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The Psychology of Leaking

Back in the fall of 2006, when this blog was just a few months old, I wrote an entry about uniform and logo leaks. Almost everything I wrote in that piece still holds today, so go ahead and read it (I just re-read it myself and thought, “Hey, that’s not bad”). But in light of the Clippers leaks that have come my way in recent days, I want to explore a leak-related topic that didn’t come up in that 2006 piece: Why do people choose to leak sensitive information in the first place?

First, some quick background: Obviously, much of the content I write about on this website begins with reader contributions (for which I’m grateful, of course). I assume those of you who send photos, links, and other content my way do so because you enjoy some combination of the following: giving something back to the site; seeing your name in print; feeling important; feeling like you’re part of a participatory community; sharing what you know and/or what you’ve seen; advancing the state of the uni-verse; sucking up to me; and so on. This all seems pretty intuitive and straightforward, right?

But leakers are different. Leakers don’t get to see their names in print, for starters, because they insist on anonymity. Some of them are taking a personal or professional risk by feeding me information, yet they do it anyway. Why is that? After all, the leaked info will eventually see the light of day in due course. Why take the risks associated with sending it to me?

The answers, I’ve found, include the following:

1. Some people, once entrusted with a secret, are almost constitutionally incapable of keeping it. They have to tell someone. And when it comes to uni-related secrets, that someone is often me.

2. If sending in a Ticker contribution makes people feel a bit important, leaking a design makes them feel really important, like they’re engaged in some sort of high-level espionage or something.

3. Some leakers fit the classic clichéd profile of the disgruntled former employee. These are people who left a team, a league, or a uniform manufacturer on bad terms and are using leaking as a form of revenge.

4. Some people in the industry have axes to grind. Several retailers, for example, have leaked things to me specifically because they resented the terms under which they had to order or carry certain merchandise lines. For these people, leaking is essentially a form of dissent, protest, or even civil disobedience.

5. On two occasions I’ve received leaks from people who basically said, “I work for Team X, and we’re supposed to go with this new design next season. As you can see, it’s awful, and I’m really dreading the whole thing. Maybe if you blog about it and say how bad it is, you can shame them into changing their minds.” (No, it didn’t work either time.)

6. Some people think the culture of calculated secrecy and corporate machinations associated with uniform designs is bullshit, and they enjoy fucking with that culture because they think it deserves to be fucked with.

7. Update: I didn’t initially include this, but commenter Vee63 astutely points out something I had overlooked: Some people are driven by an innate desire to be first — the first to provide information, the first to be in touch with me about a certain design, etc. This is certainly related to the inability to keep a secret and the desire to feel important, but I think it’s distinct enough to deserve its own category.

I think those are the major types.

By coincidence, I recently met another writer who’s often on the receiving end of leaks: Jim Romensko. If you work in media or journalism, you probably know who he is. For everyone else, Romenesko has made a name for himself over the past several decades by becoming the go-to source for news and information about the media/journalism world. Much of the information on his eponymous website is contributed — sometimes by people just sharing interesting links, but also by people who leak him inside info, office memos, and so on. In many ways, he and I are very similar: We’ve each become the hub for a very specific kind of niche-oriented content, some of which is rather sensitive and occasionally explosive.

I’ve been a fan of Romenesko’s work since the 1990s, plus we’re both former zine publishers. He and I have corresponded periodically over the years, but we’d never met in person until two Saturdays ago, when we both attended a Wisconsin museum reception:

I've been a fan of media critic extraordinaire Jim Romenesko for about 20 years but had never met him until today. Long…

Posted by Paul Lukas on Saturday, April 11, 2015

Great guy, and we got along quite well, so the other day I asked if he’d like to share some thoughts about leaks and leakers. He graciously obliged, as follows:

I relied on leakers when I wrote a press column (“Pressroom Confidential”) for Milwaukee Magazine in the 1980s and 1990. Jealousy, score-settling, and a desire to embarrass the competition seemed to be the primary reasons for leaking to me at that time. TV newsroom journalists loved to pass along stories about behavior of the well-paid anchors with bloated egos. For example, one tipster at ABC affiliate WISN-TV told me how the 10 p.m. co-anchors hated each other (of course, it was always happy-talk when the cameras were on), and that the female anchor cranked up her chair to sit just a bit higher than her male counterpart. He allegedly responded by raising his chair to sit above her. (Our illustration had the two sitting WAY above the anchor desk.)

