Archive for the 'Journalism' Category

24
Apr
08

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 espn.com.

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.

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23
Apr
08

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Press Pass – pt. 3

Some 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 3 — THE REPORTERS

Alright, let’s get this out front first. Yes, a lot of reporters write blogs for their given outlets, but it’s not necessarily by our own accord. More often than not, an editor calls us into the office, tells us that management wants to establish more of a “Web presence” because that’s what all the kids are doing these days with their Giggles and Tube Yous, then they tell us to cross our arms and “Oh my god, look at the spider on the ceiling!” then *FLASH*-*SNAP*, we have a blog.

What I’m trying to say is, that’s not entirely by choice. As much as I love being forced to write twice as much as I used to, I’m not the biggest fan of sports blogs. Never really have been.

I look back on how I got to this point, and I see college where I spent countless hours in sweaty rooms writing news leads and memorizing the different between lay and lie. I covered field hockey and volleyball and water polo and track and softball… And what did it all get me? My first job covering all the same shit — except at a high school. My big stories were about a basketball player with down syndrome and a football recruit getting arrested (which I co-bylined with a fat man named Bill who had a burly mustache and a car that smelled like sour hot dogs).

Ten years of that landed me right back at the colleges, and another 15 years after that I finally cracked open the doors to a professional press room. That’s how I got the job I have, how about you bloggers that want a seat next to me? You opened an account at Blogspot and started calling me a shmuck.

I’m not saying all that makes me more or less worthy, I know the world doesn’t work like that. What I’m saying is that you can’t replicate the passion and respect that those 30 years have left me with. I approach these games like a surgeon approaches a patient; like a lawyer approaches a courtroom. These are not some free tickets to me. This is work.

When I look around that press room, I see a bunch of tired faces that carry the same battle scars as my own. And I’m just as dependent on those guys as I am on my recorder and notebook. You see, in the eyes of these athletes, we’re all the same. Lumped into one giant bunch. “The Media.” And the fact of the matter is, if one guy pisses of the coach, he walks out on all of us. I have to tell my editor that my story won’t have quotes tonight, just like the other 20 guys in the room. Around here, there isn’t any room for renegades.

Listen, even though I could go on about “ethics,” and “standards,” and how “I can’t do what you do and get away with it,” I don’t think those are the central issues to this matter. I think journalists have proven they are just as capable of acting unethically. What’s bigger is the history, tradition, and honor that surrounds covering a coach who just won a Super Bowl, or a 22-year-old kid that’s sobbing into your microphone because he just lost the last meaningful game he’ll ever play in his life.

Those are the things that are not to be taken for granted. And unless you’ve seen that same elation on the face of a little league coach or that same anguish in the eyes of a high school softball pitcher, I argue that you’ll never truly understand what a privlege it is to cover these games. So for now, let’s just stick to what we each do best. I’ll keep writing game wraps, and you can keep calling me a shmuck.

View the other perspectives: The Owners and The Players

22
Apr
08

we don’t need no stinkin’ press pass – pt. 2

Ron RonSome 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 want to address this issue in a five-part series starting today. 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 2 — THE PLAYERS

Today’s perspective is that of the player. And after much Fynal Cut editorial board discussion, it was decided this particular segment could not be done from the first-person point of view. Here’s why:

As far as being opinionated on the media (whether it be traditional reporters or bloggers), we’ve separated professional athletes into two camps:

One group (in the extreme minority) write their own blogs. These range from the ungodly annoying to the extremely insightful and entertaining. It’s fairly obvious that some athletes (cough, Schilling, cough) do this with the specific intent of avoiding media contact. It’s direct contact with the fan. Cut out the middle man.

On the other hand, some, like Gilbert Arenas, probably just do it for fun — which feels pretty damn good to say.

The player blog has even spun off into a news topic of its own — friend of the Cut Ryan Corazza now writes specifically about athlete’s blogs for ESPN the Mag.

The other 98%, which would be most players in most leagues, could care less who gets credentialed to be in the locker room. As long as they aren’t bothered.

Few athletes actually open up to these individuals anyway, so why would they care for which publication these pests write?

I could see a few potential problems developing out of bloggers being allowed in the locker room.

The first is something like this happening, which would be horrific to bloggers everywhere.

The first time a player complains about a writer — who later turns out to be a blogger (gasp!) — would signal the end of the basement dwellers in the locker room. Ideally, bloggers shouldn’t be subject to different treatment than the regular reporters. But the fact of the matter is, bloggers in the locker room will be a disruption at first.

