Weekly sports media notes version 08.18.16: NBC, Rio is in Lochte-down mode

Journalists surround the car transporting American Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz, center, sitting in the front passenger seat, and Jack Conger, in backseat not seen, outside a police station where they were going to provide testimony in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday. The two were taken off their flight from Brazil to the U.S. on Wednesday by local authorities amid an investigation into a reported robbery targeting Ryan Lochte and his teammates. A Brazilian police official is telling The Associated Press that American swimmer Lochte fabricated a story about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

Journalists surround the car transporting American Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz, center, sitting in the front passenger seat, and Jack Conger, in backseat not seen, outside a police station where they were to provide testimony in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday. The two were taken off their flight from Brazil to the U.S. on Wednesday amid an investigation into a reported robbery targeting Ryan Lochte and his teammates. A Brazilian police official is telling The Associated Press that American swimmer Lochte fabricated a story about being robbed at gunpoint. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

We’ve apparently reached the point in Rio 2016 when the media is trying to catch itself from drifting out of its lane.
Having already needing to check with its accountants and its better judgment as to what resources it has to devote to the athletes who are winning medals, lodging protests, tripping over hurdles and belly-flopping off the high dive, we now have Ryan Lochte taken every other part of Rio as a “news” hostage.
Where have you gone, Jim McKay? Replaced, apparently, by Deadspin.
NBC’s resources are pretty vast and fast in this department, and through one sector or another it can blanket this better than anyone and then construct a nifty package out of it, between those long lulls at the track stadium where another shot of Usain Bolt loitering under the stands without getting arrested.
article-2710814-1430DC3F000005DC-383_634x914But as the clock struck 10 p.m. during Wednesday night’s prime-time coverage, one could easily read the smirk developing on the faces of NBC’s Bob Costas and Matt Lauer, interviewing each other, as they tried to credibly report on what seems to be known about the four U.S. swimmers sticking to their stories about being robbed at gunpoint on Sunday.
Anne Thompson of NBC News got dragged into this to lay out (complete with some suspenseful background music that seemed to be taken from NBC’s “48 Hours”) on why Rio authorities had “serious doubts” about Lochte’s side of the story, which all seemed very sincere as he explained it earlier on the beach to NBC non-reporter Billy Bush (who actually helped feed him some lines in the story to repeat).
Costas, couching all this as “something that has to do with public relations as much as possible criminality,” then pulled in reporter Gadi Schwartz at the Rio airport and, eventually, Lauer, in a sequence that looked like something out of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”
Next up: Brian Williams, NBC’s Legal Obfuscation Correspondent, unless he’s still shadowing Justin Gatlin.
As a Mary Carillo’s piece on finding the real “girl of Ipanema” came a short time later Wednesday put Costas in a much better mood, NBC will stay all over this and continue to be sidetracked by this like everyone else as new information becomes available from gas station attendants.
When covering large court cases, the media often relies on a pool reporter to talk to the key people and then share it. Here, NBC is about the best pool reporter we have everything that happens outside the pool for Lochte and his pals.
Even as NBC reporters on Thursday morning were trying to recreate the “gas station incident” that has now surfaced with some computer-generated visuals.
This all seems to play into the Lochte narrative, going back to when he did a reality show called “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” and got some stellar reviews.
The water-logged truth is out there. Just don’t drown in the details. Floaties optional.

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HBO ‘Hard Knocks’ Episode 2: As Spruce gets off the ground, Hill crumbles

Rams rookie receiver Nelson Spruce got most of the HBO 'Hard Knocks' Episode 2 exposure based on his exhibition game performance against Dallas last Saturday at the Coliseum.

Rams rookie receiver Nelson Spruce got most of the HBO ‘Hard Knocks’ Episode 2 exposure based on his exhibition game performance against Dallas last Saturday at the Coliseum.

The existence of dinosaurs and mermaids, the prospects of an injury caused by a remote-controlled robotic tackling dummy and the ridiculousness of allowing players to drive dune buggies on a college campus – you couldn’t see that accident coming? – could be the immaterial takeaway from Episode 2 of the HBO docuseries “Hard Knocks” focused on the Los Angeles’ Rams.
HBOHardKnocks1But those kinds of things are beginning to come off as just colorful distractions from the real storylines that have ramped up as exhibition games are played, cuts have to be made and, in case of rookies Nelson Spruce and Austin Hill, careers could be launched or crushed in one otherwise historic Saturday night.

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Sunday media: It looks like the Rio Olympics … but it’s really Stamford, Conn.

Bill Seward is enclosed in a sound booth in Stamford, Conn., calling an Olympic men's rugby game off a TV monitor that's going on in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last week. (Photo: NBC Sports)

Bill Seward is enclosed in a sound booth in Stamford, Conn., calling an Olympic men’s rugby game off a TV monitor that’s going on in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last week. (Photo: NBC Sports)

The secret isn’t dirty, nor is it very little. But we’ll let you in on it anyway if you hadn’t noticed by now.
The fact that about half of all the 6,700-plus hours generated by NBC and its platforms during its 19 days of Summer Olympics coverage are being delivered by broadcasters and technicians based in a super-sized studio in Stamford, Connecticut, telling us what they see off a monitor, instead of being situated onsite in Rio de Janeiro, might raise a red flag.
But as much as it reveals itself as a sign of the times, it’s also providing a road map to the future of sports coverage. Someone watching at home, or glued to a smartphone or computer screen at work, might not even know, or care, about this dynamic, but it’s probably worth asking once these Games end next week.
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It’s Out of the Question: Cupping just not our cup of tea … for you?

0813_SPO_LDN-L-QUESTIONS-0813Spooning. All for it.
Mugging. Only for a camera.
Cupping? Stick a fork in it.
Sir Michael Phelps may endorse this ancient form of suction therapy – which also seems to have inspired some guy to scale the outside of a Trump building in New York the other day before police pried him off.
But night after night of seeing large purple spots all over him causes us to flash back to the days when our kids endured a rather painful episode of the chicken pox and were simultaneously in need of therapy after having continuous nightmares they were going to turn into Barney the Dinosaur.
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Weekly sports media notes version 08.11.16: ESPN’s McDonough on how Rams-Cowboys Saturday will be one and only ‘MNF’ exhibition rep with Gruden

The background there at the CNBC Olympic desk shows a Rio de Janero visage. But the studio is in Stamford, Conn.

The background Fred Roggin has at the CNBC Olympic desk shows a Rio de Janero visage. But the studio is in Stamford, Conn.

Did you know: While all the NBC prime-time coverage of the Olympics comes out of Rio, about half of the total 6,800 hours of NBC-generated Olympics TV time is actually based on announcers calling the action off TV monitors in a giant studio in Stamford, Conn.
And more than half of the 30-odd sports covered are primarily a Stamford-generated broadcast.
While there are some 2,000 NBC employees in Rio, another 1,100-plus are at a 300,000-plus square foot facility about an hour south of ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., including anchors like CNBC’s Fred Roggin, above, and rugby play-by-play man Bill Seward.
We’ll talk to the two L.A.-based broadcasters about the experience, whether they’re just as happy being there instead of in Rio and how they mentally gear themselves into the task at hand, whether the viewers at home realize what’s happen and/or really care that much.
“So many of these sports, you’re calling it off a monitor anyway, and the technology is such that it’s a lot easier and it comes at no expense to the viewer to have these people in Stamford,” said NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell. “So for us it’s just a much smarter proposition overall if it doesn’t impact our quality in any way and we can manage things more efficiently.”

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