Archive for April, 2011
Posted on April 27, 2011 - by ChuckFinder
Jimmer me colored.
Or is it,color me Jimmered?
Whatever, Jimmer Fredette the shining star of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ owned and operated athletic team and institution, the Brigham Young University Cougars, has signed a big deal before school’s barely out.
This sweet basketball guard — College Hoops America’s darling the past season, although his 2009-10 wasn’t too shabby either — has signed with New York-based company Tupelo-Honey Productions. Under the contract, Tupelo-Honey will shoot more than 100 hours of footage over the next 30 days to chronicle his life and times before the June 23 draft in Newark, reported the Sports Business Daily.
Now those are words you don’t expect to see linked with LDS and BYU: signed, New York, footage, life and times, Newark, Business.
Indeed, Jimmer is different, a different breed of Cougar in Provo and around the Mormon world.
I get it that these 30-minute shows, these online and mobile vignettes can reach beyond that Mormon world and fulfill sort of a TV/digital/mobile mission. I get it that it’s a production company owned by Dave Checketts, a BYU graduate and owner of the Real Salt Lake soccer franchise not far from the faith’s epicenter — the Mormon Tabernacle, Temple Square and all. I’ve visited. It is beautiful and compelling and awe-inspiring. Which still leaves me with this disconnect. . . .
LeBron James is one world. Does Jimmer’s dribble cross over worlds that much? Is his sphere of influence bigger than a basketball court? There are 12.5 million Mormons worldwide, less than half in the United States. Will the 3 million in South American and 440,000 in the South Pacific care. . . or even be able to pick it up?
One of the reasons the BYU football team exited the Mountain West Conference and declared its independence: It could place the entirety of its football schedule on BYU TV for its world to see. Another: It could make more than the $1.3 million the MWC doled equally to its members.
On the website of the Deseret News, the LDS-run newspaper where President Obama‘s birth certificate was the top news story Wednesday, the second-most popular tale of the day was: “Jimmer Show on the big screen?” Posted one commenter underneath that tale: “Think of all the kool-aid that will be sold with this deal!!! Oh my GOSH!”
Although I prefer this one: “Coming November 2011 to a yet to be named Broadway theater: Jimmer the Musical.”
And this one: “Jimmer’s laughing all the way to the bank.”
True dat. And dat seems a bit incongruous with his backstory, much less his mission if not the LDS mission. Not to get too religious-philosophical here, but aside from tithing and attempting to spread the word of his faith, isn’t this contract mostly steeped in hype and money?
Webisodes are nice. Online presence is a great marketing tool for the church and, of course, Jimmer. But a long-form documentary made-for-television undoubtedly will cost some network money to air. Tupelo-Honey won’t be paying Jimmer in smiles and pats on the back, and it won’t be accepting said same for its 100-plus hours of work.
Business has met basketball before, but, in the name of Danny Ainge, has it ever collided with BYU and the web and TV documentaries and production contract and big money before even being drafted? Jimmery crickets people, this is Cam Netwon-like with a pre-career Under Armour deal.
Brands are already showing interest, the production people say. Video clips will be made available for sponsors’ sites. LDS meets $$$.
To me, it would make more PR sense and possibly even more marketing cents if there was a religious-based pronouncement along with his contract. Something along the lines of BYU TV getting premiere rights for free, or a charitable aspect to the debut episode, or a series of religious networks carrying the show instead of something more sports-centric and mainstream (who really don’t need more viewers and advertisers). He is a wholesome kid who plays an amazing brand of basketball, a kid who came from Glen Falls, N.Y. and once got recruited for football by Joe Paterno‘s Penn State, a kid baptized in the Mormon faith to which his father converted but his mother, a Catholic, never did. No, his story cannot get away from religion. If he is a man of conviction, perhaps his business handlers should allow him to come out and talk about his hopes and dreams for this marketing contract, for his future.
If it is merely all about the Benjamins, bless him.
But you’d think there is some higher calling inside Jimmer.
Posted on April 26, 2011 - by ChuckFinder
Rule 1 of conducting an interview:
Please, please, don’t assault the media.
No matter even if he is acting like an aesel. (You can figure out that translation, even without your trusty Danish-to-English Dictionary.)