The reporters will question whether the bloggers should be there. The bloggers will have an air of confidence in thinking they will soon be replacing the beat reporters. And the athlete will be thrown out of his comfort zone and complain to the media relations person.

In the end, the athlete will be fine with bloggers in the stadium, on the team plane, in the shower locker room…until they get annoyed. Which is going to make it extremely difficult for bloggers to do their jobs.

We can only hope players like Gil will try and talk some sense into their fellow players.

21
Apr
08

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Press Pass — Pt. 1

Some 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 want to address this issue in a five-part series starting today. 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 1: THE OWNERS

I’m a business man and my model is simple: Win. Winning = good press = more fans = dollars. It’s that simple… On the surface.

The only things that fuck up that model are the elements beyond my control: A head case of a closer, my point guard finds out his prozzie is a cop, the backup QB gets caught railin’ lines off a hooker, hell, some punkass fan decides to start a riot… These are the only chinks in my armor. The only ways I loose money. So what I do I do? I control. As much as I can. That’s the name of the game in this business — control. You’re either gaining it, or you’re losing it.

So what are bloggers to me? They’re sharks. I know, we usually reserve that title for prick agents, but let me lay a different analogy on you. See, us in management are like dolphins. We work as a group, everyone with their role, and together we create structure. We organize all the little fish into a perfect, compact space and through this organization and planning, we get what we want. Bonus with sports is, we don’t have to eat the fish, the fish get what they want out of the bargain too.

But bloggers, you see, they exist outside our control. We can’t exude any command over them, we can’t work them into our overarching plan. They’re just out there sniffing for blood in the water, and when they catch a whiff they attack! They come barreling in, caution to the wind, and make a big spectacle out of everything, just trying to gobble up as much (attention) as they can before everything is gone. Then they swim on, back to the darkness, looking for their next meal. And it’s us dolphins that are left with the mess.

I love analogies to nature because it speaks to something bigger than the human mind. It’s nature. It’s the way things are. And believe me, I understand that in the age of the Internet, this is the way things are. It’s the way they’re going to be. These guys writing blogs are no different from what I used to be — just a guy looking to make it on his own, to carve a niche. So, don’t get me wrong here, I don’t have a problem with what they’re trying to do, you’ve just got to understand the differing perspectives.

Granting access to bloggers is just bringing a shark into my family of dolphins. The head case closer, my sex-craved point guard, the QB addict — that’s all blood in the water, my friend. Don’t you see? A blogger’s wet dream is my nightmare. 

What about regular reporters, you ask? All I’ll say is this: Reporters report. I can live with that. Bloggers, they  try to stir the pot even if nothing’s cookin’. Look, this issue is nothing personal, it comes down to a conflict of interests. Where I look for control, they look for chaos. What they see as page views, I see as lost ticket sales.

And at the end of the day, that stadium, those seats on press row… Those are my waters, son.

 

04
Feb
08

Heads up

Headlines, headlinesThe Cut is nothing if not a bastion of knowledge and journalistic information (about once every couple months).

And today, you’re in for a lesson.

Super Bowls (and other championships) are a great chance for daily newspapers to “show you what they’re workin’ wit” – as the kids say.

Being in the newsroom after such a big game is nerve-racking. You’ve got probably 30 minutes (maybe less) to come up with something catchy, punchy and original.

But, it’s also what sports editors live for.

Not all editors are up to the challenge (see left). That being said, let’s see who made the Cut after New York’s Giant Upset! of the Patriots.

Best Headline: BabyJ and I agreed that there was definitely a tie at the top. Both “The Perfect Crime” from The Chicago Tribune and “18 and Uh-oh!” from the The Sun (Lowell, Mass.) garnered our 1st-place votes.

Most worn-out: By far (and I mean far), “Giant Upset” was the most popular headline. And by popular, I don’t mean that people liked it. This award is also known as the “laziest headline” award. Usually, taking the name of the team/person/coach who won and placing it in a catch phrase is a no-no. And as you might have guessed, publications who went with “Giant Upset,” didn’t really stand out.

Worst headline: “Giant Upset” had to be immediately thrown out of contention for this award, because it required no effort. The worst headline award goes to someone who actually tried before failing miserably. (Drumroll please) And by far the most lackluster headline was “Super Manning” from the RedEye (ironically, owned by the Tribune).

