Archive for the 'Media' 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

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.

 

11
Dec
07

I guarantee that a ‘guarantee’ guarantees coverage

NantzSunday’s football game — you know, the only one played that day — gave us another one of those fantastic moments in sports announcing where the commentators get so worked up in a tirade that they’re unable to stop and realize how hypocritical/ignorant/hilarious/infuriating they’re actually sounding.

This one came from the finely jowled man to my left: Jim Nantz.

Late in the second half (among many, many other times), Nantz got going on Steeler’s safety Anthony Smith who, in case you didn’t know, had guaranteed victory over the Patriots earlier in the week. Here is a link to the more than 750 news articles involving the words “anthony smith” and “guarantee” — proof that a second year player did, in fact, shock the world with his unbelievable brass.

Nantz was outraged over the entire concept of player guarantees. He called them cliche, stupid, pointless, and he got particularly worked up when talking about Smith’s teammates who defended the safety by saying, “at least it got him all over ESPN.” Boy howdy did that get Nantz hotter than a Texas tea kettle. So hot that he spent the next few minutes of air time bantering about how dumb it is for people to say things just for the attention, and how stupid it makes the PLAYERS look when they say these things and get them plastered all over every major news outlet and into the all-important broadcast time of an NFL football game.

Whoa. Wait. Tell me once again who is making the mistake here, Jim? The player for running his mouth (cuz that’s never happened before) or people like ESPN and, um, YOU, who spend countless minutes and hours dribbling on and on about how asinine the player is for making a guarantee. Please tell me we’re all catching the flawed logic here.

This all falls back to one of my biggest gripes about journalists, and more often, T.V. journalists. The lightning-quick ability to point the finger, and the child-like stubbornness to point it back at themselves. It’s as if news people somehow forget their own involvement with the news. They’re so inhumanly programed to get riled up over the same old stories, that they fail to acknowledge the vast amount of control they have over the situation.

So Jim, want to know the best way to cut all the ridiculous guarantee crap? Sound off to your writers and producers — not the rest of the country. We already agree with you.

29
Nov
07

Blown coverage

TaylorAs I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Washington Redskins’ safety Sean Taylor was gunned down in his Miami home earlier this week.

(Thoughts and prayers are with Taylor’s family, especially his fiancee and his young child.)

I’ve thought about this for a couple days, and not to be overly dramatic, but the coverage of Taylor’s death was borderline infuriating.

I can’t even imagine a teammate – let alone a family member – of Taylor’s watching what I watched.

Originally, there were no details about what went down. All we knew was that Taylor was shot and was in critical condition. But ESPN – perhaps still with a bit of a Vick hard-on – decided it was necessary to read off Taylor’s arrest record.

The Leader also must not have found the shooting of an NFL star very sexy, because they opened SportsCenter with a Celtics highlight before informing of Taylor’s condition. Thinking that someone was actually hired to make news-related decisions in Bristol makes me shudder.

Now, Taylor’s past is a factor in the story, don’t get me wrong, but it shouldn’t have been used to BLAME him for what happened.

And if ESPN hinted that Taylor’s lifestyle was the reason for his death, Washington Post columnist  Michael Wilbon, just straight out said it:

I know how I feel about Taylor, and this latest news isn’t surprising in the least, not to me. Whether this incident is or isn’t random, Taylor grew up in a violent world, embraced it, claimed it, loved to run in it and refused to divorce himself from it. He ain’t the first and won’t be the last. We have no idea what happened, or if what we know now will be revised later. It’s sad, yes, but hardly surprising.

Now, Wilbon wouldn’t stoop to speculating about Taylor’s life, as he pointed out earlier in his chat:

we obviously will start with Redskins safety Sean Taylor, shot after midnight this morning at his home in South Florida, now reported in critical condition. … There’s a ton of speculation about the details of his condition and the details of the incident, but this isn’t a blog and we’re not going to get into wild guessing and speculating here…

Obviously, only a blog would suggest to know things (like someone’s personality or intentions) without actually knowing or talking to that person.

Interestingly enough, three days later, Taylor’s childhood friend (and fellow NFL player) Antrel Rolle, said the former Redskin was truly trying to change his life for the better, stop running with the wrong crew.

So here’s a guy, about the same age as me, trying to turn his life around before it’s too late. He gets taken down in a terrible tragedy, and all we hear about from ESPN and Mike Wilbon (which are really one in the same) is what a horrible troublemaker he was.

What was it you said about Taylor and the gang life, Mike? Oh yea, he “embraced it, claimed it, loved to run in it and refused to divorce himself from it.”

Because you would know.

25
Sep
07

ESPN reminds you, black and white people hate each other

Vick Divide

When I get home from “real” work, I like to catch the 6 p.m. SportsCenter.

It allows me to skip Jim Rome’s Ree-dick-u-lus show, stupid PTI, all that nonsense.

But tonight, a special program (hosted by Bob Ley of course) took the place of SC…“The Vick Divide.”

People disagree on Mike Vick? I wasn’t aware.

Well, if you didn’t see it, imagine the most ridiculous town hall possible, then multiply it by the number of white ESPN anchors. (Side note: Is “The Vick Divide” some witty pun I’m not getting?)

For most of the program, Bob Ley was telling the crowd to settle down and “be civil.”

Former Falcon Terance Mathis got a lot of applause for saying “Jesus” and “God” frequently.

Terrence Moore, got booed a lot by “his city.” And the director of the Humane Society got hissed at (imagine that).

The best part was probably when Bob Ley interrupted the proceedings to cut to an ESPN breaking news update!!!! Brian Griese is getting the start for the Bears next week. Oh. Never saw that coming.

Frankly, I think ESPN knew that black Atlanta fans in the crowd (supporters of Vick) would look raucous and loud. There was basically just a lot of yelling, and one crowd member even tried to compare the punishments of Belichick and Vick (seriously). Despite how you feel, I hope it’s safe to say that people see dogfighting in different lights.

Yes, it’s illegal. But obviously, it doesn’t mean the same to you as it does to the next person.

Some people who decry dogfighting are the same people who say hunting is fine because “the animal dies quickly.” Others say it’s just part of the culture.

The bottom line is that ESPN isn’t going to solve cultural differences by having a crowd hiss and yell at media members. They know that. They want loud, in your face shows (Rome, are you still reading), which is why they showed minutes of footage of dogs fighting. Can we please move past this? Talk about the Packers. Talk about the Chargers. Hell, talk about Rex Grossman. Anything but this.