Archive for the 'journalistic integrity' Category

09
Jun
08

Oh, Paul Pierce Christ

PPMy father is a wise man. (That’s not him in the Dickerson jersey.)

He knows things.

About 8 years ago, at the peak of his soothsaying, he predicted the downfall of the National Basketball Association.

Sadly, although several of our favorite sites would try to convince you otherwise, he was right.

I could care less that the players wear dem danggone long shorts now. Or that they sport tattoos. Or shoot people at strip clubs.

The problem is that it’s no longer about the game play, it’s about everything else.

It’s about Paul Pierce’s fake? injury.

It’s about whether Passing Kobe, Shooting Kobe or Sexually-Assualting Kobe will show up.

It’s, somehow, about Bill Russell teaching KG Celtic history.

The problem is that the League cannot accept that it’s no longer the late 80s or early 90s. I mean, Seriously?

And all this hype and desire to return to the “good ol’ days”, in turn, leads to over-aggressive officiating (see the first two games of the Finals), over-paid rookies in hopes of The Next MJ and announcing exchanges that go something like this:

Mike Breen: Paul Pierce is one of the premiere scorers in this league today.

Jeff Van Gundy: Paul Pierce is one of the best Celtics ever to put on a uniform!

Mark Jackson: Paul Pierce is as good as Larry Bird!

Michelle Tafoya: God, I wish Paul Pierce would just impregnated me already!

All joking aside, what has the NBA come to when Paul Pierce is compared to Larry Bird (yes, the comparison was actually made)? I don’t think I need to tell you that, as far as playmaking skills go, Pierce and Bird are not even in the same Garden.

The bottom line is that it’s no longer 1988. Magic and Bird aren’t going at each other (except via commercial in baggy tank tops). And the NBA we grew up with is no more. (sigh)

22
May
08

Football, in the cold? Commence whining

Super BowlThere is one argument in professional football that draws more whines than any other.

It’s not the validity of preseason games, or even instant reply.

It’s the site of future Super Bowls.

Recently, the league announced that the 2012 version of the world’s biggest game will be played in Indianapolis.

This, apparently, made ESPN.com columnist Gene Wojciechowski very upset.

Apparently, Gene would prefer enjoying his complimentary Diet Coke and Chipotle inside a 72-degree climate controlled stadium in Arizona — rather than a 72-degree climate controlled stadium in Indiana.

Note: If you have to write a sidebar defending your completely uncontroversial column, it was probably a waste of space.

In between my involuntary vomiting over the fact that people get paid to write garbage like this, I pulled out the following one-liners and nuggets of wisdom for your enjoyment:

I don’t get it. Playing in a Super Bowl is supposed to be a reward, not a reason to visit your local North Face outlet. And attending a Super Bowl as a fan is supposed to be the experience of a lifetime, a chance to break out multiple bottles of SPF 30….The only things you’ll break out in Indy are space heaters.

–Aren’t the playoffs a “reward” for playing well in the regular season? Because they are frequently held outside. Also, raise your hand if you’ve been to a Super Bowl? Final tally: 0. Editor’s note: Space heaters are not allowed in Lucas Oil Stadium.

That’s another thing. The owners needed four secret votes to decide between Indianapolis, Houston and Glendale. Let’s see: In Houston and Glendale, there’s this orange orb called the sun. In Indianapolis, there’s this white orb called a snowball. What was there to decide?

–(silence)

Maybe the owners owed Colts owner Jim Irsay a favor. Maybe Irsay promised them a cameo in Peyton Manning‘s next cell phone commerical. Or maybe Mystery, Alaska, wasn’t available.

–Gene’s notes to self: Don’t forget, three derivatives of the word “own” minimum in this graph. Also, Peyton Manning doing lots of commercials = funny. Lastly, reference funny Netflix movie everyone else saw (and forgot) 10 years ago.

I guess we just don’t see the Super Bowl in the way Gene does (most likely because we don’t walk around gathering free goodies at Media Day). You simpletons don’t see the experience of a lifetime, free of corporate sponsors stealing your seats or endless pageantry (see photo above).

I’ll put it this way for all of our 13-year-old female readers: This column is the girl on “My Super Sweet Sixteen” lobbying daddy for the Range Rover instead of that peasantly Beemer.

But daddy, I want my Super Bowl in Glendallllle.

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.

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.

17
Jan
08

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!

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.