FC Randers coach Ove Christensen is no longer the coach as of Tuesday, the day after he took umbrage at the line of questioning from Denmark TV3+ reporter Rasmus Lund. Perhaps the interview started to veer badly when Christensen, a visage of comportment considering his team just lost to fall into 10th in a 12-team league, replied:
“You can’t expect me to answer your stupid questions.”
It helped none when Lund snapped back: “You could [answer], you just lost 4-0.”
For both sides of the interview equation: This is how-to video about the WORST way to conduct discourse on-air or for publication. Please don’t badger the interviewee. Please don’t strike the interviewer.
Red card for both!
Yes, as you’ll see from the above referenced video, Christensen gave Lund a shot to the right shoulder. Remove that punch, and Christensen handled it not so badly — I would’ve pulled him aside and asked him to insert the Danish equivalent for “irrelevant” rather than “stupid,” and maybe asked him to smile more and seethe less. Still. . . never resort to violence, playful or feigned or whatever. The best answer in a situation like this? Accept blame, make a self-deprecating joke or merely offer, “I’m too emotional to answer right now.” Then again, there always is the America-tried-and-true coach cliche, “I need to watch the tape first.”
Christensen went from Denmark’s manager of the year (their football’s version of coach) to newly fired. A team spokesman rightfully announced that the ouster resulted from his losing record, not the punch. Although the left jab didn’t help.
As for Lund, simply because Randers lost 4-1 right before this shutout by Bronby doesn’t mean civility and etiquette and professional journalism are lost as well. True, this could be the norm in European sports broadcasting, or specifically a Danish soccer-TV thing: antagonistic, edgy, hope-to-get-punched-on-live-television. Lord, I hope not. After all, such behavior smacks of something so. . . ugly American.
Furthermore, you begin to wonder about Lund’s standing among his viewers when you see this video where fans are smacking away his microphone (and what’s with the Lollipop look on that thing?), then draping a flag over his face while on live TV. Fans giving Lund a hard time
So, similarly, Rule 1 for the media: Don’t insult the interviewee, and you might have a better chance of not getting assaulted.
Posted on April 24, 2011 - by ChuckFinder
Mort?! I know Mort. Worked with him long ago at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Chris Mortensen was the Braves writer back then. Now he’s one of ESPN’s resident NFL experts. It can’t be. . . .
What? Not that Mort? Thank goodness.
The writer at the epicenter of the latest fiction-or-fact rage is Greg Mortenson, best-selling author of “Stones for Schools” and “Three Cups of Tea,” in part about him being kidnapped by Taliban members. Can’t type/mention that last title without a snigger. Various critics online have referred to it as “Three Cups of Deceit” and “Three Cups of. . . ,” um, fecal matter.
The above “60 Minutes” investigation last Sunday charged Greg Mortenson with fabricating important parts of his story and dealings. As in: much of it is lies and people are “being taken for a ride,” according to fellow mountaineering author Jon Krakauer. This about a book that sold 4 million copies and was labeled must-reading for U.S. soldiers entering Afghanistan, where the story of his life-changing moments purportedly occurred. (CBS interviewed an alleged Taliban abductor in a Greg Mortensen photo, and the man — a noted scholar — refuted the tale whole cloth.)
Worst of all, Greg Mortenson began a charity to build schools for children in Central Asia, and Steve Kroft‘s “60 Minutes” report opened questions as to whether all if not most of the money raised by his swollen charity is actually going to those schools. The newspaper in Bozeman, Montana, where the non-profit is based, reported that charity officials began investigating late last year allegations that the author is benefiting from donated funds — paying for his travel and such — more than is the organization.
Surprisingly, Greg Mortenson declined CBS’ request for an interview to explain his side or refute theirs. He did offer two statements, but those words accomplish nothing without giving them a voice or a face — especially after he refused to talk on camera to Kroft when surprised/ambushed at an Atlanta book-signing. Both reactions were mistakes. Some strident response is necessary to such a story, particularly when the news outlet is well regarded (not to mention well lawyered).
All his good works — and they are many, as Krakauer and other critics admit — could be lost or buried in decaying school-building rubble in Afghanistan.
Good works. Let’s not forget that phrase. Let’s not belittle it or allow it to be demeaned.
Greg Mortenson, if the allegations of falsehoods are true (an ironic phrase, I know), won’t be the first author to offer fiction as non-fiction. He will not be the last, either.