Today, my leakers are angry about layoffs, corporate hypocrisy, and mismanagement. (The leak intended to embarrass a colleague — the kind I used to get — is now a rare bird.) And leakers are VERY afraid of getting caught. Many who contact me refuse to communicate via email — even from personal accounts — and insist on using the phone. Some who do pass along information in email insist that I not quote them verbatim for fear that someone will recognize a term or a phrase they use. I’ve had at least one instance where a whistleblower had a change of heart after passing along a very good memo out of fear that he’d get caught and fired. Fear is definitely in the air, and I try to go out of my way to assure leakers that I’ll protect them.

The types break down like this:

The executive leaker: This is the news executive who leaks his own memos. This started happening several years ago when editors and publishers came to realize that anything they published internally would probably be sent to me. At least one executive leaker has admitted to me that he writes his internal memos for my national journalism audience.

The “Can you believe this shit?” leaker: I hear more and more from this type of leaker — a person who is disgusted by management’s actions. Examples include the newspaper company CEO who gives employees a $1.25 vending machine token for their birthdays; the newspaper that turns off power in the middle of the day to save money; and the publisher who bans swearing in the newsroom.

The “Somebody has to tell Romenesko” leaker: This is when everybody knows about a wrongdoing or injustice, but everybody’s afraid to leak it … until one brave soul blows the whistle. This was the case when The State’s publisher told its sports columnist he couldn’t write about South Carolina football or coach Steve Spurrier. There were newsroom petitions protesting this (nobody forwarded them to me), and there were newsroom meetings (I wasn’t told about them). Finally — several months after the publisher’s edict came down — someone told me about it. (The end result: the columnist was again allowed to write about SC football.)

Fascinating, right? Some of the dynamics for Romenesko are a little different than for me (Romenesko is a journalist and so are his leakers, for example, so he has a certain peer-to-peer commonality with his sources that I don’t often have with mine), but many of the other dynamics are very similar.

Finally, it’s worth noting that while leaks can be exciting, they don’t necessarily make my life easier. For starters, my default position is to view each purported leak suspiciously — I won’t go public with anything until I can confirm that the content and source are legitimate. Just two nights ago, in fact, someone tried to hoax me by sending what he claimed to be a leak of the upcoming 76ers redesign. It only took a few minutes for me to figure out that the materials he sent me were bogus, but sometimes it’s trickier. (And sometimes I’m too suspicious: My initial assessment of the first round of Clippers leaks, for example, was that the images were phonies. It wasn’t until a month later that I realized they were legit.)

Also, leaks can create hassles. On one occasion, leaked info led to a sportswear company threatening to sue me; on another, leaked info prompted a league to sic an “investigator” on league employees who had emailed with me.

Also-also, leaks have created a culture of expectation and entitlement among fans and readers, many of whom routinely email or tweet at me to ask, “Any good inside info about my favorite team? Any leaks you can share with me?” (After fielding hundreds of such queries in recent years, I now just respond with a link to this page.)

Still, leaks and leakers make the world — and my world — a more interesting place. Here’s hoping they keep coming in every now and then.

