Responsible Journalism? (Press names hotel reserved by Favre's family)

This isn’t really a sports thread, even though it does involve Brett Favre and the Vikings/Packers game on November 1 at Lambeau Field.

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Brett Favre’s family is ready for his return to Green Bay if he plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

Favre’s family and friends have booked 25 to 30 rooms at the Midway Motor Lodge near Lambeau Field for the weekend of the Vikings game against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 1. *

The story is on the AP wire, and has been on ESPN Radio pretty much all day. Yes, the fact that his family is reserving rooms for the game is arguably news, in that it adds fuel to the speculative fire about Favre un-retiring to play for the Vikings this year.

The debate is whether the press should have actually named the hotel. If Favre does comes out of retirement to play for the Vikings against the Packers, at Lambeau, this may be the biggest heel turn since Darth Vader left the Jedi. Packer fans will hate on Favre like Dopers on Dick Cheney. That’s normal, and to be expected. Unfortunately, some fans are dumbasses. They may get a notion to go pay Brett’s family a visit to voice their displeasure…or worse. By naming the hotel, the press is practically handing them a roadmap for how to find the guy’s family.

On the other hand, the family stayed at the same hotel in the past, when Favre played for the Packers, and the guy that owns the hotel has made a public statement confirming the story. In theory, someone wishing to do something stupid could have found the name of the hotel elsewhere.

Complicating the issue is that multiple media outlets are running the story, and sports news is a competitive business. Nobody wants to get scooped by the other guys.

In my book, it is irresponsible of the press to actually name the hotel. All they really need for their purposes is the fact that Favre’s family is booking rooms–so maybe Favre is coming back. Knowing how intense the Vikings/Packers rivalry is, and knowing that sometimes people are assholes, I think common sense dictates you consider the non-zero chance of endangering Favre’s family.

I’m an innate Vikings fan now living in Milwaukee. First, you’re assuming that the press should prematurely decide what the consequence of printing facts is. The journalistic tradition in the US since, say the 1930’s, is the idea that the more actual information the better. Second, you’re assuming that there are Packers fans that might take out their hostility against Brett’s family, when they will quite easily know which hotel the Vikings themselves are staying at.

So what are your guidelines for journalists, and what are your guidelines for hotel managers? And why wasn’t your question more about taming unruly fans than it was about noting a target for them?

Both of your assumptions are outlandish. Your question about journalistic ethics is answered by the Bay of Pigs, in which case the New York Times had the info, made a wrong decision, and didn’t publish. Hotel managers have their own code of ethics to answer to, but I would suggest that most of the Green Bay fans knew where the Farve contingent normally stays on game weekends.

So, did journalists screw up? Nope. If there is stupidity at the hotel by drunks? Don’t blame the messenger. If there is life threatening stupidity, we have police forces, which are quite aware of this sort of thing. It’s their job.

Something tells me that in the 4 1/2 months leading up to Nov 1, Favre’s family can find somewhere else to stay, if they feel endangered.

“The more information the better” is the presumption, but yes, the press does take potential consequences into account. For example they don’t print the names of minors in most criminal cases because of the damage it could do to their lives. But I don’t see much potential harm here: I think Oakminster overstated the potential risk to the Favre clan, and there are certainly other hotels. And if it’s an inn near Lambeau, I don’t think withholding the name would have done much good because I expect someone would have figured it out soon.

But why take the chance? There was already an incident recently in the NBA playoffs where a player’s mother had beer poured on her at the arena by opposing fans. The Favre situation is volatile, and something bad could happen. I see no real gain in releasing the name of the hotel here. The story is, as noted in the OP, that apparently his family expects him to be playing for the Vikings. The fact that hotel reservations have been made adds to the story, but the additional fact of the name of the hotel doesn’t really add anything. The family is not ordinarily in the public limelight. They’re private citizens, going on about their business.
And, BTW, thanks to Marley or whichever mod fixed the title for me.

She was at the game, not a hotel. That’s very, very different as far as I’m concerned.

There’s not much of a gain, I agree. Then again, it’s something of an empty story if everybody reports that they’ve got reservations at a hotel near the stadium and then doesn’t name the hotel. If somebody reports that Favre’s family has made these reservations, the next question for the reader is “okay, which hotel?” If that’s left out I think it invites people to call bullshit on the story.

