Press Coverage: Mariotti, Doyel, Penner, Tebow, ESPN3D, CBS & The Eternity of 11 Seconds

Did Jay Mariotti really write a column this weekend with the lede, "why must the man SCREAM AND YELL ALL THE TIME," and do so without any semblance of irony or self-awareness? The column was on Frank Martin, the fire-breathing coach of Kansas State, and Mariotti wondered if his hot-tempered style has overshadowed a back story that makes the guy worth celebrating. ↵

↵Fanhouse's highest-profile columnist got more media attention than he expected this weekend. It turns out, if you believe CBS columnist Gregg Doyel, Mariotti was at the games, but not exactly at the games in Salt Lake. Doyel enjoyed playing watchdog. ↵

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↵⇥Mariotti has talent. He wrote about last night's games like he was there, which I'm telling you, he was not. But the man can write. ↵
↵That was from March 26, and in reference to not only the Martin column by Mariotti, but also another piece written about the underdog nature of this year's tournament, and how wins like Butler's over Syracuse have become commonplace. Other than the dateline of Salt Lake City, Mariotti makes no assertions to actually being at the game, and the quotes he used for his piece could have easily been taken from the NCAA's transcription or recorded on ESPNews or CBS College Sports after the game. In fact – and this is something bloggers do all the time – you don't have to have a seat at press row to write a game story anymore. ↵

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↵But Doyel's ire at Mariotti was more based on the fact that he did have a seat at press row, yet barely used it all weekend. Are we still at a point where press row seat reservations are tantamount to the hottest restaurant in town? Where being seen at a big game is bigger than actually sitting courtside to cover it? ↵

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↵Such, it seems, is the world of media celebrity. And Fanhouse has become a landing point – not the only one, but clearly one – for media celebrities to type and publish their words. As Fanhouse's resident columnist in Salt Lake City, Mariotti had the benefit of letting Chris Tomasson do the heavy lifting by actually covering the games. Theoretically, then, Mariotti didn't need to be at the games to write about them. It's just that pesky dateline that brings a modicum of expectancy that he was actually watching the game in person, and not on the TV in the press room. Heck, with the late game on Thursday night going to double overtime, he could have been asleep in his hotel suite by the time Kansas State had won. And yes, presumably, both the press room and the hotel room are "Salt Lake City" so even that wouldn't be false advertising had he been watching the games on TV from one of those locations. ↵

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↵Of course, Mariotti not sitting in his seat did lead to more great lines from Doyel, including these Twitter gems: ↵

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↵⇥Mariotti nowhere to be found. All game. If he writes on this game, print it out and wipe your, um, face w/ it – March 25, 7:46 p.m. ↵⇥

↵⇥Mariotti update: He has a byline today from SLC. Quotes and everything. But nobody saw him here Friday. The guy is the Mother Of All Lies – March 27, 11:26 a.m. ↵⇥

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↵Maybe this is nothing more than one brash media type openly ripping another. But I sure bet someone who was actually there to cover the games would have liked the view from Mariotti's ceremonial seat. ↵

↵Questioning Media Integrity: Plagiarism Charges & Pay for Play Conspiracies ↵
↵This was an odd weekend for some strong charges of media impropriety. First, Gregg Doyel, himself, put out a note on Twitter that read: "Coward crawls out from his rock to "tip" TheBigLead that I plagiarized my Butler column from Bob Kravitz of Indy Star." ↵

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↵It turns out, The Big Lead didn't run the story, but rather sent the "tip" to Doyel, who made it a story by publicly calling out the "tipster". Oy. ↵

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↵The email to TBL read, in part: "Doyel basically jacked Bob Kravitz's column from the Indy Star this morning when he put it up tonight." When I asked Doyel specifically about the two columns, he replied that, "Both our columns had the words 'Butler' and 'Hoosiers' and 'basketball.' Otherwise, nothing alike." ↵

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↵Ironic that Jay Mariotti's column also had those three words – in the necessary-yet-obvious analogy comparing Butler to the movie Hoosiers. Maybe Doyel actually got it off of Mariotti's computer on press row. Oh…wait. ↵

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↵The second charge of media impropriety this week is a far more serious claim by Michael David Smith – of Fanhouse but writing at Pro Football Talk – in his post on PFT about Tim Tebow's autograph signing this weekend. Tebow charged $160 per autograph, not including photos, and MDS took issue with the way the event was covered by the Palm Beach Post, a sponsor of the event. ↵

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↵⇥The Post reports that Tebow wrote a $50,000 check for the Tim Tebow Foundation, which will in turn give money to orphanages and the Boys & Girls Clubs. The Post doesn't tell us how much money the Tebow Foundation is giving away, how much the Tebow Foundation is keeping, how much Tebow himself is keeping, or how much the event organizers -- a company called Palm Beach Autographs -- are keeping. ↵⇥

