Tiger Woods has released a revealing statement this morning on his web site, likely prompted by this:
“I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart,” Woods said on his Web site. “I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.
“Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means. For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives. The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious. Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.
“But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don’t share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one’s own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.
“Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it’s difficult.
“I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology.”
There is a lot in here, but the first paragraph is earth-shattering. For a man who owns a yacht he christened “Privacy”, the lines “I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family” are by far the most personal and — well, how else to say it? — revealing. He’s basically admitting that some of the most salacious rumors reported by the tabloid media are true, or that there is enough truth in them that Woods feels like he has to try to get out in front of the story.
That Woods likely cheated on his wife shouldn’t come as a great shock.
He’s possibly the most well-known athletic figure in the world, not unlike Michael Jordan, who has his own extramarital problems with a woman named Karla Knafel.
But is it news?
To someone in the working media like myself, that has been the real question surrounding this story. What is and isn’t news, or maybe more technically, what is and isn’t journalism?
And it begats another question (at least it does to me): is there a difference, maybe even a schism now, of what is journalism, and what is media? You hear the term tossed around so much now, that there’s so much “media” out there. And that’s true. It is an interesting time to be reporter, and what is news and what is information isn’t so much differentiated anymore. With the Internet, blogs, talk radio, etc. etc. etc., there are so many avenues available to the release of information that it is hard to know what is responsible reporting and what is not.
In the end, it simply may not matter so much, and at the same time, it may be changing. Let’s face it — TMZ.com and the National Enquirer appear to have been, for lack of a better word, right about their information. It looks like stories of Woods’ infidelity have been validated by the first paragraph of his statement.
But does that mean we have a right to know about it? It’s been clear that ESPN and the Associated Press have gone about reporting the Woods’ accident story much differently than other outlets, even though ESPN Radio, in particular Colin Cowherd, was more than willing to speculate on Woods’ cheating on Day 1. But Woods’ words today may have negated that speculation.
So where is media and journalism headed? It started out, years and years ago, in the same direction, but as this case and its coverage shows, there are taking divergent paths. The question is whether the two converge again, and whether that is good or bad, no matter whether it is right or wrong.