Wasn’t me, but I’m happy to take credit if you like. :smiley:

You’re suggesting that it is too dangerous to have the hotel reservations known, yet the Favres are choosing to:
a) get a job with the Vikings
b) go to the Packer game, in Green Bay

They do not need to do either of these things, yet each of those choices is 10x as “dangerous” as having the reservations known 4 months in advance. As I said before, if the family thinks it’s too dangerous to stay there, they don’t have to.

Only guy playing for the Vikes is Brett. His family are not public figures. Don’t they have some privacy rights? Shouldn’t they be able to enjoy the games without worrying about getting hassled by over-enthused fans? Or having their travel plans disclosed in the national media?

Why is it a legitimate news item to publish the location of Favre’s family?

It strikes me as similar to publishing unlisted phone numbers, or, to be extreme, the phone numbers of abortionists. What legitimate news value do these hold?


The only reason that anybody cares is that Brett is the world’s biggest off season drama queen. Nobody actually cares that the family has reservations somewhere, they care that this is evidence showing which way Mr Drama is leaning in his annual retirement dance. Since they have the reservation exclusively to watch Drama Boy play in the most dramatic game of his drama filled comeback season, they have become part of the story.

The family wants to follow him around and be his loyal fanbase, that’s fine, but when he creates drama, they’re going to be sucked in too.

Right. And that itself has turned into a major waste of time. It would be better if everybody would knock off the Favre tea leaf reading and just wait until he either retires or signs with Minnesota, but that’s not going to happen. In the context of all this ridiculous coverage, I found the hotel thing to be a fairly good indication of what’s going to happen and not out of line with “Favre is flying to Minnesota! Or wait, he didn’t. But Childress is flying to Mississippi! Oh wait, he didn’t. But Favre’s brother says…”

I like Favre, but I’ll admit the drama queen label is one he’s earned through his own conduct. "I’m done. " “No wait, I wanna play”. “Maybe.” “I’m a starter, dammit. Green Bay is mean.” “Hello Jets”. “Goodbye Jets, I’m done. Again” “No wait…not you Jets…I wanna play more. Maybe”.

Still, it’s a slow news cycle for the NFL between the draft and the start of training camp, so he gets plenty of attention. The Vikings are his first choice because I think he mostly wants a chance to stick it to Green Bay. He’s not going to the Bears, they just got Cutler. He’s not insane or known to be a masochist, so Detroit isn’t an option. The Vikes give him two shots at proving whatever it is he wants to proove to Green Bay…and also give him a good chance at one more playoff run.

Maybe I am a little over-sensitive about this.

We went thru something sort of, a little, like it when my nephew was deciding which school to attend. The press just would not leave us alone, and if my nephew (absolutely shameless bragging available on request, and perhaps even if you don’t) wouldn’t commit, they would bother everybody else in the family trying to get a hint. Hell, I was visiting my sister and I even got it.

I realize it is your job and all, but you will find out when everybody else does and not one freaking second before. And leave the rest of the family out of it.


How many hotels are there in Green Bay anyway?



Shodan, I want to know, so go ahead and brag. Tebow? Julio Jones?

Joe Thomas.

It’s possible that I may have mentioned this once or twice before. Or perhaps three times. Or four.

But that’s it. At least since he went to the Pro Bowl. And finished as runner-up for Rookie of the Year.

Don’t want to be excessive about it. :smiley:


Don’t forget the Outland Trophy for best lineman. (I know, it’s a college award, not NFL.)

I have to agree with the OP. The article could have just said “near Lambeau Field” and left it at that. There is no other legitimate journalistic reason to give the name of the motel. Let’s face it, Packer fans have a reputation for being crazy. Crazy people often do crazy things. There’s no reason to make their job easier.

Other than wearing fake cheese on their heads, what reputation do they have? Randy Moss mock-mooned a Packer crowd and got away with it. I don’t remember ever hearing of Packer fans throwing trash on the field or anything, for example. I don’t think we need to evaluate the risk threshholds of various fan bases.

While I don’t think anybody is being endangered here, I do think coverage of this intensity - camping out on people’s lawns to get comments on where Joe Thomas is going to school or what Roger Clemens thinks of being indicted, or ANYTHING Brett Favre is doing - is just unnecessary.