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Michael Rand’s thoughtful second thoughts

A bad sports tip turns into a good learning experience.
By David Brauer

When I was doing talk radio, I realized pretty quickly the odds were stacked against me because I just couldn’t pull off the whole omniscience thing. I couldn’t construct a fantasy universe where my beliefs were always right, and — my talent being what it is — there were plenty of opportunities to admit when I was wrong.

Those gray areas drove me back to my first love, writing, where somehow I now spend a lot of my time vetting the foibles of others in my profession. There are times, when pontificating, that I feel like I’m drifting nauseatingly toward the sort of talk radio certainty I hate. However — my talent being what it is — I make enough mistakes to forever disabuse me of being master of anything.

This is all a flesh-rending setup to say I am a huge fan of other journalists who display the guts and grace to openly reflect on their missteps. Yesterday, I had some fun with local sports guys who took the hook on some bad info about Cretin-Derham Hall lineman Seantrel Henderson’s college choice. It was the second time in a week that single-source info had gotten the local media into trouble, so it was irresistible. Plus, it’s spurred a great discussion of Twitter as a rough draft — or more — of journalism.

Thursday morning, the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand, the editor who set off the goose chase on the Minneapolis side of the river, posts a recap, with regrets, of how his decision-making went down. I won’t distill it; just read it. But it is a model of openness, and honesty.

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The web’s non-stop news cycle gives all of us more chances to make mistakes. But it also gives us more opportunity to disclose, and discuss, and reconsider. None of us are omniscient, but we’re human, and we’re far more likely to trust those who admit it.