Not only does this require no thought, it was also used for LAST YEAR’S SUPER BOWL! However, in all fairness, this publication frequently publishes Britney Spears updates.

Honorable mention: This may be up for some debate, but personally “Nobody’s Perfect” was just below a first-tier headline for me. Yes, it’s a phrase, but would require more intelligent newsroom discourse than Giant _____.

The other interesting thing about headlines is the way they are pointed. In the New England area, almost all the headlines revolved around the Patriots losing, where as NY papers and national pubs focused on the Giants winning.

Basically, you could read a headline blind and figure out what region the paper was from. (Bored? Try playing this game with yourself, Google an event, read the headlines that pop up and see if you can locate the publication. Did you do it?! Loser)

And now you know how to write a great headline. Let’s see your suggestions in the comments:

29
Oct
07

Belichick makes me miss Vick

Belichick - a dickYesterday, while watching Tom Brady headbutt one of his underpaid, All-American linemen, I had a thought.

There are no “hated” coaches in the NFL — except Bill Belichick.

Honestly, those in Patriot country have to be the only football fans who tolerate the man. It’s not like you can laude his high morals or coaching principles.

Personally, it wasn’t so much the cheating that turned me off Belichick.

Or when he leveled a photographer trying to snap a picture at midfield.

Or when he tried to lure away another man’s wife with all the cash he saves on weekend wardrobe (come on, I had to get one sweatshirt shot in there).

Nope, it was simply the fact Billy (and his boys) would do anything to have you believe they’re the most humble, blue collar, come-to-work and do-your-job guys in the entire world, let alone the league.

What a sham.

And it really showed Sunday, when the Pats kept hitting Redskins in the face, up 38-0. When Wes Welker scored (to make it 45-0), he acted as if he had just sealed a huge comeback in the AFC Championship game (oh wait…). Wes Welker, not Randy Moss. Nothing more humble than that.

When Belichick was asked about throwing on numerous fourth downs (with a huge lead) after the game, he gave his typical dickhead response:

“What did you want us to do, kick a field goal?” he asked.

Oh, you’re such a badass Bill. I know some wives that would be really turned on with that display of dominance.

The reporter probably did want you to kick a field goal so he wouldn’t have to waste a column/story/blog writing on how you lack any class whatsoever.

(To the writer’s credit, he shot back, “I didn’t want you to do anything, I’m asking about your thought process on that play.”)

Don’t be fooled by the image the media portrays of the Pats. Certainly there are other teams who will win at any cost, whose players play for the money and the fame, and haven’t enjoyed being on the field on a Sunday in years.

It’s just rare one team has them all.

PS. I refused to sell my ticket for 16 times the face value, so I’ll be at the game of the year Sunday. Go Horse. 

18
Oct
07

No news is good news?

Torre quits! No waitAs I write this, ESPN is reporting that Joe Torre has turned down a $5 million, 1-year deal to remain with the Yankees. However, they keep saying “apparently,” so Andy Katz might be on the story.

Either way, thank God this Torre news nightmare is over. What is happening lately with non-news stories being completely over-covered?

First we have Kobe demanding a trade, then not demanding a trade. The next day, Kobe is cleaning out his locker!! Oh wait, sorry, he’s just cleaning up his locker.

Then this Joe Torre nonsense started.

Will he come back? Will he leave? Oh my God, I can’t sleep until someone hypothesizes!!!

Earlier this week, the SportsNation poll question on espn.com was, “Who should the Yankees keep, Joe Torre or Alex Rodriguez?”

What’s that? You didn’t know the rule that says a team can only keep either its manager or star player when both are up for contract renewal? You need to read more Baseball Prospectus.

Long ago, in journalism school, I was taught that stories are to be chosen based on how newsworthy they are. I couldn’t even tell you what criteria the above stories passed.  But, either way, I thought I could always fall back on the sports section of the beacon of spectacular journalism that is the New York Times. Until I saw the following headline.

“The only Yankee News Is That There is Still No News”

Honestly NYT? You’ve violated Rule 1 of the profession and we haven’t even gotten to the lead.

If I’m a reader, who knows nothing about the Yankees, baseball or sports, why would I read this story? Because it contains no news? How do you even write a 16-graph story that contains no news? More rhetorical questions!!

Suddenly, Klosterman’s suggestions aren’t looking so drastic.