Sunday, September 30, 2012

What Do I Need From the Media?

There was a paragraph in the book Fenway 1912 that caught my attention when I was reading it recently. It was about the media. It made a comment about the media coverage of the Red Sox during the 1912 season. The game recaps tended to be elaborate with flowing details about the color of the grass and the brightness of the sun. Since there weren’t televisions, or even many photographs, the newspaper accounts were the only way people who weren’t at the game had any clue what was going on. Of the millions of people interested in the team, only 35,000 knew what the player looked like that day. Or how the field looked. So, the newspapers had to write novels for their recaps. “The bowlegged shortstop plowed through the muddy terrain in an all out attempt to corral the squirting grounder.” They couldn’t say that Speaker scored on a single, and leave it at that. Nobody knew if it was a close play. Or did the sun cause problems. It made me realize that we don’t need the media to do that for us today. I know that Dustin Pedroia is short. I know that Ellsbury runs like the wind. I don’t need the game recap to tell me that. So, that begged the obvious question. What do I need the media for?

I need basic information. I don’t always see, or listen to, every inning of every Sox game. I don’t see any games of other teams not playing the Sox. So, I need the media to report the winners, losers, and scores, that sort of thing. Maybe an important highlight. Basically, the sort of thing you’d see in an AP article. Those are my bare minimums.

I like in-depth articles too. Feature articles in magazines. A well-written four-page story on Jon Lester would be very nice. One of those newspaper articles that takes up most of the page on Sunday. I would enjoy reading those.

Off the top of my head, that’s probably it. Although, I realize I just eliminated the beat writer. Is that really the case? Do I need anything they provide? I’m not sure I do. I don’t need player quotes following a game. They’re never anything all that earth shattering anyway. Do I need to see a quote from Pedroia after a loss saying they needed to get more key hits? That’s just fluff. I don’t need to know what a players thinks before a game. More fluff.

So, is that it? Am I down to the AP reporter, and Tom Verducci? Is that all I need?

I guess I liked the manager interviews that the EEIdiots had. Well, at least I liked them until everyone was just asking Bobby V whether he was talking to his assistant batboy. But, it boils down to access. I need the media to be there to talk to people that I can’t talk to, and relay that to me. The important stuff. Not the cliché stuff. Not the “I have one more inch to fill in my column, so a quite from Salty on something will let me do less writing.” This is really the trickiest area. Basically, reporters have shown that they can’t do it. Not even a little. Have you heard a press conference? Is there one question that is asked that is even remotely relevant? I need someone there to try…but I’ll need a big filter on my end.

OK. So, the AP, Tom Verducci, and one other reporter. That’s it.

Get rid of the rest of them.


  1. I agree sometimes i'll watch a press conference or read an interview and i'm like "Ask the fucking question"

  2. Group press conferences are evil and you'll never get anything decent out of them -- that's one of the reasons teams hold them, so vague, innocuous questions can be asked, vague, pointless responses can be given, and the team walks away happy.

    The best beat reporters -- and there are good ones out there -- find ways to get quotes that nobody else gets, they talk to players when nobody else is talking to them. I've been in major league locker rooms and I know that there are times when you can talk to players by yourself and not get mixed up in the crowd mentality that produced canned responses from players and coaches.

    But, like any job, you have to be willing to not go through the motions and be creative and resourceful. The majority of media probably doesn't do that, but then the majority of people in any job probably doesn't do that.

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