“Moss vikings” – how to break news in twelve characters, by accident
It’s Tuesday night, not even 24 hours after the New England Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football in week 4 of the NFL (a superb defensive and special teams effort culminated in Patriots QB Tom Brady’s 100th career win). Bill Simmons (ESPN writer; twitter: @sportsguy33) accidentally tweets “Moss vikings”, minutes later deleting the tweet and asserting that it was intended as a direct message. This is the new sports media.
Inadvertently breaking the news, Simmons sparked a blaze of stories regarding trade talk of Patriots WR Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings. Quickly it went from a deleted tweet to the online presences of ESPN, NBC Sports, Fox Sports, USA Today, the Boston Herald, the NFL and various other media outlets. Not only is this a sign of the times, but also a display of the direction in which the sports media juggernaut is heading.
Searching for the news upon reading the accidental tweet, all I came across were items regarding the use of images of Moss ‘mooning’ a Green Bay crowd in his previous tenure at the Vikings as part of a US Senator’s electoral campaign. Within hours, the Moss-Vikings trade talk was big news in the NFL. As far as the capabilities of the new media go, these twelve characters which Simmons presented for a measly few minutes on his twitter account could well be one of the simplest and shortest, yet most effective, examples of breaking sports news in recent memory – and we’re told it was an accident!
While the trade talk spread through the online journalistic sphere, the platform for Simmons’ gaffe did not take the news lightly. Twitter trending sees Randy Moss taking up a notable share of “the conversation” at this point in time; #randymoss is trending heavily in his current home in the New England region, his prospective destination in Minnesota, and the scene of his donuts performance on Monday Night Football – Florida. See: Trendsmap #randymoss trending map.
So, Bill Simmons told the NFL and sporting public a rumour which he was meaning to simply tell one person. But, could this start a trend in the way sports news is broken? Would “Lebron heat” have been a sufficient message in the recent NBA free agency period? In a world burdened by masses of information, Twitter is an alternative providing us with messages which have to be straight to the point by their nature. As our attention spans collectively decrease, Simmons may just be onto something.