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Shaughnessy: "We now have a bad connection"

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by WaylonJennings, May 27, 2008.

  1. Today's players are protected from the media by team publicists. There are too many people with media passes. Players don't need us. We are a nuisance - tolerated at best. Interview access is parsed out like a high school hall pass.

    "Kevin Garnett will be available after the game."

    To everyone. At the same time. At the podium.


    It's a good column, for us to read. Not sure about whether fans would get it.

    I spent the weekend with friends, and we talked about our jobs as always. This column struck me because I was trying to explain to them why I'm getting burned out, and the way sports access is handled is a huge part of it.

    But they couldn't grasp that. Because, to them, going to press conferences with 100 people in the room absolutely is THE height of the fantasy. Their dream isn't to eat dinner on the road with Kevin Garnett. It's to shout questions at him in a frothing mosh pit of reporters, to have your question "shown on SportsCenter!!" (Absolutely one of the questions I got this weekend: "Do you get to go to the press conferences?" "Yes." "Wow! Has your question ever been replayed on SportsCenter?")

    To them, where the action is is where you WANT to be. Not what you're trying to avoid.

    To my friends outside the business, going all Michael Silver and spending an afternoon with an athlete or a coach isn't something you do in order to write a better story. It's something that you win in a radio contest.

    It gets tougher and tougher to talk about with outsiders, mostly because there is just such a huge disconnect between what their fantasy of this is and what I feel it takes to do a good job and turn out good work that almost anything I say will come off only as ungrateful. It's a no-win situation for me. I'm sure a lot of you have felt the same way.

    I don't think this is any different from other so-called "glamor" professions. One guy was a lawyer. Everyone thinks he's trying criminal cases and putting away bad guys. He's negotiating worker's compensation packages.
  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Interesting piece. A friend sent it to me to use with my class.
  3. Shaughnessy specifically was speaking about the Celtics teams of the 80's and how he and Bob Ryan were so close with the team. Shaughnessy then tells lots of interesting tales including one about Cedric Maxwell:

    That's a great story but here's the problem - I read the Boston Globe sports section religiously in the 1980's and I never saw Shaughnessy (or Ryan for that matter) bring up the Maxwell story or any of the other stories Chinless mentions. It would be one thing if the writers used to fill the readers in on anecdotes like the one above but if they were keeping them to themselves - for the reader what's the difference? Boo hoo - Shaughnessy and the other writers don't get access and don't get to be chummy with the players. My heart bleeds for him. But what is the difference to the readers if those stories never made the paper anyway?
  4. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

  5. It should be noted that this is the same Dan Shaughnessy who did a story on Jon Lester's no-hitter the morning after the game. The problem is - he wasn't at the game. He watched it at home just like me. Yet the fact that he was not at the game was never mentioned in his story. I guess he didn't need "access" to file that one.
  6. henryhenry

    henryhenry Member

    evil is right.
    the old-fashioned chumminess resulted in zip for readers.

    we're covering sports - not national security.
    relative degree of access is academic - in the end it's not important.

    if a lot of these big stars are ciphers - tiger and jeter come to mind - so what?
    there's plenty of good sports journalism to be done without worrying about having lunch with kevin garnett.
  7. Sure, but it gets tiring and dehumanizing after a while.

    Now, whether that matters to the readers is another matter entirely. Someone raised the point that they don't remember these great anecdotes getting into the Globe in the 1980s. You look back at older gamers then, it's probably the same stuff: "We need to block out better, we just couldn't get our shot falling tonight," etc., etc., etc., zzzzzzzz ... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    But from purely a standpoint of doing this ... yeah, it can really fucking suck this way on a lot of days. Begging for "availability." And someone raises the point that it's just sports and not national security.

    I think that makes it even more annoying.

    Really there is just too much sports media right now. I completely understand the logistics of the rules governing access. Doesn't mean I have to enjoy doing it.
  8. henryhenry

    henryhenry Member

    news flash: sport is dehumanizing.

    athletes are slabs of meat. discarded if they slow down a step or two. if they're dehumanized, why shouldn't you be?

    be humanized off the clock.
  9. beardpuller

    beardpuller Active Member

    I don't need to have lunch with the guys I cover. I would like to be able to ask them questions, once in a while, in a human, one-on-one setting. Even one on two or three (of us) would be useful.
    It's very hard to provide insight and perspective that people can't arrive ast themselves when the only time these guys talk is at a televised (or podcast) press conference.
    I cover an NFL team with a very prominent star. This is going to be my seventh season on that beat. I have as good a relationship with the very prominent star as anybody on the beat. Until about a year ago, I was never quite sure that the very prominent star actually knew my name, knew which one of the middle-aged white guys always hovering around him matched my byline.
    I don't want or need to be the guy's buddy. But that's fucked up.
  10. henryhenry

    henryhenry Member

    doesn't matter if he knows your name.

    don't hover around stars - it's a waste of time.

    cultivate the periphery.
  11. BrianGriffin

    BrianGriffin Active Member

    This is part of the reason why I am fairly content covering a (low) mid-major Division I college team — access and respect. I'm not afraid to earn respect among the throngs at bigger events (and usually, I'll do some national events) but I enjoy not being part of the media herd or BEING the media herd on a beat where, in my little corner of the world, the beat matters despite the lack of a media heard covering it.

    I'm not saying if the right, say, NBA beat came along I wouldn't jump on it in a heartbeat. It's just that the bar is set a little higher for what I would consider to be a "good" job and what I consider to be a "lateral" move.
  12. I cover college kids for four years - five if you count calling them during recruiting - and they walk out of the school never knowing my name. Nor anyone else's on the beat, with rare exceptions.
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