John Harper's unfunny Tweet about Phil Hughes

The Crumbling of the Media Wall

1/27/14 in MLB   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

During yesterday’s NHL Winter Classic between the Rangers and the Devils, John Harper, baseball Sep 25, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA;   New York Yankees starting pitcher Phil Hughes (65) pitches during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports writer for the New York Daily News, made an offhanded and snarky comment on Twitter when he saw the score turning into a Rangers blowout:

‪@NYDNHarper
Just saw the score from the Stadium. Is Phil Hughes pitching or something?

 
He didn’t mention Phil Hughes’s Twitter handle to be sure that the Twins’ righty would see it, but it was re-tweeted. Hughes saw it and responded directly with the following:
 
‪@PhilHughes65 @NYDNHarper comedian and writer. Gotta respect the talent diversity.
 
This is becoming more and more common as writers and members of the so-called “legitimate” media are increasing their presence on social media and showing their real personalities. It’s hard to get a gauge on what a person is really like through their writing especially if that writing is news-related and it’s their job to present it in line with the employer’s preferred mandate. Whereas there was once a wall separating reporters from the public, that wall no longer exists as the person behind the column is throwing him or herself out there for all to see.
 
That’s not always a good thing.
 
In many instances, it’s a negative on how they do their jobs and are perceived. Before the age of saturation in social media, how many of us didn’t speculate as to what the media was saying behind closed doors and in the press box when the masks came off and they could be themselves, giving opinions they weren’t allowed to give in their professions? Once it happened, we saw the rapid-fire response behind the reporting. It has led to more than one Twitter-fight and personal disputes between the participants due to the unprofessionalism involved. Harper’s comment was relatively innocuous; Hughes’s reply was dead-on the money. None of it was necessary or appropriate.
 
After even a small social media disagreement, to think that a reporter can simply wade back and forth between the dimensions of responsive fan and objective news-gatherer is ignoring reality. If Harper and Hughes run across one another, presumably Harper would say he was kidding and Hughes would say forget it. But it’s still there. And out there. And everyone saw it. It’s not like a private disagreement between a player and a writer that happens every day in sports and 90 percent of the time is quashed with an agreement to disagree and a handshake. It was done in front of the world.
 
Harper didn’t respond to Hughes and he didn’t delete the tweet either. The former would have been a mistake; the latter would have made matters worse since it rapidly went viral especially after Hughes retorted as effectively as he did. I’ve had no use for Harper since reading his and Bob Klapisch’s book about the 1992 Mets, “The Worst Team Money Could Buy.” 
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