↵⇥The Post also doesn't say how much it spent to sponsor the event. Whatever it was, the paper is clearly happy to be in the Tebow business: The Post's story is written in such a way that the reader is made to feel like Tebow provided a wonderful service during his four hours signing his name today. ↵⇥

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↵The article by Ben Volin, listed as a staff writer, is way over the top, even with the quotes he used, almost as if people were meeting the President during the event. ↵
↵⇥"You're just, like, in awe," said Berger, 25, her face still glowing from the meet-and-greet. "He's so inspirational, and we're all such huge fans. Just to have this opportunity, I'm out of control." ↵⇥

↵⇥Tebow gave about 900 people a reason to smile Saturday as he took photos and autographed memorabilia for four hours on a stage in the middle of the outdoor shopping complex. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Autographs cost fans $160, and photos $75, but it was a small price to pay for Gator fans to get up close with the former Heisman and national championship-winning quarterback. ↵⇥

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↵Actually, that's an enormous price to pay, and as MDS points out, the enormous price earned the Tebow clan nearly $150,000 in autograph charges alone. MDS did question the journalistic decision for the Post to sponsor the event – or at least to cover the event they were sponsoring as it if were a news event. It does lead to wonder that if Tebow can charge this much for his autograph, could he charge – in the way of event sponsorship – for exclusive rights to quotes and media access into his world? Would that be any different than, say, Terrell Owens getting paid to do a reality show? It's difficult to know where the journalism line ends and the cashing in on athletes line starts. ↵

↵The LA Times story of Mike Penner ↵
↵You know the story of Mike Penner, the LA Times writer who changed his name Christine Daniels and lived as a woman before going back to Penner until his eventual suicide. It's a tragic tale, that was adeptly chronicled in the Los Angeles Times this weekend. ↵

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↵Christopher Goffard wrote the piece on Penner, which was in part a tribute, a news story, an obituary and a goodbye to one long-time, and obviously conflicted, Times writer. The piece talks a lot about Penner's decision to become a woman, his experience with and hormone therapy, the process of coming out publicly with the announcement and the positives and negatives of doing so. Goffard wrote a great deal about the transsexual friends that Penner had when he was Christine – friends that understood what he was going through – and how some in that world were using Daniels's newfound notoriety as a pulpit for social change. ↵

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↵⇥As the year wore on, Daniels grew estranged from the Los Angeles transsexual community, complaining that she had become a fundraising tool. At one gathering, she spoke of how supportive the Los Angeles Times had been, only to be confronted by someone who insisted that this didn't reflect the experience of most transsexuals. ↵⇥

↵⇥"She didn't know who to trust in the community," Sandeen said, "because all these people were willing to use her." ↵⇥

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↵⇥In October 2007, Daniels showed up at a Los Angeles studio to pose for photographs to accompany a profile in Vanity Fair magazine. The photographer, Robert Maxwell, said Daniels wore simple, elegant dresses in what was intended as a "conservative, classy-type look." ↵⇥

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↵⇥Maxwell said he sensed Daniels' brittleness and tried to deal with her sensitively. On seeing the photos, she dissolved into tears, saying: "I'm ugly." ↵⇥

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↵⇥"I told her, 'No, you're beautiful,'" Maxwell said. "I was trying to say all the right things. How do you tell someone who looks like a man, 'You're a beautiful woman'? I don't know." As he tried to console her, Maxwell recalled, she pushed him away. ↵⇥

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↵Goffard's piece talked about how that Vanity Fair article never ran, as the author, Evan Wright, didn't think it was fair to discuss the concept without mentioning the fact that Penner/Daniels never looked like a woman and was concerned that Daniels would commit suicide. Other writers, like Paul Oberjuerge, then of the San Bernardino Sun, who wrote that "Christine is not an attractive woman," and "[i]t seemed almost as if we're all going along with someone's dress-up role playing. . . . " probably didn't help. ↵

↵I reached out to Goffard to do a Q&A about this story and he respectfully declined, stating, "in this case I'll have to decline and let the story speak for itself. Sorry." ↵

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↵Goffard has been taking a good amount of heat in the comments section on the story – kudos to the paper for keeping the comments section open, and I do understand that you cannot take a full snapshot of reader sentiment through those who comment on a website. Some people, typically, think Penner should have prayed to figure out what to do. Some think Penner should have "gotten over it" and thought about the war (yes). Some thought the story by Goffard was very well constructed, while others didn't feel the same way. A commenter "joshoreck" had this to say about the piece (sic): ↵