•  •  •  •  •

Baseball News: Slump-buster move last night by the Brewers, who wore their BP jerseys for their game against the Reds (and lost anyway, giving up 16 runs!). I’m all for superstitions and rituals, but suiting up like it’s a spring training game is never a good idea. ”¦ Cross-dressing alert: Reds utility man Kristopher Negron is a big Golden State Warriors fan and wore Chris Mullin socks under his game socks the other day (from Matt O’Bryant). ”¦ As some of you may know, the Phillies were briefly renamed as the Blue Jays in the early 1940s. Here’s a giveaway cap from that period (nice find from Frank Bitzer). ”¦ Gorgeous striped stirrups last night for Oklahoma State (from Seth Leonard). ”¦ Tulane wore bright blue uniforms yesterday to promote prostate cancer awareness. Also, note the clashing logo creep — Rawlings on the jerseys, Nike on the socks. ”¦ The Newton Royals — that’s an amateur team in Massachusetts — have some bizarro helmets (from Cory Enayat). ”¦ The Hunter Pence pants-above-the-knee look appears to be catching on with the youth. ”¦ Here’s something you don’t often see: a team logo with an exclamation point. ”¦ Los Osos High in California wear a modified White Sox beach blanket template, complete with a Sox-style silhouetted batter on the cap (from Hugh McBride). ”¦ Whoa, look at the size of the uni numbers on these U. of Miami throwbacks.

NFL News: Here’s a breakdown of the NFL’s top-selling jerseys. ”¦ Adrian Peterson’s agent stirred the pot the other day by wearing a Buccaneers cap. ”¦ The Packers will retire Brett Favre’s number on Thanksgiving (thanks, Brinke). ”¦ Someone has ranked all 32 NFL draft caps. ”¦ NFL schedule notes with possible uni-related implications: Tennessee’s sked page shows home games in white, and Green Bay’s shows a 1980s wordmark.

College Football News: Michigan State’s new uniforms will be displayed this Saturday as part of the spring game festivities. ”¦ New ACC patches for Viginia Tech (from Andrew Cosentino). ”¦ Jason Hillyer picked up this Ohio State bike for his five-year-old kid at a local Goodwill for only $12 — score! ”¦ Clint Richardson has broken down all the details of what appears to be the new Auburn uniforms.

Hockey News: Negotiations are beginning to see who will be the uniform outfitter for next year’s World Cup of Hockey. Key quote: “Several NHL sponsors [said] they expect the league to use the World Cup of Hockey to trial on-uniform advertising.” ”¦ If Vegas gets an NHL expansion franchise, its colors will apparently be black, gold, and grey (from Nathan Foss). ”¦ Preds goalie Pekka Rinne wears a baseball batting glove, or something similar to that, under his catching mitt (from @defreeuw83).

NBA News: 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil seems to be hinting that the team will soon have a sleeved alternate. ”¦ With changes looming, here’s a look at Clippers logo history. ”¦ The Hawks had to pull their Game 1 giveaway T-shirts because they misspelled one player’s name and omitted another’s (from Yusuke Toyoda).

Soccer News: “I run a blog that focuses on the shirt numbers worn in soccer,” says Dennis Hurley. “The most recent post examines the unusual numbering employed by Liverpool when they dominated in England in the 1970s and ’80s. It differed a lot from the traditional numbering system as, often, players would switch positions but retain their old number.” ”¦ “Norway’s women’s national soccer team will be playing in the upcoming Women’s World Cup in unisex jerseys because Nike hasn’t been able to provide women’s cut uniforms in the necessary time frame,” says Kary Klismet. Good thing Norway’s national colors don’t include midnight green, or else they’d be screwed even worse, eh? ”¦ Liverpool has renewed its jersey advertising deal with Standard Chartered Bank. ”¦ “Aston Villa’s 19-year-old Jack Grealish caught everyone’s eye last weekend with his breakout performance and his tiny kid-sized shinguards,” says Yusuke Toyoda.

