By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
The Bayou Paper Chase
The coverage of the playoff series between the San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Hornets from the Times Picayune staff can only be described as “lackluster” at best and “shoddy” at its finest. But what really brings the coverage down is a little article entitled, “History lesson: Top 10 Spurs ‘questionable’ plays“.
David Gladow, a Times Picayune sports reporter, wrote the article or blog.
Or should I say blogger because so far I have yet to really see anything productive from Mr. Gladow in the coverage of this series and this is an example of why this coverage seems to be very unprofessional.
If you haven’t had a chance to read the story and look at the videos that are posted up there, take a moment and do so.
From a pure sports writing perspective, what Mr. Gladow has done was nothing short of what I would expect from a blogger at the AOL Fan house site covering the New Orleans Hornets.
What Mr. Gladow has done was highlight what he considers ten “questionable” plays by the San Antonio Spurs. In this selection is Tony Parker’s music video that he did a while back, several incidents involving Bruce Bowen and other players, the Robert Horry hip check on Steve Nash, etc.
There is such a thing as being a homer but when you are supposed to be covering a team, homerism is what makes you unprofessional because you cannot be objective.
To say that this article is good journalism under any sense of the standards for even blogging is absurd and the Times Picayune staff should be embarrassed that this even got to be posted.
Many a journalist has been fired for shoddy workmanship and this is a definite case.
Where is the analysis of the questionable plays?
Where is the back-story on why this article was even developed in the first place?
This story has no substance to any of the allegations because it simply plays on the preconceived notions of the readership; many who are already thinking that Bruce Bowen or Robert Horry are dirty players and that the Spurs as a whole are a dirty team.
Yet here is the irony in this whole scenario.
This isn’t the only story that is like this and Gladow isn’t the only writer who has come accustomed to laying out bait traps to get readers to respond to their stories about this series.
Let’s call it for what it is.
It’s rivalry baiting.
The Times Picayune staff, at least from the sports department, is trying to manufacture a heated rivalry between the Hornets and the Spurs because in order for the Hornets to really matter in the NBA media coverage world, they need a bad guy as a villain and who better than the Spurs.
It’s an interesting thought huh?
Interesting and far more believable than the aforementioned story written by Mr. Gladow.
Think about this for a moment.
The San Antonio Spurs have rivalries in both conferences of the league.
There is the Cleveland/San Antonio rivalry because of the coaching connections, front office connections and because the Spurs played the Cavs last year in the Finals.
There is the Texas triangle rivalry between the Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets that is more than just an Interstate rivalry.
There is the Los Angeles Lakers rivalry that is near legendary.
So is the Utah Jazz series.
As a matter of fact you can almost throw in the Seattle Sonics, the Grizzlies and definitely the Phoenix Suns.
The Spurs probably have ten or twelve rivalries as a team with some good and not so good teams but the one rivalry they do not have is one with New Orleans.
Granted, rivalries have to start somewhere and usually that some type of precipitous play that involves one superstar and granted, this may become one of the bitter rivalries, starts them.
However what marks the Times Picayune as manipulators in the rivalry formation is the coverage of the series.
What makes really good sports coverage, especially from a city newspaper, is to be able to show both sides of the story.
When I look at the Times Picayune website, NOLA.com, I don’t get a sense of balanced coverage.
The coverage is very one sided and at times very much opinionated by all who are covering the series.
That’s not good journalism.
Least not in my eyes.
I’ve looked at the series coverage from the San Antonio media, namely that of MySa.com.
Ironically, there is a depth of stories about this series that includes a storyabout the Hornets players and what may really be going through their heads.
And here’s another difference in coverage.
While the San Antonio Express News writers have indeed had their own homerism twists on the story, if you readthe story about Robert Horry, you get a sense that this team is ready to play with a chip on its shoulders that is far bigger than what the Hornets could ever muster.
The Spurs, as a collective body, are tired of being labeled a dirty team.
“We’re maybe the dirtiest team in the NBA; we always have been,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, his voice sopping with sarcasm. “We’re known for that, our physicality. We wear black.”
In other words, Popovich and company are tired of the bull dong that flows when things happen during a basketball game that normally happen every day.
Robert Horry definitely is and he weighed in and commented over the weekend on his back pick on David West.
“You’ve got some reporters out there saying it was cheap shot,” Horry said. “Those people don’t know anything about basketball. It was just a back-pick.”
Horry’s assessment is more correct than one would want to give the 16-year vet credit for.
The Hornets, in their current form, have only been in New Orleans for five years or so.
Horry’s comments about how the writers cover this series is indeed a legitimate one because when I have scoured San Antonio’s daily paper’s website or even the national sites, you do not find the sophomoric attempts of stirring up the fan base by posting such childish stories like the one Mr. Gladow was allowed to post.
Those stories are left to the numerous Spurs fan websites that are in existence.
Which goes back to the statement that was made about the lack of professionalism, the fact that a newspaper is trying to manufacture a rivalry and the fact that it seems that coverage of the series in general is very lackluster.
The mere fact that Mr. Gladow’s story has been mentioned now as bad journalism is only bolstered by the fact that a seven-time NBA titleholder saying that the writers don’t know anything about basketball is evidence that these statements are indeed true.
Whoever wins the series on Monday, one thing is certain; a rivalry will be born.
However what taints this as becoming one that will be a franchise long rivalry is the fact that a creative medium like the Times Picayune has its fingers all over the rivalry by its unprofessional reporting during the series and the fact that they do not want anything ‘natural’ to be born out of the series.
Horry’s back pick is the latest ammunition the paper has used in trying to keep the rivalry going and that is very uncharacteristic of a paper that not too long ago was considered to have one of the best coverage teams in the country when Katrina hit.
Where is the drive and determination that the news group has in coverage for the sports tea?
Where is the investigative reporting, the analysis and the willingness to be fair and thorough while still maintaining that “home town” feel in the reporting of the series?
It seems that the TP staff is more about trying to keep the ratings and viewer clicks up by anything necessary rather than trusting its readership that it understands how good this rivalry may be one day without any interference whatsoever.
If the Times Picayune sports staff dedicated more time to giving the readership really exceptional coverage and didn’t try to manipulate a story line for a rivalry, this series would become epic in its own time.
But by forcing the issue and trying to keep the Hornets in the media spotlight, all they have done was manufacture a rivalry that may begin with an ugly ending; something that the city of New Orleans does not want to see happen.