Posts tagged with ‘sports’

Imagined Conversations: NFL & Access Journalism Edition

In which we pull together different voices talking about the relationship between reporter and sources, and discover there’s a grudging admiration for the oft-maligned TMZ.

Brian Stelter: Any time the NFL is the story, the networks’ coverage of the story is very closely watched, because ESPN, CBS, NBC, and FOX all have multi-billion-dollar contracts to carry NFL games. Their news divisions have to cover the news, but their parent companies have to protect their investments in football.

Stefan Fatsis: [I]t’s no surprise that NFL-owned media would tiptoe around stories questioning the integrity and credibility of the NFL. The [Ray] Rice case is a reminder of how the nearly $10 billion-a-year NFL’s rise to cultural prominence has allowed it to shape the message transmitted to fans, both through its quasi-journalistic arms and through multibillion-dollar deals with other media.

Kelly McBride: [But] this is a much different story than if the Super Dome was ready for the Super Bowl or even if the NFL is ignoring the data on concussions… This is a story about the culture of the NFL. It’s hard for journalists because they are a part of the NFL culture.

Margaret Sullivan: In some ways, this is the eternal problem of the beat reporter (or specialized writer or critic): When you cover a subject for many years, familiarity can turn into friendship.

Michael Hiltzik: To a certain extent, journalists have always been at risk of becoming “captured” by their sources, or their subjects; it takes a high degree of professional discipline to fight the magnetic tug, and the best journalists make their careers that way. But the closer one is to the center of power, the less inclined one might be to write a report that will get one bounced from the inner circle.

Stefan Fatsis: [B]y hiring veteran reporters at their proprietary websites and cable networks — at higher salaries than those paid by the newspapers and magazines where the reporters formerly worked — the NFL and other pro sports leagues have managed to reduce the amount of critical daily reporting and commentary. That might not be the direct intention, but it’s the result.

Dave McKenna: The chosen few disseminators of football intelligence are multimedia stars today, with gigs in print and online and on TV and radio, and with huge Twitter presences… The NFL need only filter the message of a very few folks to shape the entire national discussion.

Stefan Fatsis: Like Wall Street and other big institutions, the NFL prefers and… facilitates access reporting. It’s good business. The steady flow of information on the ESPN ticker keeps NFL fans engaged with the product and wanting more of it. As far as accountability journalism is concerned, it seems like no coincidence that the Rice story broke thanks to the gatecrashers at TMZ — a bunch of outsiders who have much to gain from knocking pro football down a peg, and are willing to write checks to buy up the sort of photos and videos that tarnish the NFL’s vaunted shield.

Michael Hiltzik: The sports leagues and companies that set up their own news outlets pretend that their only goal is to provide useful information to fans, customers or members of the public who can no longer get it from a fragmented news industry. That’s a scam; powerful entities have always resented having their public statements filtered by skeptical intermediaries in the press — or worse, having their secrets exposed.

David Zurawik: TMZ did the job the mainstream sports media failed to do in showing us the ugliness of this incident.

Amanda Hess: What makes TMZ so effective? Unlike prosecutors (who hedge their bets to ensure they only prosecute people who juries will convict) and league officials (who are invested in selling athletes as heroes), TMZ has an economic imperative to administer uncompromising takedowns. And unlike traditional journalistic outlets, it’s willing to pay for tips, tapes, and documents to back them up.

Mark Mravic: [TMZ] is applying to sports the hardcore tabloid-type approach that has worked so well for them when they are covering celebrities. And there really hasn’t been an outlet that’s been doing that in sports. It shows what can be done when you can actually start digging around and you’re willing to pay a lot of money for things — if that’s exactly how TMZ is getting these clips.

Michael Hiltzik: That’s why outsiders are often responsible for the biggest news breaks. Watergate was initially exposed not by members of the White House press corps, but by a couple of police reporters named Woodward and Bernstein. The Ray Rice video wasn’t acquired and aired by members of the NFL press corps, but by the scandal-mongering upstart TMZ.

Stefan Fatsis: It’s also fair to say, though, that the Rice video has changed how Roger Goodell’s NFL will be covered going forward. The league’s media lapdogs have started barking, and they might not stop until the commissioner is gone.

Comin’ Down the Mountain

Byron Essert and Alex Tongue skate down the Alps.

What’s in a Flop: “Injuries” and Writhing Time at the World Cup

What’s in a Flop: “Injuries” and Writhing Time at the World Cup

Something pretty interesting has happened to sports opinionating in recent years. You can see it in the torching of Sterling just as you can see it in R*dskinsgate and the fight to end NCAA amateurism and the welcoming of openly gay athletes and the defense of Richard Sherman. A certain opinion — and I’d argue that this is, in nearly every case, an opinion that falls on the lefty side of the political spectrum — is articulated. It surfs Twitter. The opinion builds momentum until it becomes, with a few noisy exceptions, the de facto take of the entire sportswriter intelligentsia (perhaps the wrong word).

