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Kevin Durant, Greg Howard, Ramona Shelburne and the answer for the media scrum

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Alma, Feb 15, 2015.

  1. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    More and more athletes, perhaps egged on by Marshawn Lynch's stance, are giving aggressive/defensive answers in press conference.

    Kevin Durant did this here. A quote from his answer:

    "To be honest, man, I’m only here talking to y’all because I have to," Durant said. "So I really don’t care. Y’all not my friends. You’re going to write what you want to write. You’re going to love us one day and hate us the next. That’s a part of it. So I just learn how to deal with y’all."

    Deadspin, which has started a habit of championing such answers, did so again here. A quote:

    "We're fine with this, because what's been highlighted over the last few months is just how worthless so many in media are. Instead of working to foster relationships or at least ask interesting questions, many reporters can only muster a brief, "Tell me about..." and then wait for the athlete to write their article for them. It's lazy and wholly unnecessary to sports or media consumption, and should be treated as such."

    Ramona Shelburne had a series of tweets about the media scrum, which was collected here. A quote:

    "This is going to sound odd and undemocratic, but one of the problems is there are entirely too many people being granted credentials."


    It's pretty simple really, we gotta get back to treating the athletes we cover as people, not quote machines

    Now I'll ask a few questions, because I'm genuinely curious.

    -Do you think Kevin Durant's answer is in reference to being irritated by the media scrum?

    -Is being asked about the job security of a coach an example of, as Shelburne notes, an example of the kind of "sensitive" question that should be asked one on one?

    -Do you agree with Greg Howard and Deadspin that many in the media are "worthless?"

    -If credentials should be limited, who should get them? Which outlets get them all the time? Which ones have to stay home? Should the media take turns?

    -How would you solve the media scrum at a press conference? Would you do away with it? Create one pool reporter who gets to ask however many questions?

    -Does self-policing work? What does media self-policing look like?
  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    I do not have an answer so I won't say much - but I agree something has to be done. It has become a zoo. I covered the Winter Classic and that was a zoo. The NHL, Caps and Blackhawks managed it quite well but it was still a zoo. I can't imagine what some of these events have become.

    Curious to read what others think and see if anyone has a real solution.
  3. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    I don't know if "too many" people have become credentialed, but a lot more have become credentialed. MLB in the hinterlands now has regular season scrums as large as those that used to be exclusive to New York. A lot of people with season credentials have no experience in covering a beat and aren't breaking in under anyone who can teach them. As a result, they think "covering" means rushing to anyplace there's a scrum, holding out a recorder, then transcribing whatever is said. I can see why players avoid making themselves available as much as possible. You stop by the locker to grab your glove and a simple hello can instantly turn into a swarm of 30 people.

    Durant's quote doesn't make a lot of sense. "Y'all" were never there to be friends with the players, and I think most players understand that. I'd rather have a player do media out of a sense of duty than the misguided notion that I really have a personal interest in how his hamstring feels.
  4. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Deadspin is the new Dan LeBatard.

    Honestly, there are valid points to be made about the size of the scrims. But Deadspin is flat-out pandering.
    Joe Williams and Mr. Sunshine like this.
  5. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I would contend that Kevin Durant has not learned how to deal with us all...at all.

    His quote -- the words and the tone -- actually sounds suspiciously similar to the parent's lament that "You only cover us when..."

    Relationships are a two-way street, and Durant's "solution" and the way he throws it in the faces of media personnel will hardly make him any "friends." His quote and others like it occur because the power -- such as it is -- in the relationship between sports figures and the media rests with the athletes, and they know it, and, basically, they're doing this because they can, and don't feel like "dealing with" the media at all. Treating them "like people" won't make any difference unless media-handling changes in general to become less regulated, not more, by teams/PR people.

    Scrums are a natural occurrence in the course of mass media. Durant should realize that media people are talking to him only because they "have to," too, even if the context of the requirement to participate is different. It's their job, there's all's kinds of competition and most are forced to join the fray for what would otherwise be a lack of other timely opportunity to speak to someone whose every move involving media is typically strictly limited, regulated and sometimes enforced with "minders" or at least PR eavesdropping.

    The best way for both sides to handle things is be adults and do their respective jobs as courteously, as professionally and as thoughtfully as possible. It's not that hard.
  6. SnarkShark

    SnarkShark Well-Known Member

    I am just so tired of athletes complaining about talking to media.

    We're not talking hours of time. We're talking about minutes. It's an obligation that is part of the equation of being a professional athlete.

    If you don't like it, fine. Just fucking deal with it for the 10 minutes you have to and leave.

