Sports Journalist Blames Fat, Cheeto-Eating Bloggers For The Decline Of His Trade
from the get-off-my-lawn dept
That story we had earlier tonight about Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, if that's what it is (and our news director thinks it is), is yet another example of the decline of journalism as we once knew it. Our business now, too many times, is a fat kid in a T-shirt in his mother's basement, eating Cheetos and writing his blogs -- and we make it news. Jerry Jones in a bar, being Jerry Jones, is not news to me. And the fact that some creep slides up to Jones, records the conversation without Jones knowing, then tries to sell that recording -- and that becomes news -- is an embarrassment to us all."Clearly Hansen is working on his entry for this year's Buzz Bissinger Award For Achievement In Grouchy Sports Journalism. He characterizes the decision to run the story by his station's news director as: "Public figures are fair game, and our game is reduced to following the lead of others." Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock decries this as yet another horrible example of "gotcha journalism", saying that it's no wonder athletes don't want to talk to the media when they run stories like this.
But isn't that the real crux of the issue? Many sports journalists appear to be afraid to do anything that might jeopardize their access to athletes and their teams, so they've supported the PR efforts to carefully craft the outside appearances of sports figures, and are largely hesitant to do anything to upset these appearances. Hansen calls this sort of story evidence of the decline of journalism, but it's really the result of sports journalism. Stories like this become popular and notable among the public because they're so out of character for anybody within professional sports. Other pieces have called Jones' behavior in the video "just Jerry being Jerry." And you know what? That's fine. The content of the video isn't even really that objectionable -- and perhaps has some interesting insight into the fact that Jones might have hired Parcell solely for PR value, something which seems to have gone unacknowledged among the mainstream media. But it's only these reporters, who have been let inside the magic curtain, that know that. The public at large sees the staged media persona of somebody like Jones, and then this video differs significantly from it, making it interesting.
Whitlock says sportswriters "owe Jerry Jones an apology and all sports fans an honest explanation of why athletes/celebrities have every right to avoid us." That makes it sound as if the goal of sports journalism is to be friends with athletes, to buy into, and to help build up, the carefully crafted, positive images of athletes -- not to cover the world of sports. That's what makes the downfall of somebody like Tiger Woods so sensational and so interesting to the public. But it seems reasonable to ask that given the intense media interest that follows someone like him around, why didn't the story of his escapades break sooner? It wasn't until the situation became irretrievably public -- like the Jones video -- that the mainstream media ran with it. These stories break in blogs because their writers aren't beholden to the same model, and often don't care about being so close to their subjects. Whitlock alleges that sports figures like Jones "can't be human." That's not the case at all; rather the mainstream media often doesn't make any effort to show them as human, making these rare moments where they're seen without their protective PR cover so dramatic, and so compelling.