Sep
08
2014

Anonymous Sourcing and the Ghost Threat

Bradley Center (cc photo: Jeramey Jannene/Wikimedia)

The use of unnamed sources is widespread, even in places where it’s not necessary. But allowing an unnamed source to levy a threat, without having to put on the record who’s making the threat, is new to the sports venue game.

Feb
12
2014

Michael Sam and the NFL’s LGBT Makeover

Sports Illustrated featuring Michael Sam

Michael Sam may have just announced to the sports world that he’s a gay man, but it seems that it’s the NFL itself that may be forced to come out of its closet.

Jan
27
2014

Richard Sherman’s Winning Rant

Richard Sherman

An interesting thing happened the last few days: A football player was attacked by the same, predictable racism that athletes usually have to endure when they speak out…and he won. Well, he won the game. His team, the Seattle Seahawks, are going to the Super Bowl and (despite a $7,875 fine from the National Football League) an epic post-game rant might net him millions in endorsements. Richard Sherman’s words sent football fans running to social media to voice their approval and disapproval. The disapproval, not surprisingly, was soaked in racism. Deadspin (1/19/14), a sports-oriented blog, chronicled some of the Net’s […]

Aug
07
2012

War Propaganda, Olympics-Style

NBC‘s Olympics broadcast last night included a profile of Grenadian runner Kirani James. The small island is peaceful now, viewers learned, thanks in no small part to Ronald Reagan’s decision to invade. Here’s the clip: (UPDATE: As you can see, someone at NBC is keeping tabs on YouTube, and they’ve taken this down twice. You can watch the segment– along with a shampoo ad– at the NBC site.) The U.S. invasion is described as an attempt to “put down an Communist coup and restore the Grenadian government”; the broadcast goes on to refer to the U.S. “liberation” of the country. In […]

Aug
07
2012

Presidential Campaign as Olympics: Chuck Todd’s Tired Routine

Coverage of national political campaigns is generally pretty bad–a parade of polls, horesrace analysis and fundraising tallies, with pundits doing their best at pretending they’re campaign strategists. Can it actually get worse than that? Maybe. NBC reporter Chuck Todd made that case with a full page article in the Washington Post on August 5 that compared the Obama/Romney contest to Olympic gymnastics. The concept behind it is corny, but even Todd seems to think so. Apparently this is supposed to be, well, kind of fun: “At NBC, to say we have Olympics fever is an understatement,” he writes at the top. […]

Jan
30
2012

Shameless Self-Promotion on NBC Nightly ‘News’

No comment. NBC Nightly News (1/29/12) LESTER HOLT: And a sign of the times tonight on a football field in Hawaii. The NFL is relaxing its strict social media policy and allowing players to use Twitter to interact with fans during the Pro Bowl in Honolulu. There’ll be one designated computer on each sideline, no smartphones allowed. Players will be tweeting with the hashtag probowl. And by the way, you can catch the game coming up next, here on NBC.

Dec
09
2011

Freedom of the Press–When You Own One

“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”– A.J. Liebling Rob Davis of VoiceofSanDiego.org reports on the new owner of his local daily: Doug Manchester, the new owner and publisher of the San Diego Union-Tribune, wants his new media outlet to be a booster. The newspaper’s new CEO, John Lynch, made that clear in an interview with me after Manchester bought the paper November 17. Lynch said he wanted the newspaper’s sports page to advocate for a new Chargers stadium and call out opponents as obstructionists. He’s since revisited those remarks, telling a Union-Tribune reporter that […]

Sep
21
2011

Fox Sports Acknowledges That Lying to Viewers Is ‘Misleading’

Fox Sports, covering a football game between the Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons (9/11/11), put up a bunch of headlines about Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s knee problems: Cutler Leaves With Injury Cutler Lacks Courage Cutler’s No Leader “These are the actual headlines from the local papers in Chicago,” announcer Daryl Johnston declared. Wow, were the local papers really that harsh? Reporters from the Chicago Tribune remembered the press being pretty supportive of the injured player, actually, and accordingly suspected funny business. After their search of papers all over Illinois turned up no such headlines, Fox Sports admitted they had just […]

Sep
15
2009

Intersex Athlete Boggles ‘Ill-Informed. . .Predatory Press’

Thomas Rogers of Salon‘s Broadsheet (9/10/09, ad-viewing required) reports that world champion South African runner Caster Semenya recently “was tested (possibly without her consent) by the International Association of Athletics Federations” and “now the results of her gender testing have leaked, and, if the reports are to be believed, they show that she is, in fact, biologically intersex.” After an informative look at the real biological meaning of the test findings that “led some media outlets to call her a ‘hermaphrodite‘ (and some even more inaccurately calling her ‘a woman — and a man‘),” Rogers writes that, to him, Caster’s […]

Sep
14
2009

TV Sports’ ‘Little, Teeny-Tiny, Super Cute White Hope’

Intern Katy Kelleher at the Jezebel.com blog (9/9/09) has made a worthy attempt at “unpacking all the different levels of sexism and racism that are operating subtly behind the scenes” in recent coverage of professional women’s tennis. On the new stardom of relatively diminutive and white Melanie Oudin, Kelleher remarks that “her accomplishments are definitely praiseworthy, but there is something off about the way she is being celebrated”: She has been called the “darling” of the U.S. Open, America’s “sweetheart,” a “pint-sized, freckled-faced blonde from Georgia,” the “tiny little savior of women’s tennis,” everything it seems, save tennis’ “Great White […]

Jul
10
2009

Sports Media Sexism ‘Infuriating’ and Just Plain ‘Tired’

Sports media critic Dave Zirin has posted on his Edge of Sports blog (7/6/09) about Wimbledon tennis tournament host All England Club having “blithely admitted that for women players ‘physical attractiveness is taken into consideration’ when it comes to court assignments” and how “several players, including some of these ‘easy-on-the-eye unknowns,‘ were upset with the setup”: But much of the media dismissed the story as unimportant. L.Z. Granderson, a normally sane voice in the ESPN archipelago, wrote a column in which he stated simply, “I don’t see the harm.” After conceding the obvious–that the policy is sexist–Granderson played devil’s advocate: […]

Mar
20
2009

Sports Mag’s 3 Strikes: Racist, Sexist, Homophobic

Journal-isms writer Richard Prince is highlighting (3/19/09) an article in the current issue of GQ headlined “You Think Your Job Sucks? Try Working for Lenny Dykstra”–the title of which might be an understatement, considering some of its reporting therein: A photo editor’s unflattering portrait of baseball-player-turned-financial adviser Lenny Dykstra as a racist, sexist and homophobe has prompted an African-American NBA official to call for a boycott of Dykstra and the magazine he produces. In the upcoming April issue of GQ, already online, Kevin Coughlin recounts his experience working for Dykstra’s glossy magazine, the Players Club, which offers athletes financial advice […]