Sports Media Weekly No. 174- John Ourand, Sports Business Journal

After a week off for the holiday Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and I are back for another edition of Sports Media Weekly.

Joining Ken and me this week is John Ourand from Sports Business Journal.

We start the show by looking back at the big sports media story from a week ago, the news that Rogers Communications has won the sole national NHL media rights in Canada away from TSN and CBC.  We look at the impact the deal will have in Canada as well as what it may mean for sports rights deals here in the U.S.A.

We move on to the NFL and the news from Fox Sports that it has already sold its entire ad inventory for February’s Super Bowl XLVIII.  The news proves once again that football is king on TV and with sponsors.

We look back at the spectacular weekend of college football and, in particular, CBS’ coverage of the Alabama/Auburn Iron Bowl.  We all give kudos to CBS for its coverage of the game and striking the right tone both in pictures and in words from Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, and Tracey Wolfson.

As ESPN prepares for coverage of its final World Cup for a while we discuss the potential U.S. rights fee battle for the UEFA Champions League matches.  Fox Sports currently holds the rights, but ESPN and NBC are looking to snatch the package away.

We wrap the show by discussing Deadspin’s purchase of a baseball Hall of Fame vote and how that may shake out.


Sports Media Weekly No. 136- Mike McCarthy, Sports Biz USA and James Andrew Miller, Author

It’s Super Bowl week and we delve into all the hype on this week’s Sports Media Weekly.

In our “Third Man In” segment Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and I are joined by Mike McCarthy, sports business and media reporter for his own Sports Biz USA as well as contributor to the NFL, Newsday, and Advertising Age.

We spend a good portion of our segment talking about the media coverage at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, including the madness around Media Day and what the media did, or did not cover during the week.  We also give our predictions on how the ratings may be for CBS this Sunday.

We then shift into our continuing discussion on the Manti Te’O story, specifically how some seemed to be equally interested in the story itself and how and/why ESPN did not get the story first.  It’s a fascinating discussion as to how ESPN is perceived in the realm of sports journalism.

The Te’O story dovetails well as we talk with our second guest, James Andrew Millier, author of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN.  Miller co-authored a piece with Richard Sandomir of the New York Times looking at how ESPN handled the Te’O story.  He says ESPN had enough information to run the piece, but wanted an on-camera interview with Te’O before running the story.  Jim provides some compelling insight into how ESPN worked this story.

We also talk to Jim about the comings and goings of talent at ESPN; the appearance of Chris Berman on Dan Patrick’s radio show tomorrow; and the progress of the Those Guys Have All the Fun movie.

Sports Media Weekly No. 134- Pete Dougherty, Albany Times Union and Andrew Catalon, WNYT-TV

We have a New York state Capital Region theme on this week’s Sports Media Weekly.

We start a new initiative this week by inviting a sports media reporter or blogger to join Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and I as we discuss the sports media news of the week.  For the premiere edition we are joined by sports media columnist Pete Dougherty (Twitter) of the Albany Times Union.

We start by talking about the still developing story broken by Deadspin that the reported death of the girlfriend of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o last fall was, in fact, a hoax.  We discuss the story as we have it and how online sites like Deadspin can spend more time than traditional media outlets investigating such a story.

We then shift to the Lance Armstrong PED saga and how he may get more compassion from Oprah Winfrey than he may have from other reporters.

We look forward to the start of the NHL season and how the league is making it easier for local viewers to watch more games during the shortened season. We also predict hardcore fans will still watch games locally and nationally on NBC and the NBC Sports Network.

We wrap-up the news segment looking at our predictions on viewership for the upcoming NFL Conference Championship Games.

We are then joined by Andrew Catalon, who works for WNYT-TV in Albany but is just as well known for his work calling games for NBC Sports, CBS Sports, the Tennis Channel, and SNY.  Andrew recounts his busy schedule, his work on the 2012 Olympics in London, and his versatility of calling just about any sport.

Hindsight May Be 20/20 But It Can Still Be Short-Sighted

Before I start this post, I’d like to add a very, very strong caveat. It’s something I believe deeply in and have tried very, very hard to avoid doing anywhere: talking about someone else’s writing in the negative. I think it’s one-sided, I think it’s generally unfair, and I think it rarely allows any sort of positive discussion to really take place. At best it looks like bickering and at worst it looks like a cheap shot.

Sometimes, though, it needs to be said.

Deadspin’s Tommy Craggs has a very interesting post up today, and it deserves your attention; not because it’s beautifully written, though Tommy is in fine form—funny, and to the point; not because it’s excellently researched, though clearly Tommy has proven, many times, that he’s a quality journalist who does his homework.

No, it deserves your attention because it’s wrong, though not in the sense that it’s really factually off, is home to a misplaced a comma or ended a sentence with the grave finality of a preposition. (Anyway, where did that rule come from?)

