Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Journamalism, Opening Day Style!

Opening Day is a wonder in many, many ways. And yet, it can also be a terrible, terrible thing, especially when you pick up your local paper the next day.

The last few years, the editors of the Chicago Tribune have used Opening Day as an excuse for some of the weakest reporting imaginable, resulting in the waste of precious, precious newsprint. This year was no different.

First was this fluff piece by Sully. It was one of those “season’s first…” columns that eds love because they take up column inches and writers love because they’re just so damned easy to write.

This is how Sully leads off his filler:

First access violation: The Cubs violated Major League Baseball's clubhouse access rules before the first game, letting the media in almost 30 minutes late while holding a team meeting on the prospective sale of Tribune Co.

This is an intriguing glimpse into the mind of our press gaggle. The first thing that leaps into Sully’s mind is that those meanies let him and his cohort wait for thirty minutes! Horrors!

And so it goes in Sully’s world. The game, the players, the general state of the team? Fans don’t give a rat’s kiester about that stuff. Better to let them know the trials and tribulations of their favorite beat reporters. Letting them cool their heels for half an hour. Why, that left them with precious little time to file their early space-fillers before hitting the press box spread!

Those of you interested in a little compare-and-contrast might want to check the companion piece by White Sox beat reporter Mark Gonzales. See if you can spot which “season’s first” provides factual (if inconsequential) information, and which plays its readers for rubes by overpowering the few facts involved with its overall sneering, snarky tone. Here’s a hint: Gonzales is a reporter who actually puts his four-year j-school degree to use in his work.

Big Mouth strikes again with this take on the day’s biggest off-the-field news:

This is a good day for those of us at the newspaper who have been uncomfortable with Tribune Co.'s ownership of an entity we writers have to cover. I never once questioned the professionalism of the people in our sports department, but the perception around Chicago was that the Chicago Tribune sports section somehow
was in bed with the Cubs or that it favored the Cubs over the White Sox. I'll go to my grave knowing that wasn't the case, but perceptions are as resilient and poison-resistant as cockroaches.

I don't know of anybody in the Chicago Tribune sports department who felt good about the ethical dilemma of the company's ownership of the team. We didn't get a vote.

I'm not sure what the Sun-Times is going to do with itself now that its reason for living — criticizing Tribune Co. for its ownership of the Cubs — has been taken away.

While I agree with Big Mouth on his Sun-Times blast (that thing’s been a rag ever since Murdoch got his hands into it back in the day), I indulged in dark laughter at the rest of it.

The idea that the Trib sports section (or any other paper’s sports section, for that matter) is fair and balanced is absurd. They’re all biased! They all have a vested interest in the home team, for good or ill.

When the home team is doing great, the paper is full of sunshine and lollipops. When the team is doing lousy, it’s full of gloom, doom, and throw the bums out.

Was the Tribune pro-Cubs in 2003? Hell yeah! At least until Game Six. Then we missed the playoffs in ’04, the War on Baker started, and here we are.

Was the Tribune pro-Sox in 2005? Hell yeah! World Series Championships tend to give a team a warm, fuzzy glow. The luster faded a bit last year, but the eds at the Trib reserved their venom for the last-place team across town.

As for the “professionalism” of the Trib staffers, just remember that this comes from a guy who openly referred to Cubs Fans as rubes, suckers, and bumpkins. And these are the same guys who are wailing and gnashing their teeth over one loss. Opening Day is the best day on the calendar. But it’s still just one day…

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