Grab Bag: I see that two entire readers have ordered the newly available Uni Watch watch, which is approximately one more than I expected. If those two people are reading this, please send photos when you receive your watch! ”¦ Pantone has introduced its first new color in three years (from Paul Lee). ”¦ Speaking of colors, my lifelong love of the color green has now been validated by science! So if you favor orange or blue or one of those other lesser colors, that’s like believing in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus (and loving purple is akin to climate change denial, but I didn’t need scientists to tell me that.) ”¦ JetBlue’s old uniforms have been upcycled into carry-on bags. ”¦ Russia’s tourism ministry is in the market for a new logo. ”¦ The Maryland and Johns Hopkins lacrosse teams will now be playing for a crab-shaped rivalry trophy (from Eli Davis). ”¦ Professional snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan played in his socks at the world championships yesterday (from Paddy Fleming). ”¦ After years of wearing Adidas, Cuban president Fidel Castro was recently spotted wearing Puma (from Tim Stackhouse). ”¦ The guy who designed Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign logo is the latest person to weigh in on Hillary Clinton’s campaign logo. ”¦ You know how the car brand Audi has a logo featuring four rings? Here’s what they stand for. ”¦ F1 driver Lewis Hamilton has switched helmet suppliers.

Comments (84)

    I’m guessing you don’t get the link that tech companies and politicians use to get the news cycle goign?

    Here in Dee Cee, leaking has long been a way of life. Some of it good and needed, i.e.; our National Spy Agency getting caught spying on friend and foe alike (as in, c’mon people lets get our priorities straight. I need proof of New England’s perennial cheating. Is that so hard?)

    In the Uni-verse… big uni-makers, sports teams and media today perform a very American version of Kabuki theater of what in another era would be called a “Conference of the Press” (Thanks P.T. Barnum) Held specifically for presenting what they want, and only what they want, to speak about.

    The whole point of this jibber-jabber is to create brand awareness (in the most positive light). Nothing more. My gripe is that for the most part, they as a whole really suck at this.

    I always thought that it was so because the product they were presenting was… well, not very good. Not really, NIKE products have global reach and offer great designs in sportswear, the finest work that an army of 5$ a day female Cambodian workers can produce.

    I think it is where sports team marketing and big Uni-makers collide that the wheels come flying off faster than those crappy heat transfer numbers people shill out $100 dollars for at the ballpark.

    Really weird. It’s like an evil Reese’s Peanut butter cup or an evil 7up “you hate it, it hates you”.

    The whole point of this jibber-jabber is to create brand awareness (in the most positive light).

    No offense, but those of you who say stuff like this, um, don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Having spent years dealing with team and league executives, I can assure you that they take leaks *very* seriously. Personally, I think this seriousness is misplaced, but that’s another question.

    Yeah, my point was that you don’t seem like the type that the manufacturers or leagues would choose to drop their breadcrumbs knowing you’d faithfully do their bidding.

    I appreciate that you are the Han Solo of the Uni-verse.

    The point I was making Paul was to say that “leaks” in the sporting world occur with annoying regularity, no matter how much team and league execs put the squeeze on it. Especially when it involves multiple parties (NIKE, NFL, etc.) It is like leaks have become the norm rather than the exception in this arena.

    I agree this is misplaced and would be easy to solve as you had mentioned in your blog.

    No offense taken Paul, but the marketing of sports and sports teams in general really do need a new approach to solving this problem.

    Because the current method is not working.

    I thought that another possibility is that, after the debacle that is New Coke, companies have learned that focus groups aren’t always right or truly representative of the general public’s tastes and whims. Therefore, using logos uniforms as an example, perhaps they would intentionally “leak” the rough draft or copy to gauge public opinion, in particular uni-lovers who would more likely than not buy new jerseys knowing that eventually their “leak” would end up here on UniWatch or on’s forum. They then could adjust their logo or just stick to their guns–and stick it to fans and critics.

    Another possibility is that pieces of information are released to several parties within a sporting apparel company knowing that there’s a mole or a leaker so as to find out who’s leaking what to whom.

    While I’m not usually a fan of pullover baseball jerseys, that Tulane get-up is swell.

