The Media Learning Curve: Nov. 5-12

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It was the opinion earlier this week on TheBigLead.com (linked here) that “L’Affaire Netwon … has been nothing short of fascinating – from a media point of view.”

The headline on that story — “Has the pressure to deliver led to sloppy reporting on Cameron Newton?” — isn’t really even a question. It’s a statement disguised as being inquisitive. And, in the Internet existence, it’s a means to some kind of end.

Since there is no bylined author of this particular post, we have no one to really thank/dispute/acknowledge for pointing out what’s painfully obvious: Journalists who once worked at newspapers and had college degrees, but have crossed over into the new medium, find themselves having to prove their worth after signing two-to-three year contracts.

“Things are incredibly heated right now in the online battle for eyeballs among the big media outlets (ESPN, Yahoo, Fox, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, NY Times). Writing columns and features and breaking some news isn’t enough anymore – you’ve also got to deliver with radio interviews (promote the brand!), dabble in social media (get that twitter count up!) and don’t forget the big-picture investigative home runs, too. Oh, and while you’re doing this, you probably should be up-to-speed on what the blogs (this site, Deadspin, Sports by Brooks, etc, none of which have to adhere to strict journalistic standards) and message boards are doing, because you never know when they’ll produce something of news value (for instance … Did Mr. SEC find the Florida leak?).

“Now, your contract is up. In these tight economic times, even cash cows like ESPN are looking to trim the budget wherever possible. That $250k salary of yours? Well, have you produced anything blockbuster like your competition? Has your body of work justified the enormous salary? If the answer’s no, you could be asked to take a significant pay cut.

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“Back to Newton. Keep contracts in the back of your mind … could this pressure possibly have led to some of the sloppy reporting on Cam Newton?”

Over on Deadspin.com (linked here), under the headline “The Cam Newton Scandal Spirales Into Incoherency,” blog poster Barry Petchesky ends his rundown of what hasn’t and hasn’t happened with: “We don’t know a hell of a lot right now.”

Exactly.

If the “reporting” merely was sloppy, it could be dabbed up with a wet paper towel. This stuff can’t even be hosed down with a power spray. It’s stuck to the bottom of the tail-chasers’ shoes.

Before the pressure builds, and jobs are lost, get back to us when you have something solid. Because once someone blows the lid off this thing, something better stick to the walls.

After today’s media column offering (linked here), we milk more notes from our unnamed (and some named) sources:

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== ESPN says its Zenyatta-enhanced coverage of the Breeders’ Cup Classic last Saturday did a 2.9 rating, the highest rating ever on cable, and a jump of 168 percent (from a 1.1) from a year ago. ESPN’s entire Saturday afternoon coverage did a 2.2 rating, up from 0.9 in ’09. According to Neilson, the Breeders’ Cup averaged a 1.0 from 2006-08.

== The final installment of the “24/7 Pacquiao-Margarito” airs tonight on HBO at 9:30 p.m. HBO will reair all four episodes in a row at various times Saturday — including 9-to-11 a.m. on HBO and 2-4 p.m. on HBO2.

== Your L.A. NFL weekend TV listings:

= Sunday
= 10 a.m., Channel 11: Minnesota at Chicago (with Kenny Albert, Darryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa), instead of Carolina-Tampa Bay or Detroit-Buffalo.
= 10 a.m., Channel 2: Cincinnati at Indianapolis (with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf), instead of N.Y. Jets-Cleveland (with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms), Houston-Jacksonville or Tennessee-Miami.
= 1 p.m., Channel 11: Dallas at N.Y. Giants (with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver) instead of St. Louis-San Francisco or Seattle-Arizona. CBS also has Kansas City-Denver in this window.
= 5:15 p.m., Channel 4: New England at Pittsburgh (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer).
= Monday
= 5:30 p.m., ESPN: Philadelphia at Washington (with Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski, Michelle Tafoya and Suzy Kolber).
=Baltimore-Atlanta played Thursday; San Diego, Oakland, New Orleans and Green Bay have a bye week.

== Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham and Shelley Smith has the call for USC’s ABC telecast Saturday in Arizona (5 p.m., Channel 7), sharing a national window with Clemson-Florida State (with Mike Patrick, Craig James and Jeannine Edwards) and Oklahoma State-Texas (with Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and Heather Cox). ESPN’s “GameDay” goes to Columbus, Ohio, which leads into its airing of Penn State-Ohio State at 12:30 p.m. (with Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Erin Andrews) that goes either on ABC or ESPN (with Virginia Tech-North Carolina and Texas Tech-Oklahoma in the mix). In that window, most buzz will be stolen by Georgia-Auburn (12:30 p.m., Channel 2), with Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson.

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== Versus tries its first attempt at 3D version by carrying Oregon-Cal at 4:30 p.m., following up with another online experiment incorporated into its coverage of San Diego State-Texas Christian at 1 p.m. The opener will feature something they’ve called “Versus Vision,” where technology allows for viewers who go onto the website www.versus.com to watch highlights in a 180-degree, user-controlled 3D experience. Ted Robinson, Kelly Stouffer and Lindsay Soto call that one. In the Oregon-Cal game, Wayne Larrivee, Erik Kramer and Heidi Androl are on the 3D telecast, with Ron Thulin, Glenn Parker and Lewis Johnson are on the regular HD telecast.

== The only way to visually take in tonight’s UCLA-Cal State Northridge regular-season basketball opener at Pauley Pavilion — other than being there in person — is via the school’s two webcasts. Bill Courtland, a 1980 graduate of CSUN who recently received a Volunteer Service Award from the school, starts his fourth year on play-by-play doing the games on www.gomatadors.com with Alan Zinsmeister. Bruins broadcasters Chris Roberts and Tracy Murray, doing the game on 570-AM radio, provide the audio on UCLA’s www.uclabruins.com. At least five CSUN games will be on ESPN and/or Fox Sports Net this season, starting with three appearances in the Nov. 25-28 76 Classic from Anaheim over Thanksgiving weekend. Prime Ticket has CSUN’s home game against Cal Poly on Saturday, Jan. 22, on its schedule.

== Bill Walton, who left ESPN as a broadcaster in November, 2009 after experiencing chonic back problems, continues a limited return as a game analyst by agreeing to doing selected telecasts that Comcast SportsNet New England does on Celtics’ road games in January and February. Walton is also doing five-to-10 broadcasts for the Sacramento Kings, promising to be available when the team plays the Lakers and Clippers in L.A. as well as do some games from a studio near his home in San Diego.

== The Zenyatta-centric Breeders’ Cup Classic did a 2.9 rating last Saturday for ESPN — up from 1.1 a year ago (a boost of 168 percent). However, news that Mine That Bird, and not Zenyatta, seems to have the buzz to carry the next horse movie (linked here)

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== Your MLB Network highlights for the weekend: Bob Costas’ “Studio 42″ series starts again today with an hour-long sitdown featuring Hall of Famer George Brett (5 p.m.). The network then has the latest of its “Triumph and Tragedy” series focused on the 1919 Black Sox scandal (Saturday, 6 p.m.). Matt Vasgersian hosts an episode that includes the reading of commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis’ judgment against the “eight men out” of the White Sox, read by current players such as Josh Hamilton, Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez.

== The third season of Tracy Austin’s “Tennis Channel Academy” show, which she co-hosts with Roger Federer coach Paul Annacone, starts Sunday from the Malibu Racquet Club at 4:30 p.m. on Tennis Channel and runs through Dec. 26.

== The last NHRA drag race of the season in Pomona hits ESPN-ville, with highlights of qualifying (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2) and coverage of eliminations (Sunday, 6 p.m., ESPN), with Paul Page and Mike Dunn.

== AND FINALLY:

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== If you haven’t already stumbled upon the Rex Hudler Wonder Dog Hour that airs Saturdays this offseason (usually after Notre Dame game coverage) on the Angels’ flagship KLAA-AM (830), catch up with downloads on the Hudman’s website (linked here).

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