Eric Bischoff has covered the business of “covering the wrestling business.” On the latest episode of Strictly Business, an AdFreeShows.com exclusive series, the topic at hand is pro wrestling journalism and co-host Jon Alba gets into the dirty details of the “dirt sheets.” He starts off the topic by asking Eric “can wrestling journalism exist within the space, the arena, of professional wrestling and if so, how should it exist?”
“Yes it can, because it does, in some cases,” Eric said. “I think those that actually do a legitimate job at covering wrestling are not the most well known, haven’t been around the longest. There’s two ends of the spectrum, those that just like to gossip and project and express themselves, by calling it ‘news’ or ‘journalism’ and those that actually practice it. I think Dave Meltzer falls in the previous category.”
Eric makes clear that he isn’t a fan of Meltzer’s work and method of reporting.
“He’s a social misfit fanboy wrapped up and camoflauged as a wrestling journalist. He’s wrong as often as he’s right and more importantly than that, Dave Meltzer’s an advocate for anybody that will pet him and give him a cookie,” he said, noting that he thinks Meltzer is an advocate for AEW. Bischoff says that’s okay to do, but one should define themselves as that instead.
“There’s no journalistic standards or integrity in anything Dave Meltzer does,” Eric added. He names Jason Powell, Mike Johnson and Wade Keller as established names to be trusted and gives his reasons.
“If a story in the past (while I was active in the business, not as a podcaster), but if a story broke that involved me, I would get a call from Mike Johnson to confirm or deny, I would get a call from Jason Powell, and I’m talking about ten, 15 years ago to confirm or deny so then at least I’d had an opportunity since I was involved in a story to share my perspective and then it was up to them to decide what to do with it. Those were the only three guys in the wrestling coverage business that have ever reached out to me to confirm or deny or get clarificiation for a news story,” he said.
“Were you someone that was willing to go on the record in that situation?” Jon asked.
“Even in a corporate setting?”
“Even in a corporate setting. Now there were times admittedly, if it was a legal situation, obviously, I’m not able to comment but I would explain that. If it was internal propriety financial business or in any way, shape or form, propriety business or information that I was contractually not able to discuss, I would explain that. And then whatever is written is written, but when people who just lie, flat out fuckin’ lie and deceive their readers and the audience into thinking that they’re journalists which implies a certain level of integrity, fact-checking, source-checking, that type of thing. When you call yourself a journalist but you practice no journalistic integrity whatsoever and operate zero journalistic guidelines, you’re not a journalist you’re a dirt-sheet fanboy with an agenda and the three aforementioned individuals that we were discussing are the guys that covered the business had the professionalism to reach out to confirm or deny and then made their decisions accordingly.”
Can editorial content exist while also providing hard news?
“Absolutely, just be clear to define what you’re doing,” Eric said. “Don’t editorialize in the camoflauge of reporting and journalism. Don’t insert your editorial opinions and emotions and ‘fanboy-itis’ and disguise it as reporting. That’s just fraud.”
Later on, Eric does state that he believes there is more a now an overall more concentrated effort to report news accurately when covering wrestling.
“I think Dave Meltzer is now in the minority. I think a lot of people do their best to cover wrestling in a professional manner,” he said.
Eric goes on to mention some news sites that he thinks are reputable, both of which happen to be aggregate websites. (Author note: For definition, “aggregates” are websites that curate wrestling news from newsletters and reports – we at WrestleZone mostly fall under the category as “aggregate”) Jon Alba notes how sometimes consuming media content from aggregates can become a slippery slope when it comes to context and interpretation, but Eric further makes a distinction as to why he respects certain aggregate websites.
“They make it clear. ‘From this website,’ or ‘from this newsletter,’ or whatever. They make it clear that this is not their story, this is not their opinon, they are not reporting it as fact, then it’s up to the reader or the consumer to decide whether they want give any validity to that particular story or article.”
If you enjoy this conversation, you can listen to it in its entirity on AdFreeShows.com.
(Transcription credit should go to @DominicDeAngelo of WrestleZone)