    Paul, that was a fascinating read. As a Cleveland fan, I have been especially interested in the leaks lately.

    Re: schedule colors


    See the browns schedule on the team website. Home dates in orange. A possible indicator that the home unis will be the orange? As far as I know the decision hasn’t been made yet between the orange and brown for the home/alternate.

    Possibly the draft dais uniform will be the one?

    If they want to wear all nine jersey/pant combos this year, here’s what I’d suggest*:
    X1 v.Was white over white
    X2 v.Buf white over white
    X3 a.Tam orange over white
    X4 a.Chi white over white
    w1 a.NyJ white over white
    w2 v.Nas brown over white
    w3 v.Oak brown over white
    w4 a.SnD white over white
    w5 a.Bal white over orange
    w6 v.Den brown over white
    w7 a.StL white over orange
    w8 v.Phx orange over orange**
    w9 a.Cin white over orange
    w10 a.Pit brown over orange
    w11 bye
    w12 v.Bal orange over brown
    w13 v.Cin brown over orange
    w14 v.SnF brown over brown**
    w15 a.Sea white over brown
    w16 a.KC white over brown
    w17 v.Pit brown over brown**

    *With understanding that orange jersey is alt and as such can be worn for one exhibition and two regular season games

    **were it up to me, I’d not try to use all nine combos and so switch orange over orange to orange over brown and brown over brown to brown over orange

    I don’t think that you could manage brown-on-orange at Pittsburgh. The Steelers never wear white at Heinz Field. (The Jeff would likely be happy with an orange vs. black game, and it might not be bad in this example.)

    And I’m not a fan of going white-on-white against teams who wear white pants with their dark jerseys. Not enough color. Go with white-on-brown vs. Buffalo, white-on-orange at the Jets, and white-on-orange at San Diego. I recommend against orange jerseys or pants in games against other orange teams (Cincy, Tampa Bay)…not sure what to do for the Chicago game.

    But I agree wholeheartedly about not wearing color-on-same-color…ever.

    The Hawks pulled the shirts because the left of Jeff Teague’s name, not because they misspelled “George Teague’s” name

    They did misspell Austin Daye’s name though. You can see it says “Ausitn” in the top left. Couple of rare blunders from the Hawks marketing folks. They’ve been doing a great job since reintroducing the Pac Man logo around this time last year.

    Had me thinking about the 1993 Sugar Bowl when the Real George Teague stripped Lamar Thomas… link

    Cleaning up: it’s Kristopher Negron, not Negon, the Hawks misspelled Austin Daye’s name and omitted Jeff (not George) Teague’s name, and there’s an incorrect apostrophe in “Liverpool has renewed it’s jersey”.

    I’ll defend the Brewers – four words I’m going to have to get used to saying, what with an upcoming move to Wisconsin. You can look at it like they dressed for a Spring Training game, or you can look at it like they’re trying to get into the mindset playing like the outcome doesn’t matter. The latter is a perfectly healthy, appropriate way to try to break out of a slump. Ignore the bigger picture, the score, everything, and just play the game in the moment. Spring training / hitting rehearsal smocks are sort of totems for that kind of approach to the game.

    On the other hand, please let this be the last time they break out the hitting rehearsal smocks during a game. In a 162-game season, that move is forgivable once. Once. Especially for a team that wears like a dozen non-BP jerseys over the course of a season. Next time they need to break a slump, dig out the Polish alternates.

    So the Browns draft hat is the only one without the gold NFL logo for the year? I hope it’s at least the new shade of orange.

    Paul, thank you for maintaining your standards regarding reporting leaks. Should be the default approach for all journalists, not only to leaks but to any information: Confirm before reporting.

    That said, I almost feel like we need a word other than “leak” for the sort of thing that comes UW’s way. Usually when Paul reports a leak, it’s not evidence of wrongdoing or whatever that would otherwise remain hidden. It’s advance information about something that will become public soon anyway. Which is not without value, but it’s a different beast from the kind of leak that, for example, Romenesco most often deals with. There’s a common element – the unauthorized passing of information to a journalist – but the two cases seem otherwise wholly different.

