When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

Tracie Marcum with Lou Jones on "The Moment."

Tracie Marcum with Lou Jones on “The Moment.”

There’s a certain I-think-I-can-ism that television seems to facilitate with regard to sports. Maybe it’s the angles or the way long shots compress scenes or simply how the sideline reporters just walk up to coaches during a game to discuss strategy. Professional sports now appear so doable on TV that fans are making the leap to participation.

After a TV viewer was allowed to drop a dime on Tiger Woods at the Masters last week, you have to wonder what’s next. I mean, can I directly text Lebron James at halftime the next time I notice that his elbow is splayed a little more than usual on his jump-shot release? Or can I Tweet manager Eric Wedge the next time the super-slo-mo on FOX reveals the grip on Felix Hernandez’s cutter is slightly off?

Actually, I do know what’s next. I watched the premiere of USA Network’s “The Moment,” a show that inflates the hopes and dreams of America’s overlooked mediocrity. The fact that I never was tall enough or talented enough, and am now about 30 years too old, to play point guard in the NBA doesn’t really matter anymore. As long as I have a friend, spouse, family member or even some random TV viewer who will nominate me for a reality show, my dreams maintain their shelf life.
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Citation Journalism and the Blurring Lines in Reporting

A report that was disappointing in more ways than one.

A report that was disappointing in more ways than one.

Last Saturday, I saw a front-page tease on The Seattle Times that stirred my heart: The newspaper was reporting that one of my childhood idols, Spencer Haywood, had been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

But by the time I went to read the story on the newspaper’s website later that day, things had changed.

“Spencer Haywood not selected for basketball Hall of Fame,” was the only headline I could find.

Huh?
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The Seattle Times’ Digital Tin Cup

Digital disaster?

Digital disaster?

One of the few places I still spot print copies of The Seattle Times is lounging, in news boxes, on street corners like lonely, aging prostitutes, whom I imagine are contemplating how they might reinvent themselves or turn back the clock for another pay day.

The latest attempt at such is to begin charging for digital access, a move announced Sunday in a column by David Boardman, the newspaper’s executive editor.

This is not a novel idea. As Boardman points out, more than 400 daily newspapers across the country have instituted some kind of digital pay wall. That The Times has waited to make itself No. 400-plus on the list does not portend well for future success.
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Terms for the Plugged-In

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I’ve been working on the Internet since 1999 — a relative Stone Age, for some. Times — and vocabulary — was so much simpler. At the 2012 Seattle Interactive Conference, I’m learning that the language of the Plugged-In has expanded considerably. To navigate the digital landscape, you now have to be familiar with the following concepts. Feel free to comment or message me with additions; I don’t pretend this is a comprehensive list.

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Sucked into an Epic Downfall

Lance Armstrong: Stripped

This post originally appeared at SeattleWeekly.com. It also was referenced at JimRomenesko.com, the popular and influential media blog.

At least Lance Armstrong has his health. He kicked cancer’s ass, but there otherwise isn’t much silver in the lining through which so many others are being sucked. As Armstrong is stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after losing lucrative sponsorships and even his perch atop LIVESTRONG, I wonder what you tell the kids who defied the Charles Barkley maxim (“I’m not a role model”) and adopted an utterly human, and therefore unfailingly imperfect, sports figure as a hero. Because I’m a sportswriter, I’m mainly pondering one of the best of us, Sally Jenkins, whose role in diversifying one of the last of the holy male sanctums – the locker room – qualifies her for pioneer status.

Jenkins is a sports columnist for the Washington Post who has written for Sports Illustrated, been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and occupied the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best seller list. She also closely hitched her star to Armstrong’s by penning with him two books, “Every Second Counts” and “Not About the Bike.” I wonder if she consequently will—and should—be sucked into the draft of Armstrong’s nosedive. Because of Jenkins, we knew more about Armstrong than most athletes of his stature. Readers gained this perspective because Jenkins made a deal as old as her craft: access in exchange for a blind eye, either permanent or occasional.

This isn’t to claim that Jenkins knew the truth about Armstrong’s alleged doping activities. But, at the very least, she was in a position to view flags which were red as the blood Armstrong was supposed to be altering. Was Jenkins therefore obligated to employ more skepticism while sketching such overwhelmingly flattering pictures of Armstrong?
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