The Media Learning Curve: March 5-12

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Dan LeBatard, aka Flounder, writes in a recent Miami Herald column (linked here) that today’s sports journalism does, sadly, need quotes around it.

“Sports journalism” … Can’t live with it, can’t get used to it…

Writes Dan, with more not-so-air quotes:

” ‘Evolution’ and ‘progress’ are not always synonyms. The electric toothbrush is an example of that. So, too, our ability to now get dinner at the gas station. But because survival is the strongest instinct, in humans and in business, sports journalism is being forced to evolve into selling its principles and fairness (its soul, in other words) in exchange for clicks and cash, a trafficking not that far removed from porn.

(Porn is more honorable, actually. At least there, the participants agree to the transaction and get paid.)”

It goes on:

“There’s also an interesting generation gap growing between old media, which is either aging or dying, and new media, which gets stronger by the day. Today’s kids — and kids are what make everything popular — don’t seem to be as judgmental as their parents. They want to see Portland center Greg Oden naked and the drunk photos of Texas center fielder Josh Hamilton just for the voyeuristic pleasure in it, not necessarily to judge it. And old media can’t keep ignoring those kind of desires, not if it wants to survive. It is hard not to notice that newspapers keep going out of business while TMZ Sports is scheduled to open this year.”

Unfortunately, one of the comments left at the bottom of this column is:

“I’d say that this recycled column indicates you’ve run out of things to talk about, but that would imply you once had something to say. (YAWN)”

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That said, Jayson Frye’s writingon the Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center site (linked here) takes the new media approach into another direction:

News has never spread more quickly or in so many different ways. But the ability to break news so quickly has robbed that news of much of its competitive value. Scoops were once jealously guarded with an eye on tomorrow’s newsstand – the goal was a day on which you had a story your competitors didn’t, and a second day on which your competitors had to acknowledge through gritted teeth that you’d had it first. But that game is disappearing because of the Web. Web publishing reduced the life expectancy of most scoops to hours. Twitter has now reduced it to minutes . …

Like a lot of digital developments, this sounds awful at first – another cherished journalistic tradition tossed on the ash heap. But while we’ll be nostalgic about the era of routine scoops and exclusives, I don’t think readers will miss it all that much – because breaking news will become the short-lived raw material from which sportswriters are free to craft more interesting and memorable things.

Thus, the more logical conclusion: No matter how much it seems TMZ will zap us of “journalism,” the nature of the new-media beast is that there will remain a need — even greater — for more indepth coverage.

Coverage that, by nature as well, will clean up the mess that other fast typers have created.

Other stuff to wrap your mind around from this week’s stuff:

== New Angels TV man Victor Rojas explains in depth why he left the MLB Network for this gig (linked here).

== ESPN ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer explains it all (linked here), including why taped Olympics are cool.

== ESPN exec on Olbermann v. Simmons: “We have moved on from the KO Era. His colleagues at MSNBC no doubt appreciate Keith’s management talent .” But he doesn’t deny, Olbermann points out, that Simmons is a word-salad tosser (linked here)

== Does Stephen A. Smith have reason to fear showing up in a Philly 76ers locker room? (linked here) Or could he just pull a Mariotti and just no-show?

== Dick Enberg, on his 50th season of covering the NCAA tournament (linked here) and (linked here).

== Enberg, on the passing of Merlin Olsen (linked here)

== And Enberg-Bilas win our CBS tournament bracket (linked here)

== Billy Packer knows why expanding the NCAA dance card to 96 makes sense to some (linked here).

== Don’t go away mad from radio Chris Myers … just go away (linked here)

== The upcoming NCAA title game, in 3D, at a theatre probably not near you (linked here).

== “One Shining Moment,” version Hudson.0 (linked here) .. and it’s pretty dang good (and the guy who wrote it definitely is on board, linked here):

== ESPN likes Bobby D. as Vince Lombardi … and perhaps Ringo Starr as Bart Starr (linked here)

== Doc’d up to more “30 in 30″ info (linked here)

== Kiana Tom’s made-for-TV MILF search (linked here)

== Spike TV’s “Pros Vs. Joes” was never this cheezy when Petros Papadakis was on board (linked here).

== Someone in Chicago suggests Steve Lavin give up his cushy TV college hoop job on ESPN (even if they are cutting him back) and hook up with DePaul (linked here).

== What Bostonians think of Nomaaaaar quitting with a one-day Red Sox contract, then ripping it up to join ESPN (linked here)

== The media can’t get into to cover the Paralympics? (linked here)

== Thanks in part to Chris Berman, Nutrisystem is sinking fast (linked here) … so how’s Appleby’s holding up?

AND FINALLY:

== Aside from this great tribute on NFL.com (linked here), one more clip of the late Merlin Olsen, and Curt Gowdy says it here: He was a can’t-miss broadcaster:

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