Posts tagged Journalism
Posts tagged Journalism
In his mind, Murray Chass writes from a very comfortable leather chair, one that faces west in a sun-lit three-season porch, where he can pound away incessantly on his laptop computer as if it were an IBM Selectric typewriter. From this metaphorical perch, which is decidedly not his mother’s basement, where he decidedly does not have a blog, he is able to freely and inaccurately attack people’s character, not to mention some of the best people involved in sport.
Chass earlier this week decided to take a steaming pile of fecal matter and throw it on the Presidential Medal of Honor that was awarded to Stan Musial. Chass took a third-hand story and represented it as fact, even though the principal subject had written otherwise in a copy of his book and even though several other people made clear they disagreed with Chass’s original claim, that Musial was a racist.
Joe Posanski obliterates those claims better than I could or could hope to, so I won’t spend any time doing so. Others have attacked Chass already, so I won’t necessarily pile on, either. But sitting in bed last night, I couldn’t help but be startled by the irony of a man who refuses to be called a blogger because of a perceived lack of ethics among them, who continues to act so unethical.
Chass has made it clear that he is not a blogger, because he hates what they stand for. In his world, bloggers are people who sit in their homes — or their mother’s homes, basements, I should say — and freely make up words and generally provide nothing in the way of enlightened discourse.
Of course, many of the most and least famous of blogs and bloggers employ the same standards of the most stringent of newspaper copy desks. They cites sources, they check out stories, they call people to confirm something.
Chass, meanwhile, doesn’t.
He goes with one source — sometimes even that is on shaky ground — recklessly clomps away on his computer and hits send. He isn’t some teenager who is mad at a girl who spurned his advances, he’s a grandfather who was once the National Baseball Writer of the freaking New York Times. He has received several awards, notably one that has put him in the writer’s wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
This is a man who has forgotten about more of his bylines than others ever accumulate.
Looking at Chass’s hatchet jobs, we can come to two conclusions: A- he was a hack this entire time that was shielded by the banner of his New York Times press pass or in old age or B-he has become very, very mad.
I’ll go with the latter. Why is Murray so mad? Is he mad that he no longer has a column that can be used to wrap fish, line hamster cages or potty-train young puppies? Is it a shot to his ego to say he writes a blog? A blog is just a vehicle to bring words to people; hating “all blogs” is like railing against all types of dinner plates.
But Chass is right. He’s not a blogger. He doesn’t have the standards to be considered one. At this point, he’s just an angry old man sitting by himself in a dark room.
Tom Perry, who worked as a position coach under then TCU coach Jim Wacker, speaking to then Sports Illustrated reporter Rick Reilly about TCU’s efforts to clean up a pay-for-play program at the university. [Sports Illustrated, 11/04/1985]
The late Wacker, of course, went onto coach for the Minnesota Golden Gophers for five underwhelming seasons. With his history at the U of M and the recent controversy surrounding future Heisman winner Cam Newton, it’s an interesting look back.
Ines Sainz is not Lisa Olson.
Sainz, a swimsuit model now posing as a talking head for Mexican TV network TV Azetca, was reportedly greeted in the New York Jets locker room with hoots, whistles and catcalls while trying to interview quarterback Mark Sanchez. She apparently didn’t hear the comments herself, but other media members did and told her about what happened.
It reminds many of when Olson was harassed by members of the New England Patriots. To a point, that issue is still a problem.
But comparing the two issues is like lining up Peyton Manning versus a flag football QB. Calling Sainz a journalist is offensive to every woman who has and is currently paying dues to compete in a largely male-dominated medium.
Now we have a spiraling debate about whether or not women reporters should be in locker room, which is hitting the target of the issue about as well as Sanchez hit his receivers last Monday night.
Locker room access for credible journalists isn’t the issue at all.
The problem is a scantily-clad woman playing up her sexuality in a testosterone-fueled environment through flirty questions and half-naked attire. (A picture of her on assignment is pictured above. Not exactly “business casual.) Sainz doesn’t deserve to be disrespected, but she is already disrespecting herself.
She’s clown shoes.
Bill Simmons, ESPN’s Sports Guy, can make me laugh out loud at my computer or openly shake my head in disgust several times in the same column.
Here’s an example, from this latest mailbag. First, the bad:
Q: Who you got for the next “Child Actor who goes off the deep end” ala the 2 Coreys. I’m going with the kid from “Two and a Half Men.” He makes $500K per episode!
