Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Clearing some things up...

Yesterday I addressed the idea of Memphis media not wanting to report negative things about John Calipari and the Tigers. Somehow (as evidence by my email) this had been twisted to where I said that reporters know about things and do not report them. This is not what I said, and in fact the audio is below. What I did say is that it is very hard to criticize, or report the negative, and still maintain the access you need to do your job.

Let me give you an example (and let's make this about USC so nobody accuses me of anything)...

Player A pulls up to practice in a brand new, shiny Mercedes. He is wearing diamond stud earrings and a Rolex and is counting hundred dollar bills when he walks in the door. As a reporter, do you look into how this player could possibly have that much money at his disposal? Do you really want to know?

Do you see where I am going with this? Now somebody from out of town might be shocked and say "gee, how is this happening?" But if you are local and your job is riding on a program and your readers are fans of the program, do you really want to know? What is the end game? You bust someone and bring down a program? You better be ready for death threats (that is not a joke) and you better be ready to find another job. That is reality. This is what I am talking about from the point of view of someone who covers sports for a living. I was not trying to be trying to be a jerk, or trash anyone, I was trying to bring a broader understanding of the media and how it can work.

What I brought up above may be an extreme example, but one that brings up the legitimate point as to why negative things are more likely to be written from the outside and out-of-towners are more likely to dig into things. They do not have to deal directly with the repercussions of their stories. Again, I understand.

I know that every reporter fancies themselves as objective beacons of journalism. I actually defended the non-criticism of local teams on the level that you have to be able to do your job and most fans don't care if the coverage is balanced.

So let me be clear... everything that I said regarding Dan Wolken and the coverage of the Tigers was all in reference to the above explanation. When my thoughts were met with "he is full of it" "that is garbage", the hilarious- "I write negative things like the riot and Robert Dozier" -it was the pinnacle of defensiveness. My initial diatribe was not even about Dan Wolken, it was about the Memphis media and the landscape as a whole, he took it personally.

Outside of Geoff Calkins, find me criticism levied against John Calipari from the Commercial Appeal (on court, or off court) in the last 2 years. Balanced coverage would be criticism and praise, right? There is only praise and the staff spin on every topic printed in our paper here (or at least 99% of the time). If that is what is considered balanced and objective coverage, then I am wrong about this.

I was not trying to make anyone upset, I was simply giving my view on Memphis and the media and the challenges covering the local teams can present. Initially, I was not even critical, I just said that this is the way things are.

So just for clarification.. the audio of what I actually said is loaded below...