The [Monday] Papers
By Steve Rhodes
What does access get traditional sportswriters?
Like most other beats, not much.
Reporting isn't about the opportunity to write down what people say. Anyone can do that.
It's not hard to move with the pack in a locker room and record the content-free mumblings of professional athletes. I know, I've done it.
And whatever insights access does deliver to sportswriters rarely makes its way to the public, so what's the point?
Reporting is so much more, and good reporters turn the equation around and are sought out by those with valuable information to impart. Access isn't bad, but it's not the point - and a good reporter ultimately doesn't need it to do his or her job in the case it is blocked. So be it.
Entire profiles can be constructed by "writing around" your subject. Friends, enemies, public records, news clips, the various means at a reporter's disposal are there to be had. Subjects don't determine a news organization's agenda. A lack of access is just another part of the story; what are they trying to hide?
That's not to say there aren't good questions to be asked of, say, professional athletes.
But I can't say that bloggers do a worse job covering sports teams on a daily basis than beat reporters; often they do a better job because of their fanaticism about stats or (for the good ones) their wit or just because they know how to watch a game.
What professionally trained reporters can do is report - and that's what sportswriters tend to do least. The familiar cycle of game stories, predictable features, and recycling team press releases grew outdated long ago. These days we should expect more imagination and creativity on one end of the scale, and more down-and-dirty serious digging on the other.
"The sixth sidebar from a Bears' post-game locker room should not be mistaken for enterprise journalism," former Tribune veteran Mike Conklin writes today in his first contribution to the Beachwood. "The rush to get us the latest on Jay Cutler's character, Alfonso Soriano's place in the batting lineup, or Ozzie Guillen's most recent, taped tirade doesn't involve real legwork.
"You can almost always bet 'informed sources' is merely someone from the club's PR office or, worse, another reporter."
* A bunch of new stuff that I didn't have time to prepare over the holiday weekend will begin appearing tomorrow.
On A Boender
Aren't you afraid they'll be roaming the streets of Marion once released? they asked.
"We don't have any camels or sand," Butler said, so they probably wouldn't want to stick around.
Co-anchor Jan Jeffcoat's jaw dropped, rendering her unable to muster a response, and I'm not sure I blame her, seeing as how I'm still rolling that one around in my head.
UPDATE 12:50 P.M.: Video of the Butler interview is now up.
I continue to be impressed by GDC, by the way. Before getting Butler on the phone, Danny Davis and Howard Brookins each appeared on set to answer questions about, respectively, a run for Cook County board president and continued efforts at landing a Wal-Mart in the city.
"The Sun-Times went so far as to call this year's festivities 'peaceful' - even while reporting on the arrest of a gang member attempting to carry a loaded shotgun into the Taste of Chicago.
"To its credit, the Tribune went farther, reporting on that incident and several more, including pre-fireworks arrests in the area of Buckingham Fountain after - in the words of a Chicago police spokesperson - 'some sort of disturbance,' and a 30-person gang melee at Michigan and Congress after the show."
Funeral For A Fund
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
The Beachwood Tip Line: Playing reveille.
Posted on July 6, 2009
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