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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sportztyme!: Printies, Stick To Your Word Processors

There has always been an unspoken rift between members of the print and electronic media. Print reporters never think they get the credit they deserve for researching and breaking stories… both in news and sports. TV reporters and anchors always scoff at their print brethren for asking inane, long winded questions about backup punters and fourth-string long snappers.

Think about it: the average newspaper column in the sports section might take you 3-5 minutes to read. That 3-5 minutes is an eternity in the world of television. So print media has the ability to be more in depth than TV ever dreamed of being…while TV personalities are instantly recognized and receive far more credit for doing their jobs.

Somewhere in this private civil war, someone thought it would be a good idea to let the newspaper guys (and gals) take their shot in front of the camera. This has spawned a myriad of shows where a face is finally attached to a byline. The problem is the newspaper folks found that microphones have a volume control that their word processors don’t have. And they like it.

The only example of this idea that actually works is Pardon The Interruption, the ESPN gabfest with Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser both of the Washington Post. PTI, as it is commonly known, brings out the best of these two distinguished journalists. They are witty, knowledgeable, insightful… and most importantly, concise. The best part: the producers limit the amount of time the hosts can discuss each topic… keeping things moving and, more importantly, not bogging down the discussion.

But for all of PTI’s positives, there are too many other shows that are nothing but negative. The Sports Reporters puts four columnists on a set at the same time, each believing that the loudness of their yelling is directly proportional to the relevance of their argument. None is a bigger offender than Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News, who I believe yells because he thinks that it makes him sound smarter. And taller.

I don’t mind putting a beat writer on the set to answer some long form questions about a team, player or situation. But these shouting contests disguised as sports forums have got to go. People used to hate Howard Cosell because he talked too much. A lot of those detractors were columnists. Time to look in the mirror folks.

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