    Providing unauthorized, secret information — even if that info will eventually become authorized and public — is pretty much the definition of a leak. That’s definitely the appropriate term for what I receive.

    Are there different types of leaks? Sure. We could come up with a taxonomy, I suppose. But they’re all still leaks.

    10 years ago today the Nats wore their BP uniforms and Cristian Guzman threw the game away in the 9th in the rain. I’m still bitter about the Mudball – cost DC a winning season for the first time since 1969. They went 81-81 instead. guzman killed that season.

    Unbelievable stoked to see a Ronnie “The Rocket” O’Sullivan mention in Uni Watch. My day is officially made.

    So our host also follows Jim Romenesko?

    It’s a slippery slope. I was dabbling at our two-bit college newspaper where old CJRs were left for us to thumb thru. Then someone invented the internet, and I discovered Poynter and Romenesko and Jay Rosen.

    Now I can’t watch the news without wondering how someone is getting something wrong, and I have no appetite at all for commercial TV shows that purport to be media crit. And I don’t write for a living!

    OTOH, Paul’s description today of his leak-vetting and decision-making puts some of the “name brands” to shame. Judith Miller is being listened to in polite society as we speak.

    It’s kinda depressing once you get a peek in the sausage factory, isn’t it? Cable news nets are all awful in their own ways and the local 11 o’clock news is even worse.

    A lot of these “leaks” are just clever PR and marketing. By “accidentally” leaking information, a company creates a buzz around the story. Everyone throws aroundjuicy speculation for days ahead of the “official” release of the news, and the whole thing gets a lot more attention and excitement than it otherwise would.

    I see. So you know, for a fact, that the people who leak things to me are really just part of a marketing conspiracy.

    Must be nice to know so much about my world.

    No, he wasn’t “just stating his opinion.” He was referring to “these leaks,” which means the uniform leaks, which means things I actually deal with on a day-to-day basis.

    Maybe — just maybe — I know more about what goes on in my day-to-day work than he does.

    Just maybe.

    Another NFL Skyline Draft cap error. Philly skyline is missing the Comcast Tower (tallest building in the city). Guess the folks at New Era are Verizon FiOS customers? link

    If I had the time and the graphic design chops, I’d love to do a “if we were being honest” skyline caps. Giants and Jets would have the indoor ski slope with swampland and the Turnpike in the foreground, Patriots would have their quaint little downtown, and the Cowboys would have strip malls with, well, strip clubs.

    I’m a lifetime New Englander who’s never been to Patriot Place, but I believe that the year-round tourist destination and shopping mecca also includes a hotel (correct me as needed).

    Was not aware that this thing next to Gillette Stadium was made in Ye Olde Newe England style*. Or does the quaint little downtown skyline mean the actual downtown of Foxboro, or nearby Sharon, MA?

    As a Bills fan I’m happy to say the brim of our hat would be uncluttered and blank because I cant think of anything taller than a 2 story house near Ralph Wilson Stadium.

    Just wishing to add to your leaks story,

    in my job i have access to all sorts of logos from leagues months before release, the temptation to email you to correct any leeks i see on your site take a large amount of self restraint. Even commenting to me sometimes seems to risky. ( i’m self editing here as i write this, to not incriminate myself to much )

    I have never leaked and don’t intend to, but for me it is mostly comes from an inbuilt need to want to correct things i see that are wrong and can prove are wrong. perhaps thats another type of leaker.

    7. The just wanting people to stop guessing leaker.

    Ha! Great post. I can totally relate — it’s frustrating when the whole world is taking something seriously and you know it’s bogus, but you can’t say anything.

    Kudos to you for holding your tongue. I respect your self-restraint.

