By TED SILLANPAA
It’s funny that I catch flak here for being just another media guy. That’s about the worst thing a reader can say to me because, really, I’m not just another media guy. I don’t travel with them. I don’t hang with them. They wouldn’t know me from their auto mechanic.
Check Twitter and the tweets from all the folks who really are the upper tier of the mainstream Bay Area sports media types. In most cases, they try to show us who they are and it winds up seeming that they don’t realize who they’re working for or why.
I’m not writing here about anyone I work with at The Press Democrat. I’ve been reading Lowell Cohn and Bob Padecky faithfully for years. If anything, when it comes to those guys … I’m Fan Boy, remembering that I admired how they did their job before I was doing anything close to the same job.
The beat writer who consistently complains about it being cold in the press box forgets that you and I would, for the most part, enjoy a seat in the press box regardless of the temperature. We think this writer knows what we care about when he complains about being cold … forgetting that we always sit outside at the ball park. (If that’s the guy trying to let us know who he is … he’s missing the point of how to use Twitter, probably. We don’t get to know the man behind the beat writer if he tweets that the evening’s performance of the Star Spangled Banner was too long or too loud or something.)
Major League Baseball announcers make a big deal about how hard it is for them to call the game from the press box high, high above the Washington Nationals’ ball park. Really? I actually tweeted one to remind him that most listeners would kill for his job and that if he just does the best he can, we’ll forgive him if the distance from the action causes during a radio call of a game.
At the Super Bowl, two female members of the media’s first report from inside the Superdome had them gleeful at the fact that being a female sports writer finally paid off because … there was a separate admission/security line for female sports media members. The women got into the press box without the long wait that men had.
If they’re at the Super Bowl, inside the stadium, that’s what they choose to share with readers? Their security line was shorter? How are readers who couldn’t afford to buy a Super Bowl ticket, let alone jet to New Orleans, receive that little backstage scoop?
Oh, you won’t read about me running around with other members of the sports media clique. First, like mentioned, I don’t hang around with them and they likely wouldn’t want to hang out with me. Second, I know that you know that nothing seems less interesting that, oh, that the Oakland Tribune columnist had beers and wings with a columnist from San Jose and that the writer from Los Angeles is too cheap to pick up the check.
The social media should let us get to know people and how they think. I’m pretty sure that you already feel like you know that the sports media elite lives in a world with problems far different than your problems. So, they aren’t helping us know them by complaining about who picks up the tab when, really, it’s probably all a job expense. You OK with buying your own beers and wings if you get to follow the 49ers around to do it?
The thing that should separate these media folks from us is that they have access to the players and coaches. They should get information that we can’t get. But, really, they almost never get information that wouldn’t leak to us eventually. So, they’re reduced to tweeting and blogging about the things mentioned here and just an endless stream of opinions, opinions on opinions, etc.
Players don’t befriend those people. When I was covering teams regularly, I realized quickly I was finally in a spot where my unwillingness to try to make friends would be no hindrance. Coaches and managers only tell these people what they want them to know. So, what do we get? Rumors that they circulate among each other. We get a Giants beat writer doing a nice job breaking the story that Melky Cabrera failed a drug test and then later apologizing to Cabrera because the player denied the story was true … and, we know, it turned out to be true.
That beat writer is a first-rate reporter, but … he had to make sure he didn’t lose his ability to talk to players so he apologized for reporting the truth about Cabrera before anyone else did. Working for readers might mean losing a working friendship sometimes, I suppose.
The idea that these folks know far more than we do about games and athletes is understandable. It’s just not necessarily true. For us to appreciate that they’re really that good, we need to know more about them than their opinion on the 49ers’ play-calling or the Giants’ bullpen. And, really, I’d be fine if I didn’t read any snark intended simply to incite readers … ever.
And, really, we don’t care if it’s cold in the press box.