The Media Learning Curve: Feb. 18-March 4


Following up on the return of the media column (linked here), and looking for more gravy to add to the crock of smashed potatoes that will rival anything else served up to you on a silver platter:

== Richard Deitsch’s “media power list” for February (linked here) includes the Poynter hiring by ESPN, and includes a link to his Q-and-A with their leaders (linked here). He also has a link to the “scathing piece” on Poynter’s website by former New York Times writer David Cay Johnston after news broke that Nike had been paying a group of ESPN on-air talent to serve as emcees.

== With Spero Dedes doing CBS’ coverage of the Oregon-Arizona game on Saturday from Tucson, Ariz. (Channel 2, 11 a.m., with Bob Wenzel), Bill Macdonald will handle the Lakers’ radio play-by-play of tonight’s game against Charlotte for KSPN-AM (710).

CBS is also pushing its Duke-North Carolina game coverage (Saturday, 5 p.m.) into East Coast prime time, the first time the two schools will meet in that window for non-ESPN network TV. Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg call it. CBS will also use analyst Reggie Miller on his first college game, as prep work for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, when he does Kentucky-Tennessee on Sunday with Kevin Harlan (Channel 2, 9 a.m.).


== Blake Griffin’s behind-the-scenes performance at the NBA All-Star weekend is documented in an NBA TV special that premieres today (3 p.m.) with several replays. The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant admits during the half-hour piece: “Let me tell you what the significance of Blake Griffin is: he had me dunking tonight (during the All-Star Game).”


== Interesting first-person piece by Armen Keteyian on (linked here) about how that organization worked with Sports Illustrated to produce the magazine’s cover story about college football players who have criminal records.

“While criminal incidents involving college players appear to have become more widespread in recent years the scope of the problem had never been fully explored,” Keteyian wrote. “No one had ever conducted the kind of criminal background checks we were proposing; reporting that would eventually expand to 31 state or local courts, 16 court databases and 25 law enforcement agencies. More than 7,000 checks in all.

“Truth is, only a small handful of news organizations today have the resources (read: manpower and money) to back such an ambitious, game-changing project. And I do believe it is game-changing. Why? Because now schools know what is possible. They’ve been handed a detailed road map of where to look.”

As thorough as the piece seems to be with numbers, stats, and coaches like UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel commenting on them, the missing elements, as discussed on many of the sports chat shows, is how the percentage of these athletes matches up to the general population, or even campus student population, for similar offenses. Maybe their numbes look alarming, but are they above or below other standards?

Richard Lapchick, founder of the Center for Sports and Society and president and CEO of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports at the University of Central Florida, is quoted about the report in a SI/CBS press release:

“This sounds an alarm bell that some new policies are going to have to be developed on individual campuses or at the national level to take a closer look at who we’re recruiting… With the results of this investigation, I think it’s almost incumbent on all those universities who play at this level to do criminal background checks on the people they’re recruiting. Not only for the nature of the football program itself, but for public safety on campus.”

== If you pass on the above, please give a read to Joe Posnanski’spiece on former CNN sports anchor Nick Charles in the current issue-ender in this week’s Sports Illustrated (linked here).


== Why even care about Tennis Channel programming this weekend? David Hasselhoff.

Knight Rider will be featured on the network’s “Celebrity Tennis” series (Sunday, 4 p.m. with many repeats) to talk about his love of the game with Vince Van Patten.

From the Tennis Channel press release, the Hof describes his own play to that of a “swatter… like Dr. Seuss on the court.”

With a hamburger in one hand and a racquet in the other?

== First, the NFL Network has been doing a splendid job keeping its blinders on with coverage of the scouting combine and airing all the business-as-usual events of the offseason. Yet, without seeming to get too mucked up in any slanted coverage of labor negotiations, how does it all but ignore stories about the fact that network TV money has been dragged into all this as the thing that NFL owners are trying to float upon for a pending lockout situation? A judge’s ruling in favor of the players union to prevent owners from using $4 billion in rights fees as a “lockout insurance” has been called by at least one sports economists as a “decision that could surpass the collusion rulings against Major League Baseball in terms of its importance to professional sports, and have a significant impact on the NFL’s ongoing labor dispute.”

== Bob Papa, Max Kellerman and Roy Jones Jr. call the HBO boxing card from the Honda Center in Anaheim that airs tape-delayed Saturday at 10:30 p.m. that includes Saul Alvarez vs. Matthew Hatton and Daniel Ponce De Leon against Adrien Broner.


