What Would Buddy Do?
Domo gets it almost, but not quite, correct in re: the pressers
Posted on December 24th, 2008 at 12:05 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Real, real solid piece in today’s papers by Paul Domowitch about the incident in Detroit with journalist Rob Parker and Lions’ coach Rod Marinelli

Domo did a nice job of tethering the Detroit kerfuffle to the ongoing frustrations of Eagles’ fans (and the local balthertatriat) with the tone of Andy Reid’s interactions with the press.  Certainly worth a read.  Domo explains that he gets a lot of e-mail demanding that he and the rest of the blathertariat ask tougher questions of Reid, and insists that he and others actually do ask tough questions.  Domo gets most of it correct — I certainly believe that they ask tough questions — though I don’t entirely buy his characterization of the pressers (below): 

Once upon a time, nobody paid much attention to coaches’ news conferences unless somebody was being hired or fired or comparing the feeling of a loss to someone breaking into his home and sodomizing his wife and kids (Ray Rhodes).

That was before Comcast SportsNet. That was before the Internet and video streams and YouTube.

Now, news conferences have become reality shows. People watch them every week the same way they watch “The Hills” and “Flavor of Love.” They are looking for action. They are looking for confrontation.

After a loss, they don’t want no stinkin’ tough questions. They want my Daily News colleague Les Bowen throwing a shoe at Big Red. They want Comcast SportsNet’s Derrick Gunn giving him the finger. They want Bob Grotz, of the Delaware County Daily Times, asking him why his wife insists on sitting in on every damn postgame news conference, home and away.

They want Rob Parker or somebody like him stirring the pot and trying to make the coach lose his cool and say something he’ll later regret.

Now that’s real hard-hitting journalism.

So what he seems to be arguing is that the people don’t actually want tough questions in the press conference — they crave histrionics.  And Rob Parker is giving them exactly what they want: tabloid sports coverage (akin to “The Hills” etc). 

Some comments here:

1.  There is nothing more boring than listening to the reporters complain about the press conferences.  We’ve been over this before.

2.  I don’t consider it outrageous at all to characterize sports as cheap reality TV.  I mean, maybe not cheap — this thing has a HUGE TV contract, but let’s not forget that this is all entertainment, and it can rightly be described as Brad-and-Angelina for the Male 18-to-54 set. 

3.  I think the argument above makes sense for the out-of-town fans.  Did I watch the Marinelli clip on YouTube (after seeing links on The Big Lead and Deadspin and PFT)?  Of course I did.  (Same as the Shaun Ellis snowball thing, etc etc.)And I love the trashy tabloid stuff on those sites — but only when it’s not the team I care about.  For the national audience, this stuff sells.  

4.  For the local stories, I’m going to have to accuse Domo of not giving us enough credit.  Or, rather, of generalizing a bit.  I watch all the pressers.  All of them.  They’re my favorite TV show.  What can I say — I really like the Eagles, and I love that I get direct access to their content.  And I watch them so that I can make my own decisions about what the guys running the team are thinking and saying.  I don’t want incidents (though I giggle when they ask Dunavin about smiling too much — that kills me). 

4a.  Still, I listen to WIP, and I know that the tasts of the fans are…diverse.

5.  The unspoken/ unexplained element of Domo’s article is that the broadcast of those pressers further disintermediates an already threatened local press corps.  That is, why do we need them to take careful notes and write a story in the paper if we can watch/ read the precise quotes on the Birds’ site?  With the live video, the blogs, the local TV coverage — all of this threatens something that was once a differentiator for the local print media: access to the press conferences.  They still have the locker room, but Dave Spadaro and co. are working hard to film a lot of those interviews as well. 

5a.  And in a world where the newspaper biz is on life support (I assume I don’t have to explain why?), I have to feel for a guy like Domowitch: a total pro whom I respect a ton but whose world is imploding around him.  There will not be a Daily News and an Inquirer in 18 months (probably sooner, in all honest); there will be one local newspaper, and it’ll be thinner and lighter on local coverage.  So we feel for you, Domo, we do.  You guys deserve a bit better.       

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