Moral Obligation vs. Journalistic Responsibility: An analysis of the Edinson Volquez Situation

courtesy of fansided.com

 by: Michael Reistetter

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher, Edinson Volquez, took the mound as the starting pitcher for Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. Millions of viewers across the nation tuned in to see Volquez in action. He contributed a great deal to an eventual 5-4 team win in a whopping 15-inning dual over the New York Mets, all merely a few hours after his father had passed away in the Dominican Republic.

 

But unbeknownst to those watching in frustration because of FOX’s apparent refusal to report the story, Volquez’s wife had explicitly made it clear to Royals General Manager, Dayton Moore, she did not want her husband to be told until after he had been taken out of the game.

As fans learned of the news online, there were false reports made on ESPN and ESPN Deportes that Volquez was indeed told about the death of his father, Daniel Volquez, 63, before the game. So originally, those who turned on the FOX broadcast who wanted to see a potentially choked up Volquez pitch with sheer heart and emotion, found themselves invested in the outcome of a surprising predicament. People oft asked via social networking sites like Twitter throughout the night, “Why aren’t they (FOX) talking about Volquez’s father’s death?”

 

FOX’s Ken Rosenthal stressed the difficulty of the delicate situation him and his staff were dealt, ultimately came down to choosing the unpopular opinion to preserve humane forms of journalistic reporting.

 

“We have a special responsibility,” Rosenthal told the media. “The worst possible outcome in our views was form him to find out from us instead of the proper people. Maybe he knew. Maybe he didn’t. We weren’t going to take the chance we were going to tell him.”

 

In the FOX play-by-play broadcast booth were acclaimed writer Tom Verducci and longtime color-commentators Joe Buck and Harold Reynolds. According to The Washington Post and various other sources reporting on behalf of the MLB, Verducci was the one who suggested they definitely should not report on the death of Volquez’s father until he was removed from the game. Rosenthal abided by this when he made the official on-air announcement during the eighth inning. Reynolds, as a former player, agreed it was the smart decision, noting the television broadcast of the game inside the Royals’ clubhouse could very well be seen by Volquez in between innings.

 

After departing a tied game in the sixth inning, Volquez learned about his father when he entered the clubhouse, surrounded by members of his family.

There has been an understandable perception circulating on the Internet concluding that the Royals staff and personnel were wrong to defy their moral obligation to inform Volquez of his father’s death. But in the end, it was ultimately up to the demands and requests of Volquez’s wife and his family.

The remainder of dissatisfied viewers who felt the announcers for FOX had the journalistic obligation to report the most relevant news stories, have to inherently accept TV as an entirely different medium, operating independently of social media.

“It’s not an easy call when something is so widely out there and we’re not to report it,” Rosenthal said. “(But) I am sure we did the right thing. It was the humane thing to do. It’s not like reporting on a trade. This is a person’s life.”

Volquez immediately returned to the Dominican Republic for his father’s funeral services. After being away from his team for games 2, 3, and 4, Volquez rejoined the Royals, and got the starting nod as originally expected in Game 5. Game 5, yet another wacky and exciting extra-inning affair, would turn out to be the eventual series-clincher for the 2015 World Champion Royals.