That opinion then becomes something like a movement. Pressure is exerted on people and institutions — in this case, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Sterling’s fellow-owners, even Michael Jordan. The sportswriterly consensus doesn’t necessarily match the fans’ take — see the case of NCAA amateurism, where I’m pretty sure the writers are ahead of many or most of their readers. But watching the speed with which this happens has been astounding. It’s something like the sports-page equivalent of community organizing.

Veteran readers of the sports page know that social justice wasn’t always Topic A, and if it was, it was often that only for a few lonely crusaders. What changed?
I feel like I should let you know what you’re in for. This is a long story about a juggler. It gets into some areas that matter in all sports, such as performance and audience and ambition, but there’s absolutely a lot of juggling in the next 6,700 words. I assume you may bail at this point, which is fine; I almost bailed a few times in the writing. The usual strategies of sportswriting depend on the writer and reader sharing a set of passions and references that make it easy to speed along on rivers of stats and myth, but you almost certainly don’t know as much about juggling as you do about football or baseball. We’re probably staring at a frozen lake here.

A few juggling videos are embedded below. I hope they help. We may fall through the ice anyway.
Let the Games Begin
The Olympics kicked off yesterday with some snowboarding and figure skating qualifiers.
Today saw the really big show: Opening Ceremonies.
For those watching tonight, SBNation helpfully provides rules for an Opening Ceremony drinking game. Be careful though, you’ll be drinking for bear costumes, bad Russian techno and ballet (with additional sips if accompanied by Stravinsky or Tchaikovsky). And you’ll drink again if a country’s wearing silly hats. 
Grantland has a rundown on six must see sports to watch. Yes, we’re happy that curling makes the list.
Meantime, Russian officials are fingering Western news organizations over “biased” coverage, specifically Time, The Economist and Der Speigel… along with Google, which has a rainbow Olympic doodle in support of the LGBT community. They’re probably not happy with @SochiProblems either.
NBC, which paid $4.4 billion for US broadcast rights through the 2020 Olympics, plans to stream 1,000 hours of events from Sochi, reports Advertising Age. Livestreaming is part of an overall online and social strategy to tackle the nine to twelve-hour time difference between Sochi and the east and west coasts of the United States.
Security, of course, is and has been an issue at global sporting events. Here’s a great backgrounder on the particulars of the Sochi Olympics from Mother Jones. For online threats, try The Christian Science Monitor. Take the near hysteria around the hackers in waiting stories with a grain of salt though. As Robert Graham of Errata Security explains, a similar story from NBC Nightly News doesn’t quite pass the sniff test.
All that said, bring on the games. Here’s your day-by-day schedule.
Image: A very fashionable Norwegian Curling Team, via Haaretz.

Let the Games Begin

The Olympics kicked off yesterday with some snowboarding and figure skating qualifiers.

Today saw the really big show: Opening Ceremonies.

For those watching tonight, SBNation helpfully provides rules for an Opening Ceremony drinking game. Be careful though, you’ll be drinking for bear costumes, bad Russian techno and ballet (with additional sips if accompanied by Stravinsky or Tchaikovsky). And you’ll drink again if a country’s wearing silly hats. 

Grantland has a rundown on six must see sports to watch. Yes, we’re happy that curling makes the list.

Meantime, Russian officials are fingering Western news organizations over “biased” coverage, specifically Time, The Economist and Der Speigel… along with Google, which has a rainbow Olympic doodle in support of the LGBT community. They’re probably not happy with @SochiProblems either.

NBC, which paid $4.4 billion for US broadcast rights through the 2020 Olympics, plans to stream 1,000 hours of events from Sochi, reports Advertising Age. Livestreaming is part of an overall online and social strategy to tackle the nine to twelve-hour time difference between Sochi and the east and west coasts of the United States.

Security, of course, is and has been an issue at global sporting events. Here’s a great backgrounder on the particulars of the Sochi Olympics from Mother Jones. For online threats, try The Christian Science Monitor. Take the near hysteria around the hackers in waiting stories with a grain of salt though. As Robert Graham of Errata Security explains, a similar story from NBC Nightly News doesn’t quite pass the sniff test.

All that said, bring on the games. Here’s your day-by-day schedule.

Image: A very fashionable Norwegian Curling Team, via Haaretz.

