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Bill Simmons' take on the state of journalism

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Michael Echan, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. Michael Echan

    Michael Echan Member

    I know everyone loves to rag on Simmons, but I felt this was interesting enough to post (taken from his 12/11 column):

    ,,,Of course, he also relished the spoils that came with his immense fame ... and that's where it became a problem. On Thanksgiving night, the superstar who controlled everything suddenly had something he couldn't control. The subsequent two weeks illustrated, in ugly detail, every problem with journalism right now. There are no lines anymore. There is no middleman or filter. Stories change constantly, sometimes four or five times per day, and the accuracy of those stories doesn't totally matter as long as there's a story in the first place. Yesterday, three different friends forwarded me a clip of a porn actress bragging for 90 seconds about an alleged tryst with Tiger six months ago. Not exactly the most credible source.

    Did I watch the clip? Of course. I couldn't help it. The source of information no longer matters, just the information itself. We all do it. We all send the e-mails and texts, and we all read them.

    Watch this, this is probably not true but still crazy.

    Read this, might be a kernel of truth in here.

    This would be so funny if it's actually true. ...

    Now, I'm not saying that what he thinks is the truth of the matter, but I felt it was fairly thought-provoking. The fact that a media outlet like TMZ.com even has the illusion of being a "credible" source of information is pretty sad. What is everyone else's take?
  2. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    First, Bill Simmons complaining about no middleman or filter has sent the Irony Police to his door. Bill Simmons is on this board complaining about getting ready to lose his copy editing job if the Internet, with its lack of middlemen or filters, doesn't exist.

    Second, the problem is not journalism. It's what readers are demanding. If Bill Simmons is watching the clip, that only encourages the TMZs of the world to put it up. Anyway, journalism has always had its black sheep. Also, there's one other problem, one that grew out of the National Enquirer being right about its OJ stuff back in the day -- you can't dismiss ANYTHING out of hand. Just like you can't believe everything you read or see on first draft. And if you're, say, the New York Times, how do you NOT at least check into all the stuff flying around about Tiger, especially if it's already caught fire online? You can't just pretend it's not there.
  3. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I need a lecture from Simmons about present-day journalism like I need a hole in my head.
  4. OnTheRiver

    OnTheRiver Active Member

    I've got a 10,000-word piece about how that hole in your head is a lot like the second and third "Karate Kid" movies.
  5. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Better include some references to blackjack and Sam Bowie and make it 15,000.
  6. BRoth

    BRoth Member

    The problem I have with this - and people complaining about the coverage of Woods - is this is what happens when you're a celebrity. You willingly give up your right to have as much privacy as you want. That's not to say celebrities aren't allowed privacy, I just mean that when you are an all-world actor or athlete, you are allowing people the right to have/want/request/etc. access to you 24/7. Sadly, it's what people want. There's a reason why talking heads take up so much time on TV. People want opinions and entertainment.

    I imagine it's easy for Simmons to complain about things when he has a very minimal journalism background.

    I will say this, though. Whatever your feeling is on the Woods' story, TMZ pursued this story with reckless abandon and probably did a better job than everyone else. For all the crap they "report," when they want to do a good job, they do.
  7. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Well, he didn't mention again how the Herald was mean to him and how he never got a shot at being a columnist. So that's good, I guess.
  8. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    Part 2 of that column is coming tomorrow. Stay tuned...
  9. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    The Sam Sheppard case disagrees with Bill Simmons.
  10. Sneed

    Sneed Guest

    So that just makes it OK that sites like TMZ do things to get this information that should get people arrested for stalking and invasion of privacy?

    I don't doubt there's a time and place for such recklessly relentless reporting, but I'll never agree that it's right to subject athletes and celebrities to such scrutiny. Never. Ever. Ever. Political figures and people that we as American taxpayers place in office? Absolutely. Investigate the mess out of them. They're working on our dollars. Rip them to shreds if they go all Tiger Woods with our money.

    But Woods is just an athlete. Maybe he's a pitchman -- was a pitchman -- for myriad products and maybe he became the first $1 billion athlete. I've bought Gatorade, maybe even subconsciously because he pitched it. I watched him win the US Open on a broken leg. I've bought his video game.

    Does that mean the public has the right to know how many women he's cheated with? Does that mean they have the right to know if his wife was rescuing him with an iron through the back window or if she was attacking him with it?

    No. No. No. Absolutely not. No more than the public deserves to know what I've done if I've cheated on my wife. Just because my byline is public in newspapers and magazines doesn't mean that my private life is public.

    The problem here isn't that Woods and his wife are having problems. It's not that people want entertainment. It's that many media entities latch onto these things like leeches, because they know that's what people want. They know that since people want it, if they report it, people will buy the product. As much as everyone's ripping Tiger, the media outlets that are publishing all of these details about what he's doing couldn't be more thrilled. Sites' hits are skyrocketing. Papers' sales are soaring.

    They are marketing Woods as much as Gatorade once was. They're just marketing the bad side of him.

    Here's some news: giving people what they want all the time never works.

    So to sum up, it's ridiculous that anyone should believe that anybody deserves to know anything about Woods or his personal life. Or Britney Spears' personal life, for that matter.
  11. BRoth

    BRoth Member

    Agreed. I don't think it's necessary either, but there's also a reason why we have 20 different gossip magazines by the grocery check-out line. People eat this shit up.
  12. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    But there is a reason that Elin Nordgren was a household name, or at least a recognizable face as Tiger's wife, before this scandal broke. Tiger trotted his family around as part of his brand, and the image he built helped him to become a billionaire before the age 40.

    There are a handful of mega-celebrities who you never see in the gossip rags. Matt Damon is an internationally recognized superstar. Like Tiger and only a few other athletes, Damon would be recognized on site from New York to Mumbai to Bhutan. But he's almost never in the rags because he zealously guards his privacy and does a good job of it.
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