The Media Learning Curve: Dec. 4-11

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Eric Deggans of the St. Petersburg Times has a premise — the Tiger Woods story is changing the way sports journalism is operating.

A week late and a few bucks short, but, OK. We’re listening. We agree, and we’re looking for another angle to this from a fresh pair of eyes, from someone close to the epicenter of Tiger-Tiger-Land and trying to keep the story fresh for the readers of the newspaper.

Deggans caved in and did an interview with TMZ’s Harvey Levin, based here in L.A., about why the gossip website even pursued the Woods story in the first place before busting a few moves to make it bigger than life.

“What we reported was a car crash, but the facts of the crash weren’t adding up,” Levin said (blog post linked here) “It had to do with the fact that the story didn’t work. It didn’t make sense. Then we started looking at the crash and then it looked like there may have been a domestic fight involved.”

Then they salivated even more.

“In some ways, I think sports journalists on this one were more reticent than general media (to jump on the story),” Levin continued. “If you look at the Today show and Good Morning America, they were all over this story. It may be because this is where their bread is buttered … if you’re really dependent on getting access to the celebrities or athletes, it can really compromise your objectivity.”

Thankfully, Deggans points out — The guy with a photo feature on his Web site called “name that wedgie” is talking about journalistic objectivity?

Levin finished up: “The Associated Press is hiring cub reporters to cover clubs, it’s only a matter of time before sports departments do that, too. There’s a barrier that I think traditional media have … you don’t want to do a story that will upsets someone you need to sit down with some time in the future. You have to free yourself from that.”

The truth will set everyone free, right? Just finding what’s true is the problem.

One more take on Will Tiger Change Sports Journalism, from Will Leitch, the former Deadspin.com editor now at New York Magazine (linked here):

In an industry that has (generally) turned a calculated eye away from the (substantial) personal deficiencies of its superstars, this seems like a sea change … The sports world isn’t used to this, not at this level. That it’s happening to the most private of all superstars — a man who refused to comment past a press release about the death of his own father — makes it that much more astounding, and surreal. … But it is this reporter’s belief that this is an isolated incident, a freak occurrence that won’t lead to constant updates on every player’s personal life. …

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A good corollary to this is Kobe Bryant, a man accused of a crime far, far worse than anything Tiger has been accused of. Kobe managed the story (as) a guy trying to help his team win, and his off-court life became a ‘distraction.’ The sporting press loves to consider itself above distractions: Deep down, they just want to write about the games and the sports too. That’s why they got into this in the first place. Writing about extramarital affairs and felony rape charges is outside of their frame of reference and their comfort zone. …

Eventually, they will return to normalcy, and be happy to write about the games again. Tiger Woods will likely never be the same but the sports-journalism game, for better or worse, will float lithely back to hagiography and blind hero worship again. It’s what we do. It’s why we’re here.”

That’s why we care.

And we move onto less mind-stressing things that we learned at the Media Learning Center (not sponsored by Gatorade’s Tiger Brand of Drink Stuff):

== “The View” is apologizing to Tiger’s hooker (linked here)

== CBS’ Bob Scheiffer is telling Tiger how life really works:

== Why SI golf writers are teed off (linked here)

== Why the media is climbing over itself to angle for the first Tiger interview (linked here)

The other stuff:

== Your NFL Week 14 TV schedule for L.A. (linked here) And another Jacksonville NFL game blacked out? Attention L.A. NFL fans (linked here).

== The best take on Twitter we’ve read so far — from ESPN Magazine (linked here)

== How Stephen A. Smith plans to return to the radio, via Fox (linked here)

== For some reason, Shaq’s soon-to-be ex-wife wants to produce a show about NBA wives (linked here)

== Peter Gammons’ sources confirm: Gammons going to the MLB Net (linked here) and he’s written a farewell column to boot (linked here)

== Why we like “The Blind Side” (linked here)

== Apparently, that BCS Selection Show (last Sunday, Fox) continues to be less and less effective in getting the message to a captivated audience (linked here).

== NASCAR hooks up with Showtime for an “inside” show (linked here)

== What does NBC have to gain by keeping the Notre Dame football package? (linked here)

== Arnold Palmer has a “This is SportsCenter” ad, but we’re not happy about who else is in it:

== SI.com’s Richard Deitsch names Bob Costas the sports broadcaster of the decade, and for good reason — it’s true (but some of the other choices in other categories will make you think) (linked here).

== AND FINALLY:

Why Tiger Woods won’t be giving his first interview to ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, and how the late-night talk show hosts also manages to take down a network program that’s only claim to fame is giving Jesse Palmer a second career as a college football analyst:

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