Tag Archives: media

I’m Packing Up My Game

The Dallas Cowboys announced that Tony Romo had back surgery this morning and will not play in the season finale on Sunday night, nor any playoff games should the Cowboys win.  This ended four days’ worth of speculation on whether or not he would suit up for the de facto division title game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

There has been a narrative over the past few years that Romo is not a good quarterback, that he chokes in the clutch.  While there are plenty of examples of games where he has had an opportunity to come through for the Cowboys and the team lost, the fact of the matter is that this narrative is hideously unfair to Romo.

The most recent example is the loss to Green Bay nearly two weeks ago.  The Cowboys blew a 26-3 lead, but the only thing that fans point out – goaded on by the media, too – is that Romo threw an interception to effectively end the game.  You know what?  Take a look at any football game ever: there is a really good chance that, minus a few kneeldowns, it’s going to end on an interception.  When you’re trying to score in a short period of time, passing is the way to go, and you don’t often have the time to be picky.  That’s a recipe for a turnover for anyone, not just Tony Romo.  And yet, none of that even comes into play if your defense can hold on to a 23-point lead in the second half.

On Sunday, a clearly gimpy Romo led his team to the winning score.  “Oh, that’s just one time!” people said.  And yet, according to ESPN’s Stats and Info Twitter feed (a very good follow, by the way), Peyton Manning has the most game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since 2006 with 25.  Tied for second?  Tony Romo!  Over the last eight years, only one man has led his team to victory late in the game more often than Romo.

Of course, the losses stick out more than the wins.  Part of that is the prominence of the Cowboys in the national spotlight: success and failures alike are magnified when you play for “America’s Team.”  But keep this in mind as well: the reason that Romo has had so many opportunities to lead game-winning drives – and game-losing drives, as it were – is because the Cowboys play a lot of close games.  That’s not just Romo’s fault.  That’s on the player personnel people, the coaching staffs, and the other 52 guys on the roster.  The Cowboys simply haven’t been very good over the last eight years.

As an Eagles fan, I obviously hope that the Cowboys lose on Sunday night.  As someone who is tired of the constant bashing of Tony Romo, I hope they do so embarrassingly in his absence.

Watch Out, It’s Dog Eat Dog

I read an interesting little piece today from ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil.  She is a member of the advisory board at the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State, and she shared her contribution to the center’s monthly commentary via her Twitter account.

The gist of her entry is that journalism’s worst enemy these days is journalists.  On the surface, that doesn’t make any sense, but the truth is, she has a point.

In today’s climate, everyone rushes to have a story first as opposed to having a story right.  If you visit O’Neil’s employer on any given weekday afternoon, you will see the headlines box on the right side of the page.  Most of the stories begin with the same words: “Sources” or “Report.”  Rarely is there a story that makes its first appearance as confirmed fact and not a report from a source.

Twitter, for all its positives, is probably the genesis of this.  While the 24-hour-news cycle brought on by the spreading of the internet started the ball rolling, Twitter is the oil slick that sent it careening down the mountain.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s true: the more easily someone is able to share something they’ve “learned” or “heard,” the more likely they are to share incorrect information in a rush to be the first one to share anything at all.

And it’s not malicious; it’s not like these respected journalists are lying to people, they’re just sharing what they know as soon as they know it.  The difference is that Walter Cronkite wouldn’t break into your television show unless he knew something; 2013’s writers just have to type a few sentences into their phone and thousands of people will do the disseminating for them.

O’Neil talks about writers tearing each other down.  It sounds to me like she’s accusing her fellow journalists of turning into your standard, run-of-the-mill message board trolls who fire up their computers with the sole purpose of insulting someone who disagrees with them.  It’s a shame, but that’s another pitfall of the internet age: just because you can fire off a snarky tweet or blog post, doesn’t mean you have to.  Not that journalists have anonymity on the web, but the detachment provided by the internet serves sort of like “beer muscles” that lower their inhibitions; I guarantee that the kind of in-fighting and airing of “dirty laundry” O’Neil mentions would never happen in a face-to-face setting, but online, with social media, it’s as easy as type-and-click.

I know it sounds hypocritical for some nobody to write a blog post about the dangers of blogs and social media, but hey, I’m allowed to have an opinion.  As is everyone else.  But it’s also everyone’s responsibility to present it in the most civil and constructive way possible.

There’s an adage that says, “with great power comes great responsibility.”  In the internet age, that saying is outdated; nowadays, with even the slightest bit of access should come great patience.  And, of course, that whole “responsibility” thing.

Do This, Don’t Do That

As you know, I’m a baseball fan.  A pretty big one, really.  Part of following a sport for me involves understanding what I’m seeing on the field of play.  I’m not one of those guys who is going to pontificate about strategy to people sitting near me, but I also don’t mind talking about it with the folks I attend the game with, assuming they initiate the conversation; the reasoning, of course, is that I could go on all day if I wanted to, but no one else wants that.