    Glad you can relate!!
    The Browns release was particularly hard to deal with, i’m just pleased i’m not the only one! haha

    The Newton Royals helmets are stock Easton helmets. Several boys on my son’s Little League team are wearing them this spring.

    Here are my NFL Draft Cap rankings:

    1-32: ALL RUBBISH

    Exactly who benefits from those underbrim graphics? Certainly not anyone actually wearing one of those caps, for whom those graphics will appear upside-down.

    I might consider buying a UniWatch watch if it actually had numbers on it. Never liked a watch without all 12 numbers. And women’s or kids’ size would be a plus, too. My wrist isn’t that wide. Unisex doesn’t cut it.

    Elena, if you go back to the watch listing page and go to “Style Options,” you’ll see that women’s and kids’ sizes are available.

    But no numbers on the dial — that would interfere too much with the logo.

    Not sure if this was ever posted here: the D-Backs posted an article the other day documenting the story behind the numbers of certain players on the team.


    Count me in with number 6, and not just with uniforms: it is disgusting how corporations have made non-disclosure agreements commonplace, forcing their employees to behave as if they were intelligence agents working for a country which is at war. I have a friend who is a video game translator and who spent the better part of two years working on a project that was ultimately cancelled. Not only wasn’t he allowed to speak about his work while it was going on, but isn’t allowed to talk about it even now, and has to put “Unnamed Project” on his resume.

    What kind of society are we living in where someone will be sued if they tell their friends, over beers perhaps, what they were doing at the office all day? This isn’t Bletchley Park here; no loose lips are going to sink ships.

    There are times when an NDA is legitimate. Technology secrets prior to patenting. Upcoming corporate takeovers. Secret business plans. I see plenty of things that (if known to the public or competitors) would cost somebody a hell of a lot of money.

    I won’t disagree that they are vastly overused, both in terms of the scope of information covered and the number of people who have to sign them. Corporations also go much further than necessary, into virtually preventing someone from earning a living if they leave their company.

    I don’t get too excited by uniform unveilings these days, since they are so common and I’m not really into modern jerseys. But today’s lede makes it all worthwhile, a really fantastic piece.

    I agree with a couple posters above – in my world (government relations, energy policy) many leaks are intentional from “the powers that be” to assess what the reaction would be to a particular policy, to soften the ground for a different policy, or sometimes to deliberately misinform.

    And plenty of insider journalists happily play the game in order to get to use the word “exclusive”. Playing the game also gets them access to the next “leak”. Half the political journalists also imagine themselves being asked to join the inner circle as advisors and are happy to do this to curry favour.

    I fully accept that the same thing doesn’t happen in sports and branding. But it does happen in some worlds.

    I’ve never knowingly been part of such a scheme (nor would I knowingly do so). Have I unknowingly been part of such schemes? By definition, I don’t know.

    It’s interesting to see how many commenters instinctively react to this topic with conspiracy theorizing. Says something about the level of cynicism and alienation people have regarding our corporate and media cultures.

    That’s America.

    We believe the most reasonable explanation can’t be the correct one. There has to be more.

    Only there almost never is more. A cigar is usually just a cigar.

    It’s not a conspiracy, Paul, it’s something companies actually do. If I send a press release to 100 outlets on the same day, a lot of them will react with a yawn, knowing that everyone else has access to the same story. They feel that running a PR bit is not “Journalism.” But if someone “leaks” the info to a few sources, those sources get to report on a scoop, which is exciting to them and their readers/viewers. And it gets other media outlets asking questions as well, which creates more buzz. I’m not saying it happens to you, but it goes on plenty.

    Ron, you’re speaking from personal experience. But many of the other commenters (and people emailing me as we speak) are just speculating. And that *is* conspiracy theorizing.

    “By coincidence, I recently met another writer who’s often on the receiving end of links:”

    Did you mean “leaks?”

    Sorry, editor by trade.

    I’ve re-read the piece, and I don’t see any reference to the seemingly innate desire for people to be the first – at anything. First to post the news, first to buy the new hat etc., and so on. Mostly for bragging rights, I guess.