No, it’s wrong because it’s an attempt to re-write history. The post is about the Hall of Fame nomination of former AP reporter Steve Wilstein, who first wrote this piece about Mark McGwire’s use of the testosterone-boosting drug Androstenedione.

This is the story that birthed a decade of questions, a decade of hearings and a decade of mistrust, for sure.


Another Day, Another Sports Blogger Fired From Day Job

Cameron Frye, a blogger (with a classic name) covering the Boston Bruins for Comcast Sports Net, got a decidedly unwelcome Christmas present this year: a pink slip.

Frye was recently published in’s “Waxing Off” feature where women bloggers and writers are welcome to discuss issues regarding sports or working as writers. It’s a fine feature, but it tends toward the racier side of things–mostly because it’s Deadspin–and just such a post got Frye in hot water with her bosses at CSN.

This isn’t the first time a blogger got into heat at their day job because of what they wrote online. Michael Tunison, also known as Christmas Ape at Deadspin and Kissing Suzy Kolber, the two major sports blogs that he writes for, lost his job as a Metro reporter for The Washington Post because of posts he made online.

Now, sports always has a section of its fans that enjoy, let’s say, an unsophisticated joke or two now and again. And I have no problem with people who write stuff like that. It’s incredibly hard to write funny and many of these people are very talented, regardless of how PG their writing may be. But you have to mesh that with your day job, especially if you’re a journalist and you write for a living. Now, Frye informed her boss that she was writing for Deadspin, but what she published on there would never fly on CSN’s website. It just wouldn’t. Same goes for Tunison and WaPo’s website.

There’s a reason I put my full byline on everything I publish, both in blogs and in print: I want my name to be associated with everything else I do. I can’t write one way for a private blog, another for a sports blog, and then keep the raunchy jokes under wraps when I put on my reporter hat and get printed on paper. Not anymore, it just doesn’t work like that.

Deadspin explains the situation on their site here. Frye is now working for and told her side of the story. Or you can view the original Waxing Off entry by Frye and judge for yourself.

A healthy dose of (NSFW language) warning on those links, of course. But if you didn’t write it, I doubt it’s anything to get you fired over.

Will Leitch, Proud Member of the Mainstream Media

Word came down this afternoon, directly from the source, that Will Leitch will be leaving his post as editor of Deadspin effective June 27th.  He has accepted the position of contributing editor at New York Magazine.

Many thoughts entered my head when I first heard the news.  The first was, what a hypocrite!  Leitch has been such a critic of those in the mainstream press for most of his time at Deadspin and now he finds it convenient to join them?  What a sell out! 

Will he still be able to write “without access, favor, or discretion” now that he has access?  It really made my blood boil that the man who has, on occasion, called the old media, well, old, is now part of the club.  It just didn’t sit well with me…even though I realize the value of both old AND new media.  It just seemed Will would never stray from the cutting edge.  And it appears like he has.

Then I took a breath.

Leitch has done much work for the mainstream press for years.  This is truly an opportunity for him, and no one should criticize him for that.   Anyone who feels they have a better situation before them should take advantage of it.

I wish Will the best.  I just wonder when he will crumble under the demands and constraints the mainstream media will place upon him.  He created Deadspin and didn’t pursue a journalism career for that reason.  It’s a little ironic that he appears to be singing a different tune.  The reasons for which I will leave up for speculation.

SMJ Interview- Will Leitch, Deadspin & God Save the Fan

It’s been a while since we’ve had an interview.  It’s also been a while since we’ve done a podcast.  So let’s do both!

Following our review of God Save the Fan, Deadspin’s Will Leitch was kind enough to fit us in during his busy interview schedule promoting the book.  Here’s our talk…

Our criticisms of Deadspin I brought up in the interview are here and here.  Our criticisms aside, there is no denying that Will has revolutionized the type and style of information we get about sports. He should be credited and respected for it.

SMJ Book Review- God Save the Fan, Will Leitch

Another new feature here at SMJ, one we hope will be useful when you take your next trip to the bookstore.  Our book reviews will consist of those dealing exclusively with the sports media or those written by sports media members.

Our first foray is God Save the Fan- How Preening Sportscasters, Athletes Who Speak in the Third Person, and the Occasional Convicted Quarterback Have Taken the Fun Out of Sports (and How We Can Get It Back), the latest book by Deadspin creator Will Leitch (in bookstores Tuesday, January 22nd).

Those of you who follow the sports blogsphere know all about Deadspin. It’s arguably the most popular sports blog on the Internet.   And all the credit goes to Leitch.

In short, if you love Deadspin, you will love this book.  Unlike other authors, Leitch does not resurrect old Deadspin posts and publish them in book form.   This read is all new material.  And there is no doubt that Leitch’s sense of humor and irreverance comes through.  God Saves the Fan reflects what attracts people to Deadspin, taking fun jabs at the people who play for, own, report on, and cheer on sports franchises.

