Archive for the 'FynalCut interviews' Category


we don’t need no stinkin’ press pass – pt. 4

Blogging shirtSome day soon, a book will come out entirely centered around the journalistic phenomenon we now call blogging. Specifically sports blogging. It won’t be written by a blogger, but some Ph.D. at a liberal arts school. The book will analyze all the ways in which this new form of media has effected “traditional sports reporting” and how the landscape of event coverage has changed forever. One of the chapters in this book will be an expansion of this article (or at least the beginning of it), published in the New York Times on Monday, April 21. The chapter will center around access, and who deserves what amount. But before all that happens, we wanted to address this issue in a five-part series. We will view the access question from the perspective of all the major parties involved: owners, players, reporters, bloggers, and we’ll end on Monday with the most important perspective of them all — the fan’s.

Part 4 – The Bloggers

Listen, just because I didn’t land an internship with the Backwoods Ledger out of college, doesn’t mean I can’t give the people what they want.

The popularity of sites like Deadspin and The Big Lead has shown that sports fans don’t have to turn to their local paper for day-old box scores. Fans can get stories the big dogs are afraid to print, and they can get them immediately.

The writing is a bit too snarky, you say? Check out Free Darko — a downright insightful NBA blog. Coverage too varied for your particular taste? Storming the Floor will make you crave March Madness seeding. Even if you just want a good laugh, FireJoeMorgan is there for you.

Bloggers have it all.

So with all these great prosers — why shouldn’t bloggers be allowed in professional locker rooms?

We do more investigative reporting than newspaper reporters, anyway. Beat writers get the quotes/stories/interviews they want by coddling their sources for years. Every story they break that has even the slightest negative connotation has 5 anonymous sources.

Bloggy don’t play that.

If someone has dirt, we discuss it. Remember when Harold Reynolds (by far the best talking head on Baseball Tonight) got the boot from the World Wide Leader? Without blogs, you would never have heard anything about it. You just tune in one night, and bam, he’s gone.

Newspaper reporters have cultivated this horrendous image of bloggers to use to their advantage. As long as the uneducated, prim and proper public associates bloggers with stoned slackers, they’ll have a hard time getting respect.

Now a few of us have made the transition smoothly. In one of the few crossovers from blog to mass media, True Hoop, an NBA blog authored by Henry Abbott, was snatched up by

And according to Henry, his sport has one of the most forward-thinking (yet most basic) approaches to bloggers in the locker room:

The only place I have ever been treated any differently because of my medium is in Mark Cuban’s Bizarro-land. But I know of no other place in the NBA where a serious blogger, who has been around for a while, would be expected to be treated as a second-class citizen.

I think the NBA did the perfect thing. From what I understand, they didn’t tell the teams they have to credential any set number of bloggers or anything. They said there can be no special ban of bloggers, and they have to go into the mix with everybody else.

That makes perfect sense to me. You look at how much space you have, you look at all the credential requests you have, and you make some hard decisions, based on stuff like who’s professional, who has influence, who has audience, and all the rest.

People who read blogs don’t think it’s hard to figure out which bloggers belong there and which ones don’t.

Henry sums it up perfectly.

All we want is to be treated like every other writer. Take away that giant-ass credential from the Sun-Times and those 30 years slaving away on agate in Richmond, Ind., and who would draw the bigger readership?

I guess I’ll let the Web (and newspaper layoffs) answer that one.


The Fynal Say: Josh Levin

Slate front pageHere at the Cut, we always like to bring you fresh content.

At least when it doesn’t get in the way of our real jobs. Or playing Wii. Or drinking.

But other than that, we always want to give you as many perspectives from as many people as possible. That being said, I’m proud to introduce a new FynalCut feature – The Fynal Say.

And boy, have we started off with a bang for our inaugural piece.

Josh Levin, an associate editor at Slate, was kind enough to be our first. If you don’t read Slate, you’re probably leading an aimless life, destined to die young. If you do, join us we discuss insanely tall basketball players, John Kruk’s hair and Coach K on the scoreboard at a Wizards game…

—Let’s start off insanely broad. What’s the biggest flaw in the way we cover sports right now? Or, in what facet is sports media most in need of improvement?

I’m not sure this quite answers your question, but one problem the sports media has to face these days is that athletes really don’t have any need to talk to the press these days. Back in the day, a newspaper story or a Sports Illustrated profile was a big deal. People got to know their heroes through the papers and magazines, so star athletes had a strong incentive to talk to the press. Now, everyone gets their news from TV and the Web. LeBron James can get famous and rich by doing commercials and hosting the ESPYs without ever talking to a newspaper reporter. Also, guys like Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling use the Web to bypass the media and take their messages straight to the fans. There will always be great stories in sports, and there will always be plenty of fascinating people to write about, but it’s probably never been harder for writers to get an unguarded look at a superstar at the top of his game — maybe I’m forgetting something, but I can’t remember reading any great profiles of Tiger Woods or LeBron or Kobe Bryant recently.* Of course, it’s possible to write a great, insightful piece about an athlete without getting any access — see Pat Jordan’s hilarious incisive takedown of Jose Canseco on Deadspin — but it’s a lot harder.

*There was a pretty stellar profile of Kobe in Esquire awhile back, but the pouty image Bryant portrayed just furthers Levin’s assessment.

—“Freshness” is a big key in journalism these days, what with the invention of and complete/utter dominance by the Internet. It seems as though maybe this hinders creative, well thought-out stories because they aren’t “first on the scene.” How do you balance Web freshness, with also being the first to have a particular story.

Continue reading ‘The Fynal Say: Josh Levin’

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