Author James Frey, magazine writer (and later author) Stephen Glass and then-New York Times writer Jayson Blair all masqueraded fiction as fact. Shoot, I still remember my wife — then a wonderful Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter — on the ground in West Virginia agonizing over how Blair scored an “exclusive interview” with friends and family of hero Pfc. Jessica Lynch, whose family home he wrote was surrounded by “tobacco” fields. Only later did she, and the rest of Tiems readers, learn: Blair made it up.
We as readers want stories that are fabulous, not fabulist. Perception matters significantly when charities and millions get involved.
Distinguish truth from fairy tale. Separate fact from fiction. It falls on the writer to be, well, truthful and journalism-oriented and a good reporter. If you want to tell fiction, please don’t intersperse it with the occasional fact and fail to honestly present it as such. For that, it falls on publishers as well to be accurate, open and that word I use so often: transparent.
In Greg Mortenson’s case, his non-profit has raised reportedly in excess of $50 million. Lie money? That’s wrong, but it’s even worse if schools aren’t getting built or utilized in Afghanistan and Pakistan as the author and his charity say they are.
Relating to the sports realm, fictionalization has been a far-too-frequent argument in recent years. One prime suspect/victim: Mitch Albom. His “Tuesdays with Morrie” found critics and questions early on. His book about Michigan’s basketball stars celebrated them but didn’t delve enough — to suit some — into activities that later got the program in NCAA trouble. He also received a three-week suspension from the Detroit Free Press for an advance-written column placing Michigan State ex-players in the 2005 Final Four stands where they never showed up. While embellishment is successfully acceptable in the fiction world, it is considered a sinful exception in journalism.
Albom continues to be vilified years later, such as last July. That’s when admired columnist Dave Kindred noted that someone needed to “raise hell” about Albom winning an estimable award and giving a speech that harked to conflicts within his work (that Michigan State column) and his previous words of outrage (about Blair’s fabrications). [Links can be found in the Kindred column.]
Jason Whitlock of FoxSports.com, in a column penned for TheBigLead.com, called him “Myth Albom” and the “king of feel-good fairy tales about dead sources, make-believe dead people in heaven, Fab Five basketball players and any other source willing to keep quiet while Albom poured syrup and exaggeration on some cute anecdote.” Tell us how you really feel, Jason.
The short answer is: Writers in all forms of media should be open and truthful. Identify non-journalism work as fiction. Don’t blur lines between newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and books, for that will only cause the reader, viewer and consumer to doubt them all as factual. Keep it honest and, yes, keep it real, then you will avoid trouble, doubt, harsh spotlights and bad business.
After all, what will such PR do for Greg Mortenson’s image, charity and future work?
Posted on April 22, 2011 - by ChuckFinder
Cagefighting is one thing. No-holds-barred wrasslemania, I can understand. Even the occasional Islanders-Penguins fracas becomes intellectually comprehensible, if at the same time also illogical, gory, inane and nauseating. (The latter descriptions are aimed at the fellow who causes a concussion and then taunts said same victim. No wonder Clark Gilles, retired and admired Islanders great, asked if this mug now employed to skate underneath Clark’s banner/number would kindly change his last name to avoid further embarrassment and confusion.)
Anyway, all that stuff is head-wrapable. . ., to coin a new, unwieldy yet still trite phrase.
But putting up your 140-word dukes on Twitter? Tweet-fighting?
Battling one another through the blogosphere? A blog-bath?
Puh-leeze. #Growup. With 121 characters still left. With room for a piece of silly blog art here.
Having spent half a lifetime as a journalist, let me tell you: The skin never thickens enough. You spend so much time slicing open a vein and pouring your blood into most — though impossibly not all — of your work, it becomes a part of you. So you grow emotional. Sensitive. Even defensive about it.
Still, boys and girls, no need to attack. . . even in this climate of negativity and incivility via social media.
Yet here we were late this week with journalist turning against journalist, separated by miles but brought together at the center of the virtual ring by tenacious tweets and bitter blogs.
It happened between a couple of esteemed journalists who probably should know better. Esquire writer Chris Jones, whom I admire, fired back at Slate’s Tom Scocca with a list of his finer magazine work after Scocca used one piece of Jones’ how-to writing to criticize a recently published story. (That’s akin to holding accountable a master painter for an oil portrait he slapped together for a friend and a small fee. That’s comparing a gorgeous, ripe, freshly picked apple with a plastic container of vacuum-packed applesauce. Not that there’s anything wrong with a portrait for a few bucks or a lunch-sack applesauce. Wouldn’t want to offend anyone.)