== If boxing is considered to be one of the better sports to translate to the new 3D technology, it stands to reason that ultimate fighting would be as well. Versus and UFC tried the first 3D broadcast on Thursday from Louisville, Ky., for those with 3D TV sets.

“We’re really excited to start broadcasting UFC events in 3D,” UFC President Dana White said of the event in a press release. “UFC is ahead of the curve when it comes to introducing new technology and we think UFC fans will really enjoy seeing fights in 3D.”


== The combined Golf Channel/NBC coverage of the Honda Classic this weekend is the first full-field PGA Tour since the two networks were united by the Comcast purchase of NBCUniversal, following last week’s collaberation on the WCG Match Play tournament in Arizona. And you may even notice a difference. All the golf on NBC is called “Golf Channel on NBC,” with a Golf Channel graphic look and new logos on the NBC commentators jackets (a combo Golf Channel-peacock patch).

Golf Channel continues its coverage today (noon to 3 pm..) and adds two hours of live coveage Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. before NBC begins what is called “Golf Channel on NBC” from noon to 3 p.m. each day. (Yes, kind of like “ESPN on ABC”). Kelly Tilghman and Frank Nobilo are with the Golf Channel coverage today, while Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller pick up Saturday and Sunday, along with Gary Koch, Mark Rolfing, Roger Maltbie and Dottie Pepper, plus Jimmy Roberts running around somewhere with a mike in hand and essay in his head.

Golf Channel says its three-day average viewership for last week’s match play event was up 84 percent from last year while viewership for “Golf Channel on NBC” coverage rose 71 percent.

== The Sporting News has officially taken over, a move that has resulted in some losing jobs while others deciding not to move to the new site, reports the Sports Business Daily. Readers who entered the Fanhouse URL were automatically redirected to Sporting News’ home page. says that Kevin Blackistone, the highest-profile Fanhouse writer, decided not to write for the new company.

==’s Brian Lowery (linked here) reminds us that what he calls the “Charlie Sheen Career Suicide Radio Tour” began with an unsolicited call to the Dan Patrick syndicated radio show, which Sheen probably hears in L.A. on KLAC-AM (570).


== The evolution of Prime Ticket into Prime Sports, and Fox Sports Net 2, and FSWest may have been a bit confusing over the last 25 years, but the way it’s all explained in an hour-and-a-half special hosted by Bill Macdonald that’s been airing on FSW and Prime over the last couple of weeks.

The “Fox Sports West 25th Anniversary Special,” which has repeats on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and Tuesday at 5 p.m. (both on Prime Ticket), starts with a clip of the first event televised on the channel – a Lakers game against Cleveland on Nov. 5, 1985 with Chick Hearn and Keith Erickson .

But it also includes such memorable clips as:

= Oscar de la Hoya’s first pro bout, a “Fight Night at the Forum” event called by Hearn on Nov. 23, 1992;
= A first-season Anaheim Mighty Ducks when a Tinkerbell animatied character would sprinkle pixie dust on a player whenever he scored a goal;
= Inglewood High’s Paul Pierce after winning the Wooden Award;
= And Tom Kelly calling a Marion Jones race in 1990 when she was a 14-year-old freshman at Rio Mesa High, as well as high school clips of Matt Leinart, Baron Davis and Kevin Love.

Those broadcasters who share stories with Macdonald include Vin Scully, Bob Miller, Mike Walden, Kelly, Don McLean, Stu Lantz, Steve Physioc, Brian Hayward, Jim Watson, John Jackson, Jim Fox, Ralph Lawler and Joel Meyers.

And look close: You’ll even see clips of Van Earl Wright and Carolyn Hughes interview Dodgers pitcher Jose Lima.



== You mean non-Laker fans will be footing the bill as well for this new Time Warner Cable channel that is 24/7 Lakers? But, of course (linked here). Isn’t that obviously how it always has worked?

And if you still haven’t worked through the math of this:

If Time Warner had the Lakers’ channel this year, and was paying $150 million in reported fees, it would only have 57 exclusive games (the others are either on ABC nationally, exclusive for TNT coverage or going side-by-side with ESPN), 22 of the games would have a start time of earlier than 6 p.m. PDT, and two of them would had 10 a.m. starts (fire up the DVRs), and there’d be no Lakers-Miami or Lakers-Boston, and only one Lakers-Orlando game.

Is that still a bargain?

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    “Blake Griffin’s behind-the-scenes performance at the NBA All-Star weekend is documented in an NBA TV special”

    Will that include footage of him stiffing the hundreds of fans waiting in line for his autograph at the Jam Session? He was nearly an hour late and only signed for 65 people or so.

    Yeah, I’m bitter.