Leitch takes great steps to detail how he feels players, owners, the media, and fans have evolved within the sports culture of today. He points out that sports today are different from years ago, and these changes are not necessarily good ones.  And much of that has to do with the growing influence money now plays in the world of sports.

Leitch shares many a story, some personal, others forwarded through Deadspin, to illustrate these flaws in the sports world.  He also notes out that we, as fans, hold the ultimate chit in changing these flaws, through our decisions to buy tickets, watch television and patronize sponsors.

I was particularly interested in Leitch’s section on the media.  He details off-the-air encounters by famous personalities, most of which are known to those who visit his site.  He takes shots at ESPN.  And like many of us, points out how its mega growth has clouded its judgement, especially how it covers events based more on promoting the ESPN brand then the sport itself.  He tries to support the case that the World Wide Leader is more interested in controversy and confrontation over informed analysis.  And he points to those who were let go for not heeding the ESPN message.

Leitch does a good job in detailing the problems with sports media today.  Where God Save the Fan falls short is that after all the dissection of the ills within sports and the media, he really doesn’t offer many solutions.  It would have been helpful for Leitch to take the role as head of ESPN and come up with concrete, constructive ways to make ESPN better.  Maybe that will be in God Save the Fan 2.

Leitch is spot on toward the end of the book in his evaluation of blogs and how they are viewed negatively by those in the mainstream sports media.  I agree with him that blogs offer everyone a voice, and that’s important to the discourse of the country.

Leitch has done well by Deadspin and God Save the Fan will be a winner with his fans.  But Leitch missed an opportunity to not just be funny, but to use his influence to do some good in devising ways to make sports better.  That gesture would have not only lent Deadspin more credibility in particular, but by association all sports blogs in general.  That’s too bad.

Why Live Blog?

I consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to trends in technology and the sharing of information.  Heck, I started a blog, didn’t I?

But there is one aspect of blogging that I cannot entirely embrace…the practice of live blogging.

First of all, let’s all agree that live blogging is a misnomer.  Live blogging is by no means live.  I refuse to use the term any further.  Let’s call it what it is…event blogging or, in the world of sports, in-game blogging.   By the time a blogger pens an in-game post and it’s sent to the blog, appropriate time has passed to classify the information as old news. 

I’m not saying that event blogging doesn’t have its place.  If you’re a blogger at an exclusive event, or one that is not well attended,  providing insight from that event adds some exclusivity for the blogger.  The inside scoop if you will.

Much was made last spring when the NCAA came down on Brian Bennett of the Louisville Courier-Journal for providing in-game blogging of an NCAA Regional Baseball game involving the Louisville Cardinals.  Bennett had his credential revoked, with the NCAA claiming he violated a rule of providing “live” updates of an event to which he did not have the rights. 

What I find puzzling is in-game blogging of a sporting event like the World Series.  What information can one blogging from the event provide readers that they aren’t getting from the nationally televised broadcast of the game?  It makes no sense to me.

Looking at the four major newspapers that cover the Red Sox and the Rockies in Game 1, three of the four have blogs for the teams.  Both Boston papers, the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, provided in-game blogging of the Sox’ 13-1 rout of Colorado.  In Denver, only the Denver Post provides a sports blog on the Rockies, but there was no in-game coverage of Game 1.

Back to Boston, Rob Bradford’s Herald Blog provided more than just what was happening on the field.  Bradford mixed in statistics and notes that was probably not noted by Joe Buck or Tim McCarver on Fox.  That’s great, but how many people were glued to their computer monitor waiting for these tidbits?  Bradford could have easily assembled those facts and posted them as part of the Herald’s online post game coverage.

The most disappointing in-game blogging came from the Boston Globe.  In its Extra Bases Blog, reporter Amalie Benjamin used the space to rehash what happened after each inning.  I’m sorry, that’s a waste of good bandwidth. 

The Herald, Globe, and Denver Post do a good job of using their blogs to provide the pre-game flavor at Fenway Park.  That’s cool.  You won’t get that information in too many places.  That has a purpose. 

The newspapers are not alone in providing this useless in-game blogging.  Many independent blogs also attempt the practice.  At least the reporters at the game can provide some insight into the action.  Independent bloggers often provide nothing in terms of pertinent information.  The independent bloggers often use this in-game blogging as a way to criticize and mock either the players, announcers, or both.  Again, why can’t they assemble this material for a comprehensive post-game post?  Why is the in-game aspect a draw?

As much as I don’t think in-game blogging is effective I would never say a blogger shouldn’t partake in the process.  I’m sure if there wasn’t an audience they wouldn’t do it.  It’s just not for me.