What went wrong for Nick Taylor & the Tide Times

The Tide Times blog rocked the world with an exclusive story claiming that Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo would be hired by the Alabama Crimson Tide. The story by Nick Taylor was discussed on Paul Finebaum’s radio show, Internet message boards, blogs and at the water cooler.

Taylor fueled talk and drove traffic to his blog by calling into Finebaum’s radio program promoting his story and relationship with persons close to the University’s athletic department.

Now that Izzo won’t be coaching the Crimson Tide, it is a good chance to evaluate what went wrong with the blog, and how the fiasco injured the new media—Internet blogs—a segment of the media gaining in prominence, but lacking in respectability.

Taylor fell victim to two very real problems in his report, 1. the reliance on only one source, and 2. not understanding the limitations of his source’s knowledge. Both of those problems could have been overcome with vigorous editorial supervision. Newspapers have a reputation for getting things correct because newspapers have a bureaucracy designed to challenge the reporter.

Good editors ask hard questions and challenge a writer to verify information. A good editor would’ve asked Taylor how his source knew Izzo would take the Alabama job. From Taylor’s appearances on Finebaum and in Taylor’s own blog posts, it was clear the source was someone connected with Nick Saban’s family. Kudos to Taylor for identifying his source much better than most newspapers or websites. While this source likely would know Izzo’s name was being talked about, how could this source know definitively Izzo would take the job?

This is where a good editor would’ve asked for corroboration. Other sources with more direct knowledge of Izzo and any contacts with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Everyone makes mistakes, but the trick is to make as few as possible. This process doesn’t guarantee you won’t make a mistake, but it does help reduce gigantic errors that ruin your reputation. The next time Taylor reports something, who is going to believe it?

So, what do blogs need to do? Here are some random thoughts on the subject:

Try editorial standards
While you can put anything you want in a newspaper, if you own the paper then you probably are going to exercise care over what appears in it. Why? Because you have a vested economic interest in it. You pay to buy the newsprint. You pay to buy the ink. You pay to run the press. You pay the writers. You pay for distribution.

Simply put, you refrain from doing things that would undermine your financial investment. That is why newspapers have editorial standards. Don’t be fooled and believe papers have standards because of some grand concern for reporting the truth—it is an economic interest with visible economic consequences. You can’t forget newspapers are a business.

The Internet has a much lower cost structure than print. You can start a blog like the Tide Times for free, and with only the cost of sweat equity to create the content. For some there isn’t an incentive to be careful. For some there is an incentive to be reckless because outrageous items get noticed—attracting Internet traffic.

However, you can’t build a reliable business model on smoke and mirrors. The Internet provides a venue to examine gossip, but gossip or rumor must be clearly defined as such. If Taylor had blogged the Izzo story as speculation based on his conversations with people close to Saban, he wouldn’t look so bad today. Why? Because he would’ve been honest about the extent of his knowledge. People like honesty.

And honesty is a good place to focus when you are building a business.

24 Comments

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  1. 1
    Pluto

    The guy got his 15 minutes of fame and the mob was staring at the clock. I honestly think that there needs to be some standards for talk shows also.
    How about screening callers to make sure that they are lucid and credible. I would not allow ANYBODY to pimp their site or blog on air – until it is checked out by the host or producers – to make sure that it is not bogus , profane , or malicious. I would not allow the Caller to pimp their site on a daily basis – even if they passed the above criteria. There has got to be some limits – it gets back to screening.
    Don’t get me started on the chronically stupid callers with no life that call every damn day.

  2. 2
    thetanlovegod

    THANK YOU, PLUTO!!!!!!!

    HIP HIP HOORAY!!!!!

    and the same type thing is going on in reporting why grant is at alabama, cap.

    but i would submit that the credibility gap between newspapers and blogs is shrinking.

    jason blair is the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

    i love those who claim content has nothing to do with the failing newspaper industry.

    i personally stopped purchasing the birmingham news because of the bogus information and the crappy service.

    (see kevin scarbinsky for my latest example: anyone recall his piece claiming grant wasn’t coming to alabama???)

    now some are claiming grant had to have the five days to “tell his players” about the move.