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↵⇥i have been waiting for months for the la times to write a proper story on mike/christine, whose death was more-or-less swept under the rug last year. the times should have held the story if penner's ex-wife and brother, employees of the paper, were unwilling to discuss his life and emotional state prior to, during, and after the transition. it is not a complete story and certainly not a proper portrait of a complex person and a tough situation, one which will become more and more common as the years go on. bummer. come on la times. mike/christine's story hits close to home, you can do so much better! ↵
↵It does beg the question of whether or not it was the responsibility of the paper, and Goffard, to get some comment from Penner's wife and/or brother, both of whom work for the LA Times. The article carefully worded that neither responded to requests, which is the polite way of saying that both said no. The story is a very detailed piece, but quotes from family members could have changed the entire angle and scope of the story. At the very least, it would have given a little more balance to the story, and addressed how Penner's decision affected those around him, and other workers at the paper. ↵

↵Was it difficult, or fair, to keep much of the role the Times played in the situation out of the story? Should, as that comment and others suggested, the story have been held until someone in Penner's family was willing to speak on the record? ↵

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↵It had to be a difficult thing for the paper, and Goffard, to decide. ↵

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↵CBS Got Them Right This Week ↵
↵I gave CBS some heat for putting Gus Johnson at the wrong site in the first two rounds, but they made up for it this week, as Gus not only got the double-overtime thriller between Kansas State and Xavier, but also two big upsets with Butler knocking off Syracuse and Kansas State en route to Indianapolis. ↵

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↵CBS got a lot right this week. In talking with tournament viewers, both in person and online, I was shocked to find how many people are tired of Jim Nantz's overly-prepared style of calling the game. It's not that viewers indicated they wished he was less prepared in his depth of knowledge, but rather his call of the game – his phrasing – seems almost scripted, especially at the end of games. He is almost developing a Duke-like quality, in that he's solid, always prepared, and downright un-liked for being that way. ↵

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↵It was nice to see Dick Enberg call his final game as he got the West Virginia win over Kentucky to end his illustrious career calling the NCAA tournament. He was still sharp, but obviously Jay Bilas by his side helped a lot. ↵

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↵Last, it's almost blasphemy for me to say anything bad about Bill Raftery, and I still contend that he and Verne Lundquist were the best crew for a second-straight week, but I was very surprised that Raftery didn't mention the fact that, in the Elite 8 game that was one of the best-played games of the tournament, Tennessee's Scotty Hopson took a potential game-winning shot with 11 seconds left on the clock. Eleven seconds is an eternity to leave on the clock. Hopson was fouled and hit one of two to tie the game before MSU took the ball back down the court and got fouled. We'll remember Raymar Morgan hitting a free throw, then missing the next on purpose before a desperation three pointer was offline for Tennessee, but the CBS crew failed – to the best of my record of the moment – to make issue of the fact that Hopson shot the ball with far too much time on the clock. ↵

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↵Eleven seconds is way too much time to give Michigan State the ball if Hopson were to have hit that shot and given Tennessee the lead. Heck, Maryland left under four seconds on the clock last weekend and that was too much time. Sure, Hopson had an open look in front of the basket to take the lead, but if Tennessee held that ball for another few seconds, they could be playing next weekend. It was surprising that the best in the business let that pass. ↵

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↵Get Your 3D Glasses Ready, DirecTV Subscribers ↵
↵Hot off the press, from ESPN: ↵

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↵⇥Continuing to lead the 3D revolution by offering customers new dimensions in sports programming, DIRECTV will add ESPN 3D, the industry’s first 3D sports television network, to its upcoming 3D lineup that will offer three dedicated 3D channels, including DIRECTV’s newly named linear 3D channel, N3D™ powered by Panasonic. Launching in June, millions of DIRECTV HD customers will have access to ESPN’s entire 3D programming lineup, including up to 25 2010 FIFA World Cup matches. ↵⇥

↵⇥ESPN 3D will showcase a minimum of 85 live sporting events during its first year, beginning June 11 with the first 2010 FIFA World Cup match, featuring South Africa versus Mexico. Other events to be produced in 3D include X Games 16, 2010 college football ACC Championship, 2011 BCS National Championship game, college basketball and NBA games in 2011. DIRECTV HD customers who subscribe to ESPN will receive ESPN 3D at no additional cost. ↵⇥

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↵Unlike the 3D movie trend that tries to trick the audience with visual gimmicks over an actual storyline – I'm looking at you, James Cameron – 3D in sports can really be something cool. Is it worth signing up for DirecTV? Not for just 85 events, but might be worth finding a new friend in the neighborhood. Yes, you may see me cruising the streets, trolling for dishes come June.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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