Monday, December 29, 2008

Dissing the media

One of the questions I sometimes ask professional athletes is: what do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your job? Very often, the answer has something to do with what most people don't see: what they do on a daily basis to keep themselves in the game, or that they're human with feelings.

It just dawned on me that perhaps the players ought to be asked: what do you think is the biggest misconception people have about the media? While for the most part, most of the people we encounter around the game are gracious, accommodating, and appreciative. However, some environments do tend to give off the "media are pond scum" atmosphere.

What is fascinating is what the former pro athletes now media think. They have a much different perspective. They're even annoyed at the former mates that are still playing because they are now lumped into the same "pond."

It isn't just sports. You hear it in politics and every other area of life where things are not going according to plan. Whose fault is it? Not the people actually making decisions or playing the game. It's the media's fault. It's their fault for focusing on the story.

Well guess what? The media, like the players and everyone around the game, are also human. We also have a job to do -- to be the link from the team to the fans. This is where the disconnect lies. Without media, even the bad ones, people outside the rink, pitch, football stadium, and any other playing arena have no reason to follow the team.

There are some media who do a lot of prep work before they even get to the facility, armed with a game plan of getting player A, B, C, D, or E for the first choice, then A, B, C, D, E, F for the second choice and so on. It doesn't help them do their job when the media also has to field insults before they get their questions out.

Media is actually free advertising. Imagine what organizations would have to pay to get the same coverage. Perhaps the only way to let teams and players know why the media exists is for US to go on lockdown. If there was no coverage whatsoever for even one week during primetime, perhaps then the media would just get their questions answered instead of first fielding insults about the profession.

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