    BULLSHIT!

    how do you know donovan’s staying at florida???

    grant’s at alabama.

    watch to see how many times you see that in print.

  3. 3
    TheIMan

    Nick Taylor’s biggest problem was swinging for the fences his first time at bat. I do admire him sticking to his guns about what he “truly believed” to be true. More in the print media got it wrong than guys like Nick. Finebaum is a jerk too much to callers and will most likely unleash the hounds on Nick. But at least Nick owned up to his mistakes, will Scarbinski?

  4. 4
    Michael Bynum

    Dude…that’s the problem with most of these chowder heads….”What they believe to be true.” It doesn’t matter squat what they believe….it’s WHAT IS TRUE! Everyone wants to be woodward and Bernstein and break the big story. They just don’t want to do the work necessary.
    That’s why the Internet is such a paradise for Goobers’s like us who post.
    Roll whatever…

  5. 5
    TheIMan

    Agreed. I’ve met Woodward and spemt some time with him. He’s as big a jerk as Scarbo. Also, remember, he and Bernstein were “one hit wonders” as well. You can’t site any other ivestigative reporting they did other than Watergate. They just left to write books and post book excerpts in their columns. Internet media has overtaken print media, hopefully journalistic ethics and legwork on stories (at least 2 sources) will catch up.

  6. 6
    jimmyo

    Nick Taylor is a KOOK! Hopefully this hillbilly will retire to the trailer park never to be heard from again. What a douche.

  7. 7
    troy

    the problem with tricky nick was trying to sell advertizing for his upstart blog by sensationalism reporting. having no regard for the facts and relying on someone close to nick saban as if that one thing alone gives this false story validity, is going to sink this leaky ship. day after day of pleading his close was embarrassing to the average listener to pauls show, much less the well informed. honest, my 13 year old laughed at nick. in nicks own words, when izzo is named coach then everyone who laughed at me will owe me an apology and then i’ll get my press credentials to the a-game. nick, the root word for credential is credit and the one thing you DO NOT have, is credit or credibility. leave the writing to people who care about getting the facts not taking short cuts. by the way, coach saban said you were an embarrassment to the alabama journalists in this state. coach saban didn’t remember you when i brought your name up altho he said he hasn’t bought a used car lately.

  8. 8
    TheIman

    Nick is not a KOOK and every person with a blog or works for a newspaper advertises. Nothing wrong with that. It’s what pays the bills and unless the bills are paid, no one reads your words in print media or on the net.

    Nick also has disadvantages most in media don’t…he is handicapped and in a wheelchair.

    As for his efforts, he’s at least trying and relied on his source. He learned a lesson that he needs to corroborate the source. Just like in soccer, more shots at goal means more chances to score. Nick is obviously tight with someone close to the Saban family. Word about Izzo was going around the university offices and, small or large, it was a possiblity.

    Lay off Nick.

  9. 9
    troy

    there is nothing wrong with advertising, but when you create a story and then try to cash in on a radio show knowing you haven’t done due dilegence then that is irresponsible and wrong. i’m sorry nick is disabled. while i’m not in a wheel chair i suffer from continous pain and i’m disabled, so i can sympathize somewhat, but it doesn’t make it ok to throw a story out there and see if it sticks. if anything, nick should have more access than many of his jounalists buddies. hell, pat riley was a possibility.look, i understand you writing a story but to keep on and on when clearly there’s no chance and then even to say on paul’s show that the courtship of GRANT was a ruse and even if he’s hired it won’t be for 2 million only 1 million well…. can people see just how stupid and pathetic it sounds. i’m not wrong but i mite be, and if i am, it’s not by much… and they’re not going pay him like they said.. so i’m rite..maybe….

  10. 10
    Chris

    Let us also not forget that the minute the story was proven wrong Nick Taylor through his source under the bus and blame his source for the snafu. I am not a journalist, and never want to be, but I would think, first of all, that before reporting something like this you would have more than one source. I also would think that if the story is shown to be false that you yourself would take the hit and not blame your source for wrong information. His “source” may have believed what he was telling Nick. You do not blame your lack of effort on getting all the facts confirmed on your source.