The Olympics Are Coming
Welcome to Russia.
Committee to Protect Journalists: Media suffer winter chill in coverage of Sochi OlympicsIn the run-up to the Sochi Winter Games, official repression and self-censorship have restricted news coverage of sensitive issues related to the Olympics, such as the exploitation of migrant workers, environmental destruction, and forced evictions.
Index on Censorship: A complete guide to who controls the Russian news mediaIn early 2000s various state agencies took financial or managerial control over 70 percent of electronic media outlets, 80 percent of the regional press, and 20 percent of the national press. As a result, Russian media continued to be used as tools of political control but now these “tools” were no longer distributed among competing political parties and businesses, but remained concentrated in the hands of a closed political circle that swore loyalty to President Putin.
Radio Free Europe: Russian Media Tests Boundaries Of State CensorshipIt’s not easy being a journalist in Russia, where attacks against reporters have made it one of the most dangerous places to work, and the government has sidelined much of the free press. Still, some media outlets remain highly critical of the authorities. Their journalists say their main difficulty isn’t so much that they’re not able to report about the country’s problems, it’s that no one’s listening.
Freedom House: 2013 Russia Country ReportAlthough the constitution provides for freedom of speech, vague laws on extremism grant the authorities great discretion to crack down on any speech, organization, or activity that lacks official support. The government controls, directly or through state-owned companies and friendly business magnates, all of the national television networks and many radio and print outlets, as well as most of the media advertising market. Only a small and shrinking number of radio stations and publications with limited reach offer a wide range of viewpoints. In December 2013, Putin abolished the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, which had developed a reputation for objective reporting, and folded it into a new entity called Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), which would be run by pro-Kremlin television commentator Dmitriy Kiselyov and Margarita Simonyan, the head of RT, the Kremlin’s propagandistic international television network. The Kremlin has also increased pressure on formerly outspoken outlets, such as the business newspaper Kommersant, which is now considered to be a progovernment publication.
Image: Cover, The Economist. The Triumph of Vladimir Putin.

The Olympics Are Coming

Welcome to Russia.

Committee to Protect Journalists: Media suffer winter chill in coverage of Sochi Olympics
In the run-up to the Sochi Winter Games, official repression and self-censorship have restricted news coverage of sensitive issues related to the Olympics, such as the exploitation of migrant workers, environmental destruction, and forced evictions.

Index on Censorship: A complete guide to who controls the Russian news media
In early 2000s various state agencies took financial or managerial control over 70 percent of electronic media outlets, 80 percent of the regional press, and 20 percent of the national press. As a result, Russian media continued to be used as tools of political control but now these “tools” were no longer distributed among competing political parties and businesses, but remained concentrated in the hands of a closed political circle that swore loyalty to President Putin.

Radio Free Europe: Russian Media Tests Boundaries Of State Censorship
It’s not easy being a journalist in Russia, where attacks against reporters have made it one of the most dangerous places to work, and the government has sidelined much of the free press. Still, some media outlets remain highly critical of the authorities. Their journalists say their main difficulty isn’t so much that they’re not able to report about the country’s problems, it’s that no one’s listening.

Freedom House: 2013 Russia Country Report
Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech, vague laws on extremism grant the authorities great discretion to crack down on any speech, organization, or activity that lacks official support. The government controls, directly or through state-owned companies and friendly business magnates, all of the national television networks and many radio and print outlets, as well as most of the media advertising market. Only a small and shrinking number of radio stations and publications with limited reach offer a wide range of viewpoints. In December 2013, Putin abolished the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, which had developed a reputation for objective reporting, and folded it into a new entity called Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), which would be run by pro-Kremlin television commentator Dmitriy Kiselyov and Margarita Simonyan, the head of RT, the Kremlin’s propagandistic international television network. The Kremlin has also increased pressure on formerly outspoken outlets, such as the business newspaper Kommersant, which is now considered to be a progovernment publication.

Image: Cover, The Economist. The Triumph of Vladimir Putin.

So This Happened

Largest wave ever surfed? That’s what some are saying with estimates that it crested at about 100 feet.

Via Stab Magazine:

Carlos Burle just rode the biggest wave ever. And, he he did it after saving Maya Gabeira’s life. The two Brazilians were surfing Portuguese ridiculously-big wave spot Nazaré, when Maya failed to negotiate a bump, snapped her ankle and went under. Fast forward five minutes and Carlos plucked her from the water, were she was floating face down. She was revived on the beach.

Once Carlos was sure Maya was making a recovery, he jetted back into the lineup. He rode the last wave of the day, and it was perhaps the biggest chunk of moving water ever surfed.