Then Maury Brown, of the Business of Sports Network, got into Twit-sticuffs (oh, the virtual vocabulary you can invent!) with David Kaplan of Sports Business Journal over a Kaplan report about the NFL labor situation. It was a calling out, too: one journalist questioning the facts and sourcing of another, which is a public undressing of the most sacred and vital parts of the naked reporting body. Take it out back, not in front of non-journalists who will lose respect for both, no matter who, or even if anyone, is right or wrong. This insider barb-trading merely makes the profession look, well, unprofessional.
Each journalist has a reputation, a pristine image to protect — let alone a publication to represent. Blogging and tweeting, ableit performed on a personal stage and separate from his/her media outlet, should be done with both the public and the publisher in mind. Heck, it should be done with your grandmother and your supervisor in mind, too. If they aren’t one and the same. Treat it as a promotional venue, a place for civil discourse, a media stream for friendliness not friendly fire.
Inside baseball, we used to label such a peek under the surface of a business operation.
So you want to throw at one another’s heads in journalism? Again, take it out back. . . out of the social media. Bean each other in emails, texts or even — perish the creative thought — a phone call.
And never in your social media offer anything other than an unemotional explanation to the viewing public: You don’t want to offend or, worse, lose your reader/consumer/customer.
Posted on April 21, 2011 - by ChuckFinder
It’s a catch-all phrase used so often, it can too easily catch-hell.
Frank McCourt asks to borrow money from his broadcast partner, and there’s something about using cash for “personal reasons,” and next thing you know Commissioner Bud Selig is taking over the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise at the heart of the McCourt vs. McCourt divorce.
In that instance, call it “poisonal” reasons. Ah, legal humor. We’re here in court all week, your honor. Try the appeal.
Andrew McCutchen exits the Pirates for one game to return to his home near Lakeland, Fla., and the explanation the club cites: “personal reasons.”
This time, it was more for reasons that were indeed personal, as McCutchen explained upon rejoining the club Thursday. His father was in the hospital. Who wouldn’t want to come to his ailing father’s bedside? Especially considering that he was only a few hours away across Florida in Miami.
It was apparent from news reports, from how the newspapers downplayed McCutchen’s departure, that the “personal reasons” were nothing serious. If it was an injury, there would’ve been reports of limping, medical attention, whatever. If it was an emotional outburst or problem of a professional or personal nature, that would’ve made the rags as well.
No, this was “personal”. . . and “family” would’ve sufficed.
True, the announcement is left to the individual. Oftentimes, the reason may be so personal, teammates and team personnel are sworn to secrecy. . . or just aren’t told. And it’s completely understandable. One example: When then-Penguins goaltender Tom Barrasso was spending time with daughter Ashley battling an insidious form of childhood cancer. An intensely personal sort to begin with, Barrasso wanted to fervently avoid sharing their family matters with the public, and nobody could blame him. Later, it came out, in a way the family could control to some degree.
Not that anything other than positive feelings, prayers or wishes would’ve emanated from the truth being told originally in such a sad tale. Rather, a family sometimes wants and needs to keep its “family reasons” to itself.
Most times in sports, however, there is little need for a shroud of secrecy or doubt. There is no cause to raise undue concern, unsold tickets or, most important, unnecessary attention.
If the individual agrees, offer a transparent explanation. In this case, McCutchen could’ve offered the public statement: a brief leave of absence to see a hospitalized parent. But he didn’t, and he didn’t leave for anything more than one game, either. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had to revert to a “source” report about it being a “family matter,” all of which came off sounding far more sinister and undercover-reported than was truly warranted. Still and all, this was a minor matter.
Let’s instead study the example of a British retailer’s CEO who resigned for “health reasons.” If it were a tale similar to Steve Jobs, whose health has been the subject of internet rumors seemingly since Al Gore invented this place, the business decision takes into account the fact that stock prices and profits/revenues and employment viability might require privacy and concealment, so as not to trigger market fluctuations unnecessarily. But this British CEO, Sara Weller of Argos, exited for her stated if relatively unspecific reason — no health issue was announced – and stocks rose.
No hard and fast rule.
Just consider transparency and truth, albeit private and incomplete, as a viable individual and business alternative.