    Nick is not a journalist. Nick is a blogger. There is a big difference between a journalist and a blogger. Journalist have standards (most good ones do at least) to meet and they do their best to confirm the stories they report from as many sources as they can find. Journalists do not report a story that can be corroborated by only one person. And Journalist are held accountable for their stories. Bloggers, well they are the average joe who has a comuter and internet connection that want to feel important.

    Nick needs to go back to writing for the Inquirer or something. No one will listen to him from this point forward.

  11. 11
    TheIMan

    You are right. Nick is a blogger which is quickly becoming a columnist position on the Internet.

    Yes he should have done due dilligence to corroborate the info from the source, but remember, Woodward and Bernstein only had one source, the acting head of the FBI after J. Edgar Hoover died. Nick will be a better blogger from this experience.

  12. 12
    David

    The first clue that Nick was a moron was when he referred himself as a journalist then one minute later used “has went” in a sentence (on Finebaum). Every appearance on Finebaum included grammatical trainwrecks. A halfway decent journalist should at least know how to match subject and verb.

  13. 13
    capstonereport

    A couple of things about the comments so far. First, not every blogger is an average joe. Many are experts in their respective fields—which is why blogs gained in popularity.

    Second, in fairness to Nick’s elocution, many people stumble when on the radio. You get nervous, have about 10 different thoughts running through your head…first time I was ever on the radio, I listened to a tape later and I think my voice went up about 2 octaves.

  14. 14
    TheIMan

    Amen Cappy. Most in the “peanut gallery” could not have done any better.

    And F-Bomb painted him into a corner to elicit some of his comments. Everyone knows F-Bomb’s agenda is to stir the pot to drive ratings. Imagine that, he’s doing what he does to “drive traffic to his show, website, and columns”. I believe Nick truly believed Izzo was coming and it was a rumor in the Athletic Department even before Nick spoke on F-Bomb. his sole purpose was not to drive people to his site. He also wanted to demonstrate he is as capable as Scarbinski who also got it wrong and now questions if Anderson would have been a better hire.

    Also, F-Bomb had Nick on his show so much so he could say the Izzo hire broke on his show if it happened, but he put forth plausible deniability by trashing Nick at the same time. Kind of like how he straddles the Bama-Auburn fence to stir the pot and attract listeners.

  15. 16
    Dra

    Consider for a moment that Izzo had a deal to come to Bama. The media (Nick) gets the scoup and “has to be the man” and announces to the world, “Done deal!”. Izzo’s intentions are found out and this puts him in a bad situation, so he backs out quietly.
    Nick, in his desire to “BE THE MAN” has (if the story were true) cost Alabama a great coach and destroyed his own credibilty at once. Of coarse, we fans share the blame because “We have to know things before they even happen” which in turn interferes with whatever wheels are turning.
    So, let’s not crucify Nick for being wrong. We don’t know if Izzo had intentions or not. And may never.

  16. 17
    BLEEDIN_CRIMSON

    Okay, stop the presses. This is stinkin hilarious.

    NICK TAYLOR DOES NOT EXIST. Taylor is the made-up pseudonym by a frequent poster on Tide Sports forum who was looking to have a little fun and create a little controversy by creating a “new blog” with the explicit purpose of promoting this ‘secret insider source’ and himself via this ‘Izzo to Alabama’ theory. Fortunately for him, and unfortunately for the rest of us, we bought it hook, line and sinker while he was rollin’ on the floor laughing his arse off. The story and news of the blog spread like wildfire overnight, across the US even and brought ‘Nick Taylor’ overnight fame. Fame that this poster never anticipated and really couldn’t believe.

    He was finally out-ed over a week ago and confessed that it was all made up, yet no one seems willing to let it die. It just keeps on going and going, like that little pink rabbit — once started you just can’t kill the durn thing.

