Friday, August 24, 2012

Lance Armstrong/Good Journalism And Knowing When To Say When.


So Lance Armstrong is giving up without a fight. Seems strange. As this story began breaking virtually every single credible mass media outlet was airing this news with a presumption of guilt. Bottom line is we don't know. Granted that the basic premise of, "If it walks like a duck..." may hold true but until the discovery evidence is made public by means of some sort of official report as in the Joe Paterno case then writers, journalists and even bloggers should follow a very basic rule of good journalism. Allow the story to develop as the facts develop.

Armstrong would have faced massive legal fees should he continue fighting a battle that had about the same odds of him winning as his odds of beating cancer years earlier 50-50. I actually admire Armstrong for tossing in the towel and if he did indeed cheat then justice will be served. As someone that has taken chemotherapy the toll it takes on the individual is sometimes worse than the disease itself which seemingly makes Armstrong's cycling out of step with the normal or expected course of physical requirement to pull off such a dramatic effort as winning the Tour de France seven times without the aid of some type of "help." 

I recently tossed in the towel on my legal battle minus any allegations of drug use of course. A review I had pulled from my site due to reasons fully explained was and continues to be used without my permission. Intellectual copyright and fair use laws come into play and the legal issue itself was one that could have extended well over a year and at a cost of thousands of dollars. Given the fact that the artist in question is a musical footnote at best, I walked away. In the future I could take the notion to copyright the document itself at a cost of $105 dollars and then send the appropriate take down letter to his attorney but copyrights are not given out like door prizes and I am no more inclined to waste $105 dollars then I am $1500 dollars on probability.

The Joe Paterno case along with that of Trayvon Martin had several outspoken jazz musicians speaking out early and both were proven to be wrong later. The image and icon that was Joe Paterno is forever tarnished and while originally portrayed as a "child," Martin was in fact close to six feet tall and weighing roughly two hundred pounds. So was excessive force used? That is for a jury to decide. Public sympathy quickly eroded when marijuana was found in Martin's system and a video was made public by ABC showing trauma to the back of the head of Rodriguez the defendant in this case which added tremendous credibility to his story. Former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin had two well known legal issues with the media playing judge, jury and executioner only to find they were totally wrong on the second case. Innocent till proven guilty. The legal system in this country is flawed and becoming entangled in a court case on any level is not a position anyone should want to find themselves in. Fighting on principal is fine, just be sure you can afford it. You can indeed win a battle and lose a war.

Reporters, writters, and bloggers of any kind have a responsibility to inform on a factual basis allowing the public to draw their own conclusions. Speaking out on the Armstrong issue before discovery evidence is made public is at best irresponsible. The bigger if not more important story that is going virtually unnoticed is Armstrong's dedication to cancer awareness and education. Personally cycling is not my thing. If Armstrong was the motivation for just one individual to make a doctors visit that resulted in early detection of certain cancers that are biologically limited to males then I really don't care if he cheated or not.