Journalist Tweeting Badly

When thinking about the way Twitter and professional sports relate to each other, a lot of focus is put on athlete tweeting. There are plenty of examples of professional athletes tweeting poorly. My last post mentioned Delonte West and Sean Locklear in particular, while more well-known examples include former Kansas City Chief running back Larry Johnson and San Diego Charger Antonio Cromartie. However, little attention is given to those who cover the athletes. Little attention is paid to beat writers.

Tony Grossi

For former Cleveland Browns beat writer Tony Grossi, less attention would probably be a good thing right about now. Grossi writes for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and until today, served as the Cleveland Browns beat writer for the paper. However, last week, Grossi send an inadvertent tweet pertaining to Browns owner Randy Lerner that said “He is a pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world.” Grossi later deleted the tweet, but as is usually the case, his action was too little too late.

Grossi later apologized for the tweet in a video podcast, saying “Last night there was a comment attributed to me on my Twitter account.  It was inadvertent, it was inappropriate, and I do apologize for it.  I’ve reached out to Randy Lerner to apologize to him for it and we’ll just leave it at that. It was inappropriate and not meant to be tweeted, but it was inappropriate nonetheless.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer also apologized on behalf of Grossi, stating on their website, “Last night, Plain Dealer Browns beat reporter Tony Grossi made an inadvertent, inappropriate post to Twitter concerning Browns owner Randy Lerner.  Grossi has reached out to Lerner to apologize.  The Plain Dealer also apologizes.”

So how did this tweet happen? The most likely scenario is that Grossi was attempting to direct message a follower on Twitter. A direct message on Twitter is a personal tweet that only the person addressed in the message can read. However, if addressed incorrectly, or not at all, the tweet will become public, which is seemingly what happened to Grossi, who has over 15,000 followers on Twitter. Grossi isn’t the first journalist to make this mistake. The last well-known incident of this type occurred in in October of 2010 when Bill Simmons, the popular ESPN columnist, sent out a tweet that simply read “moss vikings”. Simmons quickly sent another tweet that read “Sorry that last tweet was supposed to be a DM. Rumors swirling about a Pats-Minny trade for Randy Moss.” However, soon after the initial tweet, rumors began to fly that Randy Moss, then a WR for the New England Patriots, was being traded to the Minnesota Vikings. Although the rumor was denied by all involved parties, a few days later, the trade went through.

For Simmons, the penalty was undetectable. He most likely got a scolding about knowing how to send direct messages on Twitter, and the incident probably prompted ESPN to send an email to all employees about the dangers of using the service incorrectly. For Grossi, the penalty was much higher. While he is still currently employed, he’ll no longer get to cover the Browns.

On second thought, maybe the punishment for Grossi is undetectable too.

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1 Comment

  1. Twitter = an electronic magnifying glass for stupidity.


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