Part and parcel with having ideas on strategy is knowing the rules of the game.  When I saw my first lacrosse games in college, it was a strange experience for me since I had always been one to try to learn the rules of every sport I watched or played.  I even enlisted the help of a friend who had played in high school to explain the game to me as we watched.  Bless her heart for trying, but I was completely lost.

Anyway, baseball’s got a ton of rules.  Jayson Stark of ESPN gave a number of players, coaches, and media members a 10-question rules quiz.  Admittedly, the situations involve a number of rules that rarely appear in a game, but they are still on the books.

As per Stark’s column, here were the average scores:

Players: 5.5 (20 players took the quiz)

Coaches: 6.6 (four coaches and one manager)

Media: 4.4 (seven writers/commentators)

I took the quiz and scored nine out of 10.  That means I did better than all but three of the respondents (only Brad Ziegler of the Diamondbacks had a perfect score).

You’d think this would be surprising, but it really isn’t.  I’m a baseball dork, which means when I was a kid I read all those “You Make the Call!”-type books.  I also have incredible recall for fairly unimportant things, so of course I remember these rules but forget when I’m supposed to be in a meeting.  So it makes sense that I would do well.  It would also make sense, at least to me, that coaches would do better than players; players just go out and make plays and let the umpires sort out what happened.

But the media members doing the worst strikes me as incredibly odd.  I mean, chances are, if you’re a part of the baseball media, you were probably like me: a rabid, everything-baseball-devouring kid.  And as you work your way up through the ranks covering the game, you’d think you might see some of these situations happen, or at the very least do enough reading on the game that you’d know some of the rules.

Alas, the respondents to the quiz gave the bloggers and internet commenters some ammunition for that age-old, “aw, you don’t know what you’re talkin’ about!” argument.  But the truth is that the only ones who really need to know the rules, the ones who need to get 10 out of 10 on this quiz, are the umpires.

And judging by how this season has gone, we know that wouldn’t happen.

Media Men Beg to Differ

Ah, Tebow.

I have absolutely nothing against Tim Tebow.  I’m not a fan, in the sense that he has never played for my favorite team so I’ve had no reason to root for him on the field, but I have nothing against the guy.  In fact, because of the crap he takes, I sometimes find myself rooting for him.

Tebow is one of the more polarizing figures in our current society.  People loved his story when he led the Broncos to a playoff win back in January of last year, but there were also people who quickly tired of his commitment to his faith.  There was also the issue of his quarterbacking ability; namely, he didn’t appear to have very much.  He’s a dangerous weapon when he’s running with the ball, however, and if you are as big as he is and can carry the football, you will have your chances to play in the NFL.

Unfortunately, Tebow is intent on being a quarterback.  He was traded to the Jets, and the 2012 season was an unmitigated disaster.  This week, he signed with the New England Patriots, and the hate-love-hate cycle began anew.

The en vogue thing is now to criticize ESPN for its obsession with Tim Tebow.  While I agree that it’s annoying to see Tebow news in April, May, and June – I think any football news before August is annoying – by talking about the coverage, all we’re doing is providing justification for more of it.

Whether you like it or not – or whether you like him or not – there is a demand out there for the Tim Tebow story.  The media backlash, and the media backlash to the media backlash, just proves the point.  It’s the sports version of the Kardashians: by talking about them, you justify talking about them.  It’s a ouroboros of stupid.

If you don’t like Tim Tebow because you feel like he rubs his Christianity in your face, that’s your prerogative.  If you don’t like Tim Tebow because he has funky throwing mechanics and isn’t a very good quarterback, that’s fine too.  If you don’t like Tim Tebow because “he hasn’t won anything,” well, let me point you to the Heisman Trophy and the national championships he won back in college.

But if you don’t like Tim Tebow because the media is obsessed with him, I’m not okay with that.  That’s not his fault.  And don’t hate on ESPN for covering him, either.  The very fact that you have an opinion on him warrants it.  That’s just how it is now.

The Harder You Run, The Harder You Fall

One mile.  Five thousand, two hundred eighty feet.  That’s how far the Boston Marathon bombers lived from my sister’s apartment.

One mile.  That’s less than I used to walk to school every day.

Needless to say, I didn’t do much today other than watch the news coverage from Watertown.  I know I’m not alone.  While Boston was physically locked down, I feel like most of the country figuratively shut down today, glued to televisions, radios, and the internet.

I walked in from the bowling alley around 1:00 this morning.  I had heard about the murder of a police officer at MIT and, like everyone else, wondered if things could get any worse for Boston.  However, by the time I got home and turned on the news, it was becoming clear that there was more to it.

