Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Rookie Mistakes (or Obnoxious Older Media Members Get Their Shorts in a Bundle)

Once upon a time, I was a rookie reporter visiting places like the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where I was among a room full of heavy hitters in both the media and professional sports.  I was getting the feel for the room when I looked to my right and saw that Dan Marino was standing right next to me.

The same Dan Marino who I watched play at Pitt.  The one who I believed the Dolphins had found a super star when they drafted him.  The same Dan Marino whose poster hung on my closet wall.  The one whose jersey I once owned. 


Still, on that day, as with the day I worked at THE Yankee Stadium (easily among the 10 best days I've ever had in my life), the Buick Classic, and others, I tended to follow the lead of the others in the room.  If it was appropriate, I recorded audio (Joe Torre, Roger Clemens, and even a one-on-one with Mr. Marino himself).  At Yankee Stadium, I let the pros ask the questions, and I just watched and followed along (I was fortunate to run into Sam Weinman, then with The Journal News, and he was kind enough to explain a few things to me).

The bottom line was that I learned by watching.

This, however, doesn't mean that it's the best way to go about it.  Over at the National Sports Journalism Center, veteran writer Dave Kindred tells the story of Stephanie Wei, a blogger/reporter who had a credential to the US Open and mistakenly walked into a players lounge to talk to Ian Poulter.  Poulter scolded her on Twitter (that's fairly obnoxious of him), and now the hand-wringing has begun to define what constitutes a "journalist."

It's a new day, folks.  I have no problem saying - quite loudly - that I'm a journalist.  I have the degree to show that I took the proper classes.  I have the audio cuts to demonstrate my interviewing and reporting skills.  I've written articles for publication.  Is that good enough?  Am I worthy of a credential, even though I write this little ol' bloggy, thus making me a...GASP...


I think that "we" (whoever "we" may be, and I am woe to leave this to the opinion of cranky old sports writers) need to address this on a case-by-case basis.  I've already spoken to my credentials.  Wei's strike me as borderline (only because of her "fan-like" approach), but she seems legit in her passion and knowledge of the sport.  I will knock her for walking into the players' lounge for the same reasons that I spoke of in my approach of Yankee Stadium.  I'd rather watch, follow, and learn.  That was my approach as a newbie.  Most of the time there's a seasoned reporter that will happily show someone around (as in the case of Sam Weinman).  So, yes, Wei should have been a little smarter.

That being said, Poulter didn't come off well.  Neither do those who question exactly who belongs in the club.

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