Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Media Bias

Its much more than political

Friend Tim McGowan sent me the following email:
Maybe I'm imagining things, but it seemed like the FOX broadcasters last night had a bonner the size of a Clydesdale over the Angels. Every freaking word last night was about sleep deprivation or the courageous work of the Angels starting pitcher or how tough Jarrod Washburn is by starting on Wednesday with only three days rest or how big a bat Garret Anderson has.

I mean, I'm watching Jose Contreras shut these guys down, pitching into the ninth freaking inning, the Sox have the same amount of hits as the Angels, and all these guys keep talking about is the Angels-Yankees series. Chris Berman did the same thing during the Red Sox series. Are the White Sox THAT undesirable to the rest of the country?
No, it just seems that way because media coverage of the White Sox is a mixture of apathy and superciliousness. Bob Verdi:
If the scruffy and unheralded White Sox somehow manage to reach the World Series, it might constitute a sneak attack on elite East Coast media conglomerates that no doubt would expect unrefined Chicagoans to celebrate with a tractor pull or cow-milking party.

That's something Sox fans must brace for because regardless of how they react, what it all really means will not matter until defined by eggheads in cradles of culture like New York and Boston. It isn't over until Doris Kearns Goodwin says her piece.
That last sentence neatly sums up elitism in the NY/LA-centric axis of the national media. Why on earth anyone thinks the country is remotely interested in the opinions of Doris Kearns Goodwin on baseball matters is completely beyond me, as is why she is given a national platform to express them so frequently. To me, those who see this, understand the reason for it and aren't at least contemptuous of it, are contributing to the problem.

The bias displayed by the broadcast networks is understandable. Its a matter of business. All year long they've focused their coverage on the best-known teams from the largest markets. In effect, they've developed national 'products' of these teams by making them familiar to Americans nationwide, all the while cultivating an audience who expects to see them in the post-season. (Although part of a sophisticated, deliberate marketing campaign, its not unlike what news networks do when a pretty young girl disappears.) Their coverage will revolve around these 'products' for as long as possible.

As for the bias of the FOX broadcast team, I wouldn't know. I've ceased listening to national broadcasts of professional sporting events unless its background noise or I'm at friend's house. FOX's debut of "Skippy The Baseball" (or whatever its name is) a year or two ago was the tipping point for me. The inane chatter, meaningless (or, impossible though it may seem, worse than meaningless) stats, animated graphics and intrusive advertising constitute an assault on my attention span. All this and the constant focus on matters completely unrelated to the game suck all the joy out of it. To me, telecasts and all associated shows like SportsCenter have become marketing vehicles devoid of substance -- nothing more.

Incidentally, I also find NFL telecasts unwatchable. This was a big factor in why I quit participating in fantasy football this year, likely for good. I do watch Bears games, but mostly without sound. Shocking as it may sound to those who know me well, I can envision the day when I stop watching Bears games regularly. Its coming soon.

If I still feel like watching football after a Sunday Bears game, I'll walk up to the park and catch some live grade-school action. Completely devoid of commercialism, its terrific entertainment. And unlike professional sports, every game has real meaning.


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