    This shows two things in remarkable clarity: 1)never believe what you hear on the internet without knowing and trusting the source and 2) never post anything to the internet (via a blog, etc) that you don’t want people to rely upon as fact or truth. We’re just that gullible and we’ll fall for anything that attracts our attention.

    We were all pulled in by good ol’ Nick’s creativity, ingenuity, and deception(obviously some more than others), so enjoy the laugh, learn from the past, and move on smarter than before. There are tons of con men out there ready, willing, and able to be even more devious and more unscrupulous with their frauds in order to take advantage of our desire to believe.

    Nick had his fun, I personally have had no few belly rolls of my own since the reveal, and hopefully we’ll all get a chuckle now that it is over and done.

  17. 19
    TheIman

    No I am not Nick Taylor and Nick Taylor does exist. He is a wheelchair bound man seen at many of the Bama basketball and football games. I am actually a long time and frequent poster in the TideSports Forums under a different name. I took the name TheIman starting with the MyFoxFinebaum.com chatango chat room. The other Iman goes by FinebaumsIman on the chat. I took the name after Bama won the past Iron Bowl. The old Iman can have the title back and I will relinquish my screen name when Auburn wins another Iron Bowl, which as long as Saban is coach will be a while.

    I believe some of ths ascertions here that Nick Taylor was trying to drive traffic to his site and enhance his credibility are true. But so is every other blogger and yes, radio show host (Finebaum). I belive Finebaum is a hypocrite, but it’s what pays his bills when he straddles the fence.

    As for TideSports, I espouse the same opinions of Nick Taylor there, just under my other name (which I’ve had on TideSports since October of 2006).

  18. 21
    freelancewriter

    Bleddin Crimson,

    One thing I can assure you of, Nick Taylor does exist.

    However, he has zero credibility.

    As late as Thursday of the week Grant was hired he was calling people that cover Alabama sports telling them that “Grant never met with Saban.”

    That assurance was also from his “source,” which in a round about way he says is Nick Saban, Jr.

    This is the same blog group that last year, by fraudulent means, used another groups name as their “media affiliation” to gain a press pass and access to the SEC Media Days.

    Believe you me, if you were to ask Doug Walker about Taylor the advice would be akin to “avoid him like the plague.”

    His story fell apart from the beginning – claiming a relative of Saban’s told him there was a contract on Izzo’s desk. What makes this even more hilarious is under his description of the story it would have Coach Saban talking about the basketball coaching job just days before NSD.

    Think about that for just a minute…

    Do you honestly even begin to believe Coach Saban would be talking about, much less thinking about, the basketball coaching position right before NSD?

    I could continue. But, if that isn’t enough to put this situation in the right light, I don’t know what could do better.

  19. 22
    capstonereport

    The Tide Times folks used another group’s name to get access to SEC Media Days?

    Yikes.

    All I had to do was ask in my own name.

  20. 23
    LW09

    Nick Taylor only said he was close to the Saban’s because he literally stalked Saban’s daughter on facebook. She’s one of my best friends and I’ve seen the messages. He claimed that he was in a secret fraternity called the shriners, and that nick saban and his dad are in it too. (Mr. Saban denied this.) he went on about how they have a true friendship together and he continued sending her creepy messages. He really sent her nonsense messages and crap about how he knows her dad. He does not. Even a friend of nick taylor mesaged kristen asking her if she said anyhong to nick about a ” coaching search” and that she needs to get her facts straight because if they’re wrong it will “hurt nick badly” and since they “have a valued friendship” he knows she wouldn’t hurt him. Kristen literally freaked out. She has no idea what this man was talking about and she does not have a friendship with her. She blocked mr. Taylor months ago and he made another facebook and contacted her which she blocked again, and he tried again, and she continues to block. The family is very offended by his story on finebaum. Nick Taylor had issues that we cannot make fun of, but still no one should be that screwed up to go and do that to them. It’s very creepy. I’m afraid he did it bcause kristen refused to speak to him, and she still has the messages.

  21. 24
    capstonereport

    Thanks for sharing that. There are a couple of details in your post that I had heard before from others, but not put together the way you shared it.

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