Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Catfights" on the sports pages

Recent musing on the sports pages about the relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter has prompted Newsday's John Jeansonne to compare modern sports coverage to supermarket tabloid fare -- "straight out of the Hilton-Spears playbook." Although such coverage isn't new, pressure from bloggers and other fans-turned-journalists increased demand for sports journalists to cover sports celebrity controversies. If they don't, someone else will - and the news hole has unlimited room for such tabloid fare.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The business of priorities

The Akron Beacon Journal has joined at least one other mid-sized daily in announcing that it plans to tack business news on to the back of the sports section instead of running a standalone section. Chris Roush, in a blog on "Talking Biz News," speculated that it may signal the demise of business sections in U.S. newspapers. He asks: "What is more important to people, knowing information about their jobs and the economy, or knowing whether their favorite sports team won last night? ... At some point, newspapers will have to decide whether they want to improve society or not." The answer to Roush's question may not matter as much as the fact that circulation directors at many daily papers would likely agree that sports, not business, puts money in newspaper racks.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

'Most people don't give a flying whatever'

Denver Post columnist and ESPN personality Woody Paige, interviewed by PR Week, said the steroids story has been "overdone" because fans don't understand or care about the story. Stories about T.O., Lebron James and Barry Bonds, on the other hand are never overdone because of the public appetite for those stories, Paige said.
Paige added that journalists haven't done a good job explaining the steroids story. Could that be much of the reason that the public doesn't want to know more? Stories about the exploits of an individual (like T.O.) are easy to write and easy to understand. Stories about steroid use are more difficult to write and don't make easy visuals for TV. But they're far more important and need to be pursued. As fans understand the story, they will care.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Much is gained by losing the ballot

A column by ombudsman Bob Richter of the San Antonio Express-News on Sunday announced that the paper will no longer participate in the AP Top 25 polls for football and basketball. As Richter says, "little is lost." Instead, the paper gains credibility as its sports department better aligns with the job of newsmakers to report news instead of create it.
The E-N is one of a growing number of papers, including the LA Times and Washington Post, that doesn't vote in these polls. Comments by APSE sports editors illustrate the spectrum of opinions and the ethical issues tied up in the process.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

ESPN, Amaechi and the NBA

My favorite sports columnist, Dave Zirin, rightly takes ESPN and the NBA (among others) to task for their treatment of the story about John Amaechi. Zirin argues that although ESPN is doing a bit of self-promotion because it published Amaechi's book, the story of his coming out is newsworthy. Zirin also argues that the response of ESPN columnist LZ Granderson is terribly misguided because Granderson, who is gay, does not understand the homophobic world that is men's professional sports. Zirin points to the undercovered story about NFL coach Tony Dungy's affiliation with a homophobic group, for instance, and to the NBA's refusal to post a story about Amaechi on its Web site.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Want the real scoop in Beijing? Turn off NBC, tune into the blogs

The IOC has decided that it -- for now -- will allow athletes to post blogs during the Olympic Games. Blogs by Olympians aren't new, but the IOC's decision not to try to ban them ahead of the Beijing games is significant: It signals a recognition of the new media environment, where athletes can speak directly to fans and where young fans are looking for interactive coverage beyond TV.
There are major concerns, including that of athlete privacy in the Olympic Village,. Another, of course, involves the implications for mainstream media outlets. Missouri Associate Professor Clyde Bentley wonders if this new version of "citizen journalism" will kill the economic media model that has enriched athletes. He wonders, for instance, if cable nets such as ESPN2 will eventually die at the hands of sites such as YouTube as the need for traditional gatekeepers in sports disappears.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Super Bowl ad nauseum

It looks as though this year will set a new standard (you the judge about which direction) for Super Bowl sportainment.
Plenty of Web sites have given consumers a chance to start watching the ads already, and those who want a second -- or third -- look will get the chance on the sites like YouTube after the game. And pre-Super Bowl programming on CBS will, even by Sean McManus' admission, be so long as to even make viewers "nauseated" -- but, as he is quoted in the LA Times: "they will still watch."
Demonstrating the increasing influence of bloggers on mainstream sports coverage, CBS Sportsline has asked the irreverent, gossip-driven Deadspin to provide a no-holds-barred "glog" (live, running blog) during the Super Bowl on the CBS Web site.
Although embedded in all of this media coverage is a football game, the biggest winners in all of the consumer-oriented spectacle will be the advertisers.