When it comes to politics, few things are as instructive of partisan behavior as watching sports. The two may not be the same, but boy howdy do they rhyme.

This applies also when talking about politics and the media.

Anyway, Southern Tech recently made a controversial hire for its football program. He wasn’t controversial because he’s a bad coach, but because of some stuff that went on off the field that he probably knew about.

The Colosse Herald ran an opinion piece critical of the hire, and a news piece that spent 70% of the article talking about The Scandal. That seems a bit excessive to me, but only somewhat. The Scandal is half the story, in my view, maybe a little less. Other aspects of the story, such as the fact that he is a Packer alum and that he and his wife met at Southern Tech as well as his coaching career itself were all worthy of more note than they got. But though my judgment may differ, reasonable minds can differ on whether we’re talking about 40% of the story or 70% and at some point I have to admit I am a bit of a partisan here.

Anyway, I was on the forums and not surprisingly most people there took a different view. They were talking about canceling subscriptions and how the Herald owes it to the community to support the team. Some pointed out that’s not how journalism works.

Others pointed out that maybe the article wouldn’t have been so critical if Sotech hadn’t become so unfriendly to the media lately. This was used by sub-partisans against the athletics director who has taken a more restrictive attitudes towards the press. Others pointed out, retaliation is not how journalism works.

For the most part, though, there was the expectation that the media should be able to rise above shabby treatment by the Southern Tech athletics department, but also that it should understand the local market and cater to it by being supportive of the team.

Anyhow, this reminded me somewhat of criticisms of various attempts on the left to boycott the New York Times. A lot of the arguments come down to view that conservatives are never going to buy the paper so they should cater to the preferences of those that do (or they should pay a price). This is conducive to journalism when they are objecting to hiring a conservative columnist, for example, but it’s highly questionable when it comes to what political things they choose to cover and how they choose to cover them.

This is not inconsistent insofar as if you are a liberal and believe that reality has a liberal bias, then anything but what might be perceived by everybody who isn’t liberal as bias is in fact bias in the other direction. One of the nice things about the sports politics discussion is that fewer people are under time impression that such higher truths are in play. More people actually know they’re partisans.

Of course, on some level they are absolutely right about what the news outlets should be doing. It probably is in the best interest of the New York Times to cater to their audience and the audience with greater potential. They sometimes miss some of the nuances (ie just because Krugman gets forwarded more often than Stevens that doesn’t mean they’re financially better off getting more Krugmans and fewer Stevenses). As conservative viewers are siphoned off by expressly conservative outlets, the center of the media commons moves to the center left. And as such, the center-left becomes the audience they need to appeal to.

As the outlets get squeezed, they may need to work harder on the audience they have. The implications of that – especially to the extent that this has already happens – are a double-edged sword.


Category: Newsroom

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

12 Responses to The Media and the Home Team

  1. trumwill says:

    If you’re curious why I am picking on the left, I intend to write about the implications here for the right at much greater length at a higher-signal venue. If and when I do, there will probably be an accompanying piece here.

  2. James Kerr says:

    As an aside, do you also find the “Reality has a liberal bias” line insufferable? I could accept it if it was something a conservative had actually said (like “reality-based community”) but Colbert has never been a conservative, and so it comes across as nauseatingly self-congratulatory.

  3. ICYMI, Maribou has gone completely off the deep end regarding an innocuous comment made by Saul DeGraw in the Syria thread Over There.

    I don’t think she has the temperament for the job.

  4. I posted here a few days ago and it never showed up.

  5. ScarletNumber says:

    My previous two comments didn’t post.

    • trumwill says:

      They ended up in Spam for some reason. Resurrected.

      As for Maribou, I don’t necessarily agree with every response she’s had but I don’t have to. I’m glad she’s taken on a generally thankless and often stressful task.

      • Regarding spam, interesting use of the passive voice.

        Based on the fact that for my first two posts I used my usual email address and for the next two I used an alternate one, I think the spamming may have been more active.

        • trumwill says:

          You can think whatever you want, but (a) I can’t filter things to the spam folder (only to moderation or trash) and (b) My guess is that it has more to do with using Uncle Steve’s site for your web site. If I did want to filter you I probably would have used your name, and at this point I would have no reason to try to be clever about it.

  6. Joe Sal says:

    Will, how much extra effort is involved in posting your Morning Ed links over here?

  7. trumwill says:

    It depends. The issue isn’t so much how much effort it takes to put a post up here, but the fact that I am sometimes tinkering with posts a lot after they are scheduled.

    I did run links (though not exactly the same ones) concurrently for a while.

    My attentions have (obviously) been devoted to OT lately, but at some point down the line I will take a step back and figure out what the relationship between the two sites is going to be.

    • Joe Sal says:

      I liked when you ran the links on both sites, and would visit your site in case there were some links not included at OT. I think extra tidbits over here could increase your traffic.

      Also I didn’t find anywhere on your site to donate some electronic greenbacks.

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