    I have things that my gig requires me to do that I don't like. I'm sure almost everybody does. Guess what? We do it, because that's part of our jobs.
  7. Mr. Sunshine

    Mr. Sunshine Well-Known Member

    But all the complaining is great for the media's primary obsession: navel-gazing.
  8. TopSpin

    TopSpin Member

    To quote Col. Nathan Jessup: “I’m an intelligent man, but I’m afraid I can’t speak intelligently on Kevin Durant’s point of view of a media scrum.”

    Affirmative in a perfect world.

    Still, I think it’s a fair question since Durant is the team’s star player and face of the franchise (apologies to Russell Westbrook, but it’s true). It’s no secret Brooks catches flak from some of the fans about how this team can’t win a championship despite the talent, so getting Durant’s perspective is good. Would be nice to know the actual context of the question, however.

    Depends if that segment of media members are saying they were on a helicopter taking RPG fire.

    If anything, I agree with Howard on the “Tell me about” and "Talk to me about" aspects. I hate that lazy crap. Some reporters in the scrums need to learn how to ask a real question.

    That’s a question best suited for a team’s or league's media relations department since they're the approval authority. Hell, journos actually serving a journalistic purpose all want to be credentialed.

    This is the tricky part because media scrums have grown over the years with the increasing limited availability of some players.

    For example in the NFL, star players are made available during the week in accordance with the league’s media policy “at least once” during the practice week. Good luck getting a one-on-one outside of the scrum attended by a watchdog staffer on a clock. And even better luck waiting for the scrum to end to try and chat with the player away from everybody else. In most cases, the staffer will stop you dead in tracks.

    One of the biggest problems I see with a typical scrum is what Ramona Shelburne pointed out on Twitter: “In any given press conference now, at least half the people there are just hanging out or asking questions to hear themselves talk.”

    The problem is you can’t do away with it if that player is rarely present in the locker room on any given week.

    A pool reporter isn’t a bad idea.

    I can’t speak for others, but I’ve attempted this after a locker room session when one reporter decided to take over a scrum early and fired away with question after question after question and wouldn't let anybody get in. He was all over the place.

    Now, I’m sure he had some story angle, but what a player ate for breakfast to what he would tell fans about his overall game seemed out in left field in the grand scheme of things. I pulled the reporter aside and voiced concerns in a respectful manner that he basically took up all the allotted time and a lot of us didn’t get a chance to get our questions in before the team staffer ended the presser. That reporter basically told me to screw off.

    Guess the self-policing didn’t work.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2015
    EddieM likes this.
  9. EddieM

    EddieM Member

    The scrums, questions, and general post-game/pre-game atmosphere is so increasingly dehumanizing that I don't blame the athletes for the blow-back. Especially in a world where the relationship is no longer as symbiotic. Between social media, team websites, 24/7 TV highlights, and platforms galore on which to express themselves, athletes aren't as reliant on Beat Writer Bob to build their brand or their sport. So when Bob, and a stampede of reporters (many of whom behave as if no courtesy is necessary in these situations) invade their time and space, I feel like a little animosity and distancing is natural.

    I think it hurts our feelings to realize we might have to work harder to be necessary. I think it hurts athletes' feelings that they still have to suffer through an archaic system.

    At this point, I'm not sure the public suffers that much if we dramatically downsize the size of scrums and pressers pre- and post-game. All of those quotes are immediately available for public consumption. What the writers need to do is find new ways to build relationships so they can get the (attributed) quotes everyone else is missing. What the players (and coaches) should consider, in my opinion, is negotiating for less media obligations in future CBAs.

    tl;dr: The symbiotic beat writer/baller relationship, like the gamer, is dying. Both sides need to adapt or die with it.
    FileNotFound likes this.
  10. wheels89

    wheels89 Member

    Well it was Deadspin who did buy LeBatard's Baseball Hall of Fame vote
  11. Sports Guy

    Sports Guy Member

    I think Durant has been annoyed with the media ever since the Daily Oklahoman posted the 'Mr. Irrelevant' headline during last year's NBA playoffs, after Durant was the season MVP. He shouldn't lump all reporters into the same realm, just because a few asked him questions about Scotty Brooks' job security. Really, its media types trying to scoop each other with a breaking story, and All-Star weekend isn't the best venue for a player talking about his coach.
  12. MeanGreenATO

    MeanGreenATO Active Member

    Alma makes a good point. Even thought it's only been Lynch, Westbrook and Durant to show hostility toward the media so far, it just feels like it's happening more and more. As someone that is still fairly young in this wonderful business, what do y'all think the long-term effects will be if the trend continues?
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