    Good stuff on leaks, Paul. So I have to ask: With all of the Browns “leaks” that you got beforehand, were any of them accurate? It seems like we saw a new Browns uniform every other week for awhile there.

    Nothing regarding the Browns was leaked directly to me. There was just lots of stuff floating around on Twitter and on the rest of the internet. Some of it did turn out to be accurate.

    Cool, thanks. I guess that is a bit of a distinction between leaks sent directly to you and information that’s just blasted out to everyone on Twitter.

    You know, I can understand the importance of secrecy with national security issues, financial transactions, mergers, etc… as those can have vast safety or global financial impacts. With logo or jersey leaks, does it really matter? Sure the companies and teams would like to control the messaging, but in what way does it really matter if we find out about the Clippers new uniforms and logos now or in two months? Aside from it being kept a complete secret and trying to entice consumers to purchase merchandise at full price that will shortly be outdated, and is unethical in and of itself, these leaks make no difference whatsoever. In fact, perhaps if Mr Balmer hears how terrible the reviews are on this new uniform set he will fire the idiots who designed it and reconsider.

    It’s worth nothing that at least one leak has made a real difference: In December of 2012, a source leaked the following season’s MLB BP caps to me, and I posted them on ESPN. The designs included the Braves’ Indian-head cap, which I panned. Negative response to the cap quickly spread around the sports media world (I was surprised by the ferocity of the reaction), and the Braves ended up changing the design, which almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if the cap had been unveiled on its regular date.

    So leaks can make a difference.

    Sort of my point. There are no real downsides to the leaks, and they can help identify something bad that was overlooked once exposed to the public.

    Does it give the counterfeiters a head start?

    A uniform unveiling would be pretty bad if the counterfeiters had already have their merchandise out on the street.

    The draft hat for the Vikings seems to include the (now demolished) Metrodome in the skyline on the lower left, not the construction of the new stadium.

    In regards to why things get leaked, I also feel that there is another reason which is that when a marketing firm, advertising agency, or company brand leaks something ON PURPOSE to build buzz without having to spend their marketing budget to generate publicity.
    It’s rarely used, but it’s a viable and proven way to get attention in the age of digital and social media.


    Without divulging too much info would you agree with the assessment of the two leakers who thought the design was so bad they were hoping to shame the team into changing the design? Did the public universally pan it as well?

    “This was the case when The State’s publisher told its sports columnist he couldn’t about South Carolina football or coach Steve Spurrier.”

    Was that supposed to be “couldn’t WRITE about”?

    Wasn’t expecting this until tomorrow, but here’s my latest ESPN column, which is about the history of MLB headwear innovations, from early helmets to Alex Torres’s padded cap:

    Re: The Brewers’ BP uniforms to break out of their slump. May I suggest they go all out and get rid of their current uniforms and go to back to the blue and yellow of 1982. Those were sweet uniforms.

    I’m not a Tennessee Volunteers fan by any means, but I am wondering if they have set a date for their Nike uniform unveil. Adidas has made that a terrible looking uniform for the last 30+ years, just wondering what Nike can do with that “inside of a pumpkin” orange.

    Heads up that those were not U of Miami throwbacks. They were being warn by a CLUB team, not the NCAA sanctioned team. First they were ugly, in my opinion. Secondly, they were not Nike made. Finally, Nike wouldn’t probably do anything like that for the ‘Canes this year see as Miami makes the jump to Adidas over the summer.

    As someone who went to UM in the ’80s, I can add that I never saw the team wear anything like that.

    They sure as hell never wore a “U” cap. link is the only cap they ever used.

    It’s funny to me that two of the three examples used of Romanesko leaks are different instances of lousy management from the same York, PA newspaper. So not only did they ban swearing (and take away Mountain Dew!), but they were the newspaper that decided lights and AC are luxuries in today’s newspaper game.

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