— Ryan, Indianapolis
SG: Way to go out on a limb. That’s like predicting Jessica Simpson is going to gain some weight over the next 20 years. I say, twist it around: Which current child star WON’T go off the deep end? I pick Justin Bieber, and here’s why: He’s Canadian. Canadians don’t go off the deep end. Lock it down. Sure, it’s going to be weird seeing him in 15 to 20 years when he’s the exact same size he is now (and has a comb-over). But I say he’s safe.
This is my biggest problem with The Sports Guy. He’ll make “expert” announcements that are inherently flawed. This particular answer is silly because the person asked who will be the next Corey Haim. (Sports Guy references Haim in nearly every mailbag and fancies himself an expert in that regard.) SG writes that Justin Bieber won’t get a batch of the crazies since, you know, he’s Canadian and uses the evidence of “Canadians don’t go off the deep end.”
Of course, Haim was also Canadian.
That is something that I found out after a hunch (hey, isn’t Haim Canadian?) and a four-second Google search. This is the kind of thing that gets Simmons so much criticism.
He’ll compare his updated fictional rankings with newer fictional rankings that really mean nothing to everyone else in the outside world. He’ll make ridiculous music-sports comparisons. He equates word-count with quality (reference his million-page, NBA GM cover letter “Book Of Basketball” for that. My copy is packed away, so I can’t make an exact count, but the first 10 or 250 pages deal with the argument that: Wilt Chamberlain had better stats than Bill Russell, but Russell was an overall better basketball player and teammate, which can be summed up by well, the previous 18 words I just used, along with a small breakout of Russell’s stats.
I don’t mean to completely bag on the SG — from 2004-2006 I really enjoyed his columns. At his best, they are really great. He completely carved out his own niche and deserves credit for doing so, rather than the scorn he gets from many print-establishment types who are likely jealous of his wide-spanning audience. But at other times, SG over-uses his shtick. (Some pop culture references are good, but some of the convoluted Survivor/Bachelor/etc. ones don’t age terribly well. And I would love to know if any edits are ever made to his column; at times I think his writing would be well-served by a strong copy editor.)
But now, the good. (The negativity on this blog sucks!) This has to do with why many people were so bothered by LeBron James leaving:
As for me, I figured out why the LeBron/Wade alliance bothers everyone beyond the irrefutable “Jordan would have wanted to beat Wade, not play with him” argument. In pickup basketball, there’s an unwritten rule to keep teams relatively equal to maximize the competitiveness of the games. That’s the law. If two players are noticeably better than everyone else, they don’t play together, nor would they want to play together. If the two guys have any pride at all — especially if they play similar positions — then getting the better of each other trumps any other scenario. They want that test. Joining forces and destroying everyone else would ruin the whole point of having the game. It’s like a dad kicking his young son’s ass in a driveway one-on-one game. What’s the point? When LeBron and Wade effectively said, “Instead of trying to whup each other, let’s just crush everyone else” and “If these teams end up being uneven, we’re not switching up,” everyone who ever played basketball had the same reaction: “I hate guys like that.”
That is fantastic. It’s relatable, it’s original and definitely true in my own experience.
As kids we played pickup football, baseball basketball throughout the years and for a good part of those years, it was the same group of friends. We always split up teams to be fair for the most part and I often squared off against my friend Josh, be it whatever sport.
Usually, he got the best of those matchups. Sometimes not, but even then, it was clear he was the best player on our block. Did I want to be on his team just so we would dominate? No, I wanted to beat him, to knock him off. I can remember how good my friend Dok and I got to be playing together in trying to beat Josh and whoever was his 2-on-2 teammate.
(Sidenote: I remember that one of the only times we were on the same pickup football team was when another friend, Robey was playing football with us. He was two years older and about 5 inches taller than all of us, so the teams were obviously reshuffled. I can only remember this because a deep pass got lost in the sun and bounced off of Robey’s head and Josh caught it. I can remember this because Josh jokingly referenced it in my high school yearbook, so that 50 years later we would laugh at it. I can still remember this, but I’m sure there’s something my wife asked me to do this afternoon that I have completely erased from my short-term recall. Sigh.)
The main point is that I wouldn’t have wanted to change teams to Josh’s side just so I could win. I also have forgotten about a lot of this, until I read Simmons’ column. It made me smile on an otherwise nondescript Tuesday, thinking about getting beat on a three-pointer by one of my best friends and how much fun we used to have running up and down Second Avenue South.
That is a function of good sportswriting.
A collection of different newspapers and how they decided to cover LeBron James leaving the Heat; for the newspaper nerds like myself who like to argue about three-column photos versus banner headlines and such. Again, an NBA player going to another city is not the biggest deal in the world, but it’s always fun to compare how different newspapers played the event. [Charles Apple, Visual Editors]