that way, but what do you expect them to say on the record.)

    If a person in my position had that type of information (and really as beat reporters you hear these types of rumors all the time) my next move would be to contact other people in the front office and obviously angelos. (So if you hear these rumors “all the time”, do you think you should do your job and really investigate the claims. Sounds like someone enjoys his beat writer gig and is afraid to find the news.) Well obviously that wasn't done by the website person, which falls incredibly short of a legitimate journalistic report. (Perhaps if I was doing an expose he’s absolutely right. However, I’ve been around the block a time or two and I’ve been covering the Orioles for 11 years now, and I know that you will never get someone on the record to say anything bad about the organization. And you know what, I respect them for it. Mr. Angelos should not have to read one of his employees is publicly bad mouthing him, but that doesn’t mean that nuggets of information don’t get out.)

    Sometimes these websites do have correct information, but anyone looking at them for information has to be skeptical as well. (Ok, your opinion, and since I don’t know of any of the other “these websites” I’ll say I’ll disagree with you on the accuracy of our information. Remember, information posted on our message board and information coming from me is two different things. That certainly doesn’t mean a lot of good accurate information isn’t posted on the board, but I agree, you have to be skeptical until a poster proves him/herself.)

    Someone then brought up the Tejada “false linkage” story  which Arangure shot back, “As far as i know the correction was in the paper. And to clarify, it was word usage that was corrected and not information. There was no attempt to deceive the reader or to give false information. Like i've said several times, i stand by the story and say the only regret was that i didn't specify that the team had been publicly linked and tejada had not. really that is not the same as trying to say an even had occured when in fact it had not.” (I’m not even sure what this whole thing is about since I don’t read anything but Dave Sheinin in the Post (BTW, not to get off subject, but Sheinin was the epitome of a great beat writer and has my highest respect), but I find it amusing that he still is claiming my information didn’t happen because “one person in the organization” told him it was “ridiculous.” Man, sign this guy up for a Pulitzer prize with this reporting)

    Further down the chat was this gem, “Washington, D.C.: Maybe when you get off your pedestal you'll realize that sites like the Hangout provide fans with far more team insight than an Orioles writer who is writing for the Post. (Rock on brother, power to the people J )

    The next question was one of my favorites:

    Baltimore, Md.: Hey Jorge, I see you have been taking some shots at the Orioles Hangout Web site, why so? I hope it isn't because they often get the sccop before the Post or even the Sun.

    Jorge Arangure Jr.: Believe me man, i hold no ill will toward anyone who gets information ahead of me. But the fact is that those fan websites shouldn't be taken too seriously. (Why is that? Please show me some information that came from me or the Hangout site, not the message board, that was false? Prove it false buddy. I guess the Orioles must be idiots for taking us seriously since they credentials us like any other media outlet.) I don't deny that sometimes these sites get correct information. And i give them credit for that. But more often these sites have wrong information and they don't hold themselves accountable for that. (Again, please show me when our information was proven false. If I ever am proved wrong, I’ll stand up and take responsibility. I’ve been taking responsibility for my actions since I was 18-years old. By the time I was 20-years old I was hand picked to target enemy forces during Desert Storm. He’s talking about the worng person when he starts talking about taking responsibility. Again, this is another attack on my integrity.) There is no edict on their part to double or triple check or to substantiate sources in order to get information. (How do you know? Do you know how I operate or how the Hangout operates. Yes, we don’t have editors besides ourselves, but please don’t insinuate that I run off with every little bit of information without some type of checks and balances.)

    Here’s a gem from an obvious Hangouter:

    New York, N.Y.: Jorge, I think you need to differentiate between the Hangout's journalistic content and its message board. Obviously the message board is a free for all (though it is pretty well-moderated) and you have to take rumors there with a grain of salt, but the front page reports from Tony, John, Paul, Jon and the others on staff are top notch.

    Jorge Arangure Jr.: I honestly can't speak on that. I don't see those front page reports. People can make the decision for themselves. That's the beauty of it. (So, you’ve never read our reports but you’ve concluded that we have “no edict on their part to double or triple check or to substantiate sources in order to get information” and “often these sites have wrong information and they don't hold themselves accountable for that.” Well that’s quite a conclusion you’ve come to without every reading our stuff.)

    Arangure said this after some guy dissed all fan sites, although he was mainly talking about the message boards, “Like i said, these sites serve a purpose. I'm not sure though that the purpose is to report news.” (Well guess what buddy, I’ve been reporting news both major and minor league for years now and the Orioles enough of our integrity and professionalism to credential us. Not only that, Roch and other sun reporters have quoted me or credited our information, Dave Shenin of your very own Post has called me for opinions on Orioles matters, and several radio stations have had me on to discuss the O’s and their minor leagues. Not too bad for some yahoo who doesn’t have the journalistic integrity to report news in your opinion.)

    Here’s Jorge on unnamed sources “There's no question that in reporting on a beat it is neccessary to use unnamed sources. It's become standard practice and obviously a debatable one to some. But here is where newspapers like the sun and post differ from websites. I have an editor who is asking me who these sources are and whether the information is correct. I have editors who ask me to get confirmation from several other people. I have editors who make sure i get comments from other people and the person or persons being damaged from a negative report. (I don’t have these editors, but we I do have is 11 years of experience talking with people in and out of this organization. I also have a conscience and reputation to consider. I’ve been told a lot of things I never printed or reported on the radio for that very reason, I wasn’t sure, or sure as I could be. It’s possible that for some reason a person I’ve dealt with often would suddenly start to lie to me, but I highly doubt it. That’s what happens when you have mutual respect with a person.) We as reporters would all like to be able to have everyone go on the record for stories, but that's just not possible. People won't speak without anonymity when it comes to delicate topics. I don't know if there is a way around it, unless a newspaper decides they want nothing to do with unnamed sources and therefore don't care if they aren't breaking news. (I agree completely, so why are my unnamed sources so wrong and ridiculous because I don’t run them through an editor?)


    Back on journalistic standards: “People who go there most likely have the understanding that the information should be taken with a grain of salt. But when the information from these sites get delivered outside of the site, such as in a radio report, then it falls into the realm of journalism as it is being disseminated for a broader public (ie serving a journalistic purpose). And if that is the case then the people giving the information on the radio should understand they need to hold themselves to journalistic standards.” (Again, how would you know what standards I use? You don’t even read our stuff, right?)


    Before I finish this, I have to thank the many Hangouters who represented the site magnificently during this chat. I couldn’t be prouder of the community backing us up. To me, this is the true test of what we are doing. Not some jaded view by some beat writer, but from the people who read all forms of information and know our stuff is accurate and journalistically solid.

    Let me finish this off by saying I believe my information was true and accurate. I also want to say that I don’t agree with a lot of people that Mr. Angelos is the devil incarnate. Some people forget his activity with many charities throughout the Baltimore area and the fact that he truly does love Baltimore. Saying that, I believe his management style is not what’s best for the Baltimore Orioles. Too much smoke for there not to be fire when it comes to all these stories of him micromanaging baseball decisions while not being a full time owner (He still has a major Law firm to run). He’s got some great baseball people running his show, and if he develops enough confidence to allow them to do their jobs, I truly believe the Orioles ship can be righted soon.


    Again, thank you to all the Hangouters who have given the site and I support. We will continue to do what we do, and that’s bring you the best Orioles organizational coverage we can.  Now it’s time to walk to the dog.

    Got a comment? You can always start a thread here and talk about it.

    Visit the Orioles Hangout Message Board

Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.