When no news becomes news

GolfweekOnce in awhile, it seems editors do something just to grab attention. For themselves, for their publications or for their sports.

If you’re not familiar with this practice, pick up the Post.

So when the Post recoils at an editorial decision, it may be time to take a step back.

Golfweek — one of two weekly magazines devoted entirely to…well, you know — has been lambasted in the press recently for the cover to the left.

The cover was in response to Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman suggestion that young players could “lynch (Tiger Woods) in a back alley,” to end his dominance.

OK, first things first. Tilghman obviously screwed up. But she’s friends with Tiger, apologized to him and the best golfer in the world likely would not be friends with a racist. Secondly, this WAS a non-story. Tilghman messes up, Tilghman suspended. But third, who the hell uses the word “lynch” in their daily life? Seriously, why would that even pop into the lady’s head?

BUT (and a big BUT here), the Golfweek cover was extremely overblown. It reeks of a publicity stunt, an attempt to sell more covers. In addition to the image of a noose, the text isn’t even creative. “Caught In a Noose”? Who says that? When your boss catches you on boobs.com at lunch, do you think, “Shit, I’m really caught in a noose now”?

Despite the controversy, the editor of Golfweek, Dave Seanor, defended his decision to run the cover:

“We’re a weekly news magazine. The big story of the previous week was Kelly Tilghman, and that’s what we chose,” Seanor said. “How to illustrate that? It was tough. Do you put Kelly Tilghman out there? But was it so much about her or the uproar?”

I think I probably would have gone with Kelly Tilghman over an image which is offensive to a large number of Americans. The logic here compares to saying, “I published those pictures of Mohammed so that people could see why everyone’s outraged.” (Which, surprisingly, was the exact logic a few newspapers used)

Seanor went on to say,

“Most people who are objecting to it – within the golf industry – are saying this episode was just about over,” he said. “I think it’s indicative of how, when you bring race and golf into the same sentence, everyone recoils. . . Look at the executive suites at the PGA Tour, or the USGA, or the PGA of America. There are very, very few people of color there. This is a situation in golf where there needs to be more dialogue. And when you get more dialogue, people don’t want to hear it, and they brush it under the rug. This is a source of a lot of pushback.”

Nothing about this statement is false. Almost everyone in golf is as white as the Huckabee family. However, few people would choose to show a picture of a noose to start this discussion. And as we’ve all seen, the discussion that followed wasn’t about race in golf, it was about nooses on the cover of magazines and the editorial decisions that lead to them.

Seanor did step back a bit by saying:

“I wish we could have come up with something that made the same statement but didn’t create as much negative reaction. But as this has unfolded, I’m glad there’s dialogue. Let’s talk about this, and the lack of diversity in golf.”

Sociologist Harry Edwards summed this up rather well to USA Today:

“If we stopped the train every time somebody made a dumb remark that is potentially offensive,” he is quoted as saying, “we’d never progress as a society.”

We’d be “caught in a noose,” as some might say.

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that FynalCut worked as an editor for Golfweek for about a year.

UPDATE: Is this really any better?

Haha, Golfweek made a huge mistake. Now, to show you how stupid and irresponsible they were, let’s perpetuate a bunch more racial stereotypes! Fun for all!


7 Responses to “When no news becomes news”

  1. January 18, 2008 at 11:29 am

    I agree. This all should have been over when Tiger accepted the lady’s apology.

  2. 2 CDM
    January 18, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Well, if it should have been over, then why yet another uproar? Clearly, people have got their panties in a bunch and cannot see the forest for the trees nixing the subject of dialogue before it can even begin. This American PC crap has taken over the country to the point that it’s a police state. Oh, wait.

  3. 3 Real American
    January 18, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    To millions of Americans, “lynch” is not a racial term, despite a history of racist lynchings, as plenty of non-blacks were lynched as well, so why should that view of that interpretation of the term be dismissed and the racist view be assumed as the only valid one?

    Had she suggested it about a white golfer, no one would have given it much thought. That, by the way, is the definition of a double standard. One standard will do just fine, thank you.

    What is wrong with people when the mere mention of that word or a picture of a noose sends them into a tizzy, especially when there is obviously no animus behind it? Is there really a fear that white golfers around the country will start lynching black golfers if they play too well? That will never happen. If the person “targeted” by the comment isn’t bothered by it, then why should people who AREN’T mentioned be upset? Well, they shouldn’t. Get a grip, people. It’s just a word and an inanimate object subject to non-racial interpretations. She obviously wasn’t suggesting that Tiger LITERALLY be lynched and it isn’t reasonable, for any person of any race, to suggest otherwise.

    The uproar over this situation is exactly these types of episodes which inflame racial passions, rather allow us as a country to get past racial issues. It was an innocent comment ABOUT FUCKING GOLF! Let it go. When non-racial comments stop getting this treatment, then we as a country will be better off.

  4. January 18, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    If it wasn’t about golf I might manage more than a “meh”. As it is though, discussing this kind of thing is better than sweeping it under the rug until it happens again and again, or having a “who is more outraged” contest among civil rights leaders, and yes, magazines. I find it hard to believe that anyone is surprised that a magazine did something as a publicity stunt. It’s a magazine. Their whole business is publicity, golf isn’t that exciting to most people, of course they wanted to sell more issues. While I think this whole thing is overblown, I don’t think claims such as no one uses the word “lynch” or the phrase getting caught in a noose (especially when it was so obviously a play on the event) really contributes anything to the discussion.

  5. January 18, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    jurnalism becamed just a mascarade, a superficial comercialism

  6. 6 jack
    January 19, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    If the columnists head shots are any indication, there is not a whole lot of diversity over at Golfweek headquarters…maybe they’ll hire a minority to replace Seanor.

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