Sports Illustrated Owes Explanation for B.J. Raji Story
But if the editors at Sports Illustrated think the story will end there, then they're stunningly ignorant of the way the media works. A report that an athlete tested positive for drugs lives forever. Just because the URL where Sports Illustrated posted the story has gone dead (the story used to be located at this URL) doesn't mean people can't read the story, and it doesn't erase the fact that several newspapers picked up the SI report. How on earth can Sports Illustrated simply pull the story from its web site and think all will be forgotten?
It's quite simple, really: Either Sports Illustrated should tell its readers it stands by its reporting on the Raji story, or it should tell its readers that it no longer stands by its reporting on the Raji story. There's no middle ground here. Sports Illustrated's report was either right or it was wrong. Simply pretending the story doesn't exist and never existed is unacceptable.
And it goes beyond just Tony Pauline, the writer whose byline appeared on the original Sports Illustrated report, and his editors. When SI's top NFL reporter, Peter King, addressed the Raji story, he wrote, "I applaud SI.com for breaking the story, and it deserves to be reported." Does King still applaud SI.com for breaking the story? If he doesn't, he should say so.
Sports Illustrated owes its readers and B.J. Raji an account of exactly how this report ended up on its web site, and exactly why the report was pulled. If the story was wrong, simply deleting it isn't enough.