Kudos to the local news broadcasts in Boston; they were far ahead of the national news outlets in breaking just about every detail of the story.  Negative kudos, however, to rushing to judgment; for most of the overnight period, many people believed that a missing Brown University student was one of the bombers.  Obviously, that is not the case.

I finally went to bed around 5:00 a.m.  I figured I should grab a nap before work, you know?

Thankfully, one of them was captured alive.  He may not give us any information, but just having the opportunity to question him and run him through the justice system is important.  All of the “they should have unloaded their clips into the guy” rhetoric is disturbing to me; we sit here and talk about how these guys attacked America and how we wont stand for it, and now you want to completely forgo a fundamental tenet of our republic out of anger?  I understand the feeling, but it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, work that way.  Justice is always preferable to revenge.  Some day, the guy in the white cap will be strapped to a table and given a lethal injection.  He’ll get his.  But for now, let’s prove that terrorism won’t work and that we will always be true to our principles.

Oh, and one more thing: stop the “USA! USA! USA!” chants.  This young man is an American citizen.  He’s been here for a decade.  He’s fairly assimilated.  Whether you like it or not, in a lot of ways, he’s one of us.  You wouldn’t chant like that if a serial killer was apprehended; there’s no need to do it now just because this killer has foreign roots.  It’s jingoistic at best, and borderline racist at worst.

At this point, I’ve slept for about four of the previous 40 hours.  I always get wrapped up in major news stories, but like I wrote the other day, this one was close to home for me.  I’m tired.  Nowhere near as tired as the good folks of Massachusetts, but still.

While there’s a long way to go with this case, the scariest part is over.  The relief is palpable.  The boat jokes are rolling out at a pretty good clip.  For the first time in five days, Boston, and to some extent the rest of the country, can breathe again.  We will honor our dead and bring one of their killers to justice.  Life will go on, almost the same as it did before Monday’s attack.

Almost, but not quite.  Fortunately, we can finally let the healing begin.

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

Well today was interesting, huh?

Like everyone else, I’ve been following the investigation in Boston the last couple days.  Today, we heard conflicting reports over whether or not an arrest had been made, whether a suspect was en route to a the federal courthouse, and whether or not a suspect had even been identified yet.  In the end, we’re in the same place we were when the day started: no one has been arrested, no one has been charged, and no suspect’s name has been released.

I understand the desire for media outlets to be first with breaking news.  Every other outlet has to attribute it to you, and people are inclined to tune into your network or visit your website or buy your paper if you had it first.

But in today’s 24-hour, Twitter-based news cycle, the race to be first and the race to be accurate are often running in opposite directions.  CNN reported that an arrest had been made.  So did Fox News and the Associated Press.  NBC said there were no arrests.  I saw people making fun on CBS because they didn’t say anything.

And yet, soon after, we heard that the authorities were stating that there were no arrests, and suddenly CNN became the butt of everyone’s jokes (my favorite jokes were the ones where everyone – every single person on Twitter anywhere ever – referenced the inevitable “Newsroom” plotline that would stem from the false report).

First of all…why them?  Other outlets continued to report that an arrest had been made.  And yet, CNN took all the heat.  Why?  I mean, I get that Fox News has a reputation among a certain portion of the populace that uses social media that implies that anything they report is wrong, anyway, but they still reported the same story.  So did the venerable Associated Press.  And yet, all the jokes were at the expense of CNN.  That seems unfair.

Secondly, doesn’t it seem odd that the very people who perpetuated CNN’s misinformation – the people who retweeted the story, the people who shared it on Facebook, and the people who told their friends about it – were the ones who then proceeded to vilify the network for its rush to publish?  All they did was report a story from a source; admittedly, they did it too soon, or trusted a misinformed source, or misinterpreted what that source told them.  But it wasn’t like they went door-to-door sharing the news; it was the public, the consumers of the media, that spread the false report faster than a news network ever could.

So let’s simmer down.  “Leave CNN alone!” as an internet celebrity might say.  Remember, all they did was bake the cake.  We chose to eat it.

Panic is on the Way

A monster snowstorm is on its way to the northeastern United States. New England is preparing for potentially its worst storm in 35 years, and multiple inches of snow will fall as far south as Philadelphia. With New York and Boston – two cities that have a habit of making everything about them – expecting large amounts of snow, this has become a national news story.

I don’t have a lot to say about it – I mean, if it snows, it snows, you know? – but I do think the mass media coverage inevitably ends up being hypocritical about these things. All you see and hear on the news is that if you’re in the path of the storm, be prepared. Don’t go out, don’t drive, etc. And then when the storm’s going on, what do they do? They show everyone panicking, then they send a reporter out there to blow around and get frostbite.

What I’m saying is, don’t panic, but prepare and be smart. And when it starts snowing, turn off the news. You don’t need a weather report when you have a window. The snow will be there when it’s over.