Want just the money shot? Visit YouTube:

Run Time: ~4:20

What are the Top 100 Grossing Feature Docs of All Time all about?
Stats show that the top 100 documentaries are pretty even when it comes to content and genre. It’s no surprise that biography is slightly in the lead (29/100). These numbers are very significant however, because it shows that there’s no “golden formula” for what documentaries will become box office hits. What matters is the quality of the story you tell and the audience you’re telling it to.—Gabbi 

What are the Top 100 Grossing Feature Docs of All Time all about?

Stats show that the top 100 documentaries are pretty even when it comes to content and genre. It’s no surprise that biography is slightly in the lead (29/100). These numbers are very significant however, because it shows that there’s no “golden formula” for what documentaries will become box office hits. What matters is the quality of the story you tell and the audience you’re telling it to.—Gabbi 

Duct Tape Surfing

From the there’s-something-in-our-eyes department, via Pozible:

Duct Tape Surfing started when Ty said he could surf with me (Pascale) taped to his back.

I have been in a wheelchair for 18 years after a car accident left me a T4 paraplegic. The first time I saw the ocean I was mesmerized and just wanted to live by the water. My two sons have grown up surfing, and watching them has made me want to get in the waves with them. It wasn’t until Ty’s suggestion that I could feel what it’s like to be a surfer.

Since December we have been surfing a lot, using a backpack bought from K-Mart and a roll of duct tape; we even made the front page of the Sunday Mail!

Learn more about Pascale and her surfing adventures on Facebook.

Celebrating Bodies

For the last four years, ESPN the Magazine has celebrated the human form by shooting athletes from mainstream and alternative sports in the buff. They call it the Body Issue.

Here are a few of the athletes that caught our gaze (from top to bottom):

Courtney Force, NHRA funny car driver. 2012 Rookie of the Year.
"When we launch off the starting line, it’s about 3 to 4 g’s, and you’re pulling those g’s all the way to the end until you hit 300 mph. It’s like being strapped to a rocket."

Sydney Leroux, Forward, US national soccer team.
I like that I have a lot of scars. I like that I feel tough. It reminds me of how hard I like to play.

Tara Geiger, motorcross racer. Six-time X Games medalist.
"People assume I’m this gnarly, badass tough chick who wants to beat people up or show the guys that I’m stronger than they are, but that’s not the case. My arms are just like that because they’re a byproduct of my sport. I’m a lover, not a fighter. But yeah, I could probably beat them up if I wanted to."

Images: Via ESPN. Select to embiggen.

Matthew Cerrone: Ep. 4: New Sports Media Podcast with reporter Andy Martino →

Thinking Through Sports Media

matthewcerrone:

Andy Martino of the Daily News talks about why he chose sports journalism, how he got in to the business and changes to his field since he started.

Here are some key take aways from the discussion…

Advice for people getting in to sports journalism: “People were telling me when I was trying to get in to the business, ‘Good luck with that, the business is collapsing, pick something more secure.’ It’s tough for me to responsible say anything differently. It’s true, it’s real tough economically. At the same time, I ignored that advice, because it’s what I wanted to do. I just tried to write for every publication that would let me, for free, for money, whatever. And, I think that’s still the way to go. Pursue it, work real hard. You and I are two people who are not old, who found a way in the new media landscape to make a living doing it. It is possible if you’re not afraid to think outside the box, to work extremely hard all day and night, straight up hard work is important and just going for it and not worrying too much about the practicalities of it. Hard work does lead to opportunities most of the time.”

Scaling Mt. Everest
Twenty-five-year-old Raha Moharrak is the first Saudi Arabian woman, and youngest Arab ever, to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. She accomplished the feat with the first Qatari and Palestinian men to ever reach the peak, and an Iranian man.
The group calls itself Arabs with Altitude and the expedition was made in an attempt to raise $1 million for education projects in Nepal.
Image: Raha Moharrak on being “first”. Mt. Everest aerial view via Wikimedia Commons. Select to embiggen.

Scaling Mt. Everest

Twenty-five-year-old Raha Moharrak is the first Saudi Arabian woman, and youngest Arab ever, to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. She accomplished the feat with the first Qatari and Palestinian men to ever reach the peak, and an Iranian man.

The group calls itself Arabs with Altitude and the expedition was made in an attempt to raise $1 million for education projects in Nepal.

Image: Raha Moharrak on being “first”. Mt. Everest aerial view via Wikimedia Commons. Select to embiggen.

All Lebron Shots: Last 5 Seasons
FJP: Crazy balance.
Image:  Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland. The Evolution of King James. Select to embiggen.

All Lebron Shots: Last 5 Seasons

FJP: Crazy balance.

Image:  Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland. The Evolution of King James. Select to embiggen.