Jay Bilas is a Twitter sensation right now. Tweet the name Jay Bilas and you’re bound to see adoration, links, arguments and more relating to his so-called “takedown” of the NCAA last week.
[tweet https://twitter.com/JayBilas/status/364802482456625152 align='center']
I had an interesting Twitter conversation last week about Bilas’ Twitter exploits.
[tweet https://twitter.com/AndyHutchins/status/364812021121818626 align='center']
[tweet https://twitter.com/AndyHutchins/status/364813622607749120 align='center']
I understood what Andy was saying but it happens all of the time now. I should have known better.
I began thinking about this conversation, and my position on it, when I read Sports Illustrated’s media column by Richard Deitsch. Lost in this story is exactly what my Twitter-friend, Andy Hutchins, quickly pointed out on August 6th. How did Bilas explain to SI how he found out about what he is now being lauded for? Here’s how, in two parts:
While sitting at his kitchen table at his home in Charlotte last Tuesday, 24 hours before a long-awaited trip to France with his wife and teenage daughter, the ESPN college basketball analyst was tipped off by a follower on Twitter about a dubious practice on the Web site ShopNCAASports.com: When consumers typed in the names of prominent college football and basketball players into the search box, the individual jerseys of those players appeared for sale. So Bilas typed in the names of some college athletes into the search box and sent out his findings to his nearly 560,000 followers.
SI.com: How did you first become aware of the NCAA site?
Bilas: On Twitter. Around noon or so on Aug. 6, I had heard and tweeted about the irony of the NCAA and Texas A&M selling a Johnny Manziel jersey with “Football” on it where a last name would be.
“On Twitter” and “I heard”.
Something about reading this from SI challenged me to re-think Andy’s point of view. Why? Because I started doing a Twitter search of Jay Bilas. All the accolades have gone to Bilas. Yes, it’s the nature of Twitter now to not give credit when someone tips you off to something. Bilas is in the media/journalism business. SI is in the media/journalism business. Why not do a little research to the person who gave you the tip?
I get it. I understand why.
Don’t get me wrong. Bilas used his clout to bring attention to the issue. Good for him. But the amount of adoration, calling of Bilas a “hero” or “a genius” on Twitter is nauseating.
This post isn’t about the pay-for-play debate, which is really just two sides YELLING their point of view without really listening. It’s about the power regular, non-media folks have on Twitter. That was me before I ventured into journalism full-time. Fans have the power in their hands to share news or, in this case, potential stories on Twitter themselves.
Did Bilas take the time to publicly acknowledge, or even retweet, the person who tipped him to the NCAA Shop? If he has, I haven’t seen it. If you have, then let me know. But I don’t think he did. He simply took what someone tweeted to him and made it his own. Without acknowledgement. As someone who works in media like Bilas does, that’s wrong. That’s taking advantage of the landscape that is Twitter. Bilas gets the credit, radio/tv interviews at the expense of the person who tweeted it to him:
[tweet https://twitter.com/JHirst941/status/364424585447350272 align='center']
While researching for this post, I came across a similar situation. These two tweeted to or made sure Bilas’ Twitter handle were included,
[tweet https://twitter.com/PS4RS/status/365226029540851714 align='center']
[tweet https://twitter.com/AdamVCE/status/365285755502866432 align='center']
And Bilas tweeted this the next morning:
[tweet https://twitter.com/JayBilas/status/365367967749378049 align='center']
Neither received credit on Bilas’ timeline.
A few noteworthy tweets while I was searching for the original tweet:
- Bilas didn’t find it on his own, but that’s what the public believes.
[tweet https://twitter.com/BillyEmbody/status/365156910430830592 align='center']
[tweet https://twitter.com/alliegrasgreen/status/365560135688527872 align='center']
[tweet https://twitter.com/andrewjnorden/status/364935270761635841 align='center']
- Power of Twitter:
[tweet https://twitter.com/Shuck_Joshua/status/364928325791137795 align='center']
- If Bilas is a journalist, shouldn’t he publicly acknowledge the person who tweeted it to him in the first place?
[tweet https://twitter.com/HampDellinger/status/365171190836363264 align='center']
- This guy is thinking like Andy. I don’t think he got a reply.
[tweet https://twitter.com/dukefan4ever/status/365728377014992896 align='center']
FINAL THOUGHTS: Why did I choose to write about this?
I first saw the tweet “to” Jay Bilas on the 6th after I read Andy’s tweet. I knew I should have favorited it but I didn’t. I spent the better part of Monday reading tweets about Bilas as well as his mentions trying to find the original tip. So much praise heaped on one man who many believe has the power to bring down the NCAA.
Jay Bilas didn’t do this “single-handedly” as many have claimed. He didn’t “win” Twitter that day. Bilas couldn’t have done what he did without a fan telling him about it. That’s the key – that’s “trill”. The power of Twitter as a communication + news-reporting tool is the hands of fans, just as much as it is in the media’s.
[tweet https://twitter.com/truthfromduluth/status/364870789822029825 align='center']
If there’s anything I’ve learned about Twitter (and social media), it will take more than the power of one to do that, despite what the tweet above says.