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Media for Dummies

By on July 3, 2010

There’s a lot of buzz as free agency begins about this trade or that signing or this or that rumor.  There’s also a lot of criticism of jumping-the-gun-scoops foiled by second-thinking, changes of heart, misinformation, and, well, just flat-out wrong reports.  So here at the Hype, we’re going to help y’all wade through it.  Writers, by their nature, are good with words.  Readers, by nature, read too fast and, as a result, often miss certain nuances.  Also, for those of you with too little time, sometimes scanning the headlines is the way you roll.  One problem with that is the editor often writes the headline, not the author; in either case, the by-line can be confusing.  Seeing as how we’re a Hornets blog, let’s use some New Orleans examples.

July 2, 2010, headline on page D-1 of the Times Picayune: “I Want to Win Now.”  Subtitle: “Once again, Chris Paul reiterates his desire for the Hornets to step up their efforts to build a contender in New Orleans.”  Implication: improve now or trade me.  In fact, the connecting headline on D-4 is: “Trade rumors continue to swirl.”  Lesson #1: context.  When did CP3 say these things?  What were the questions?  In this instance, the key comment comes on the 3rd paragraph of column 2 on D-4, “I love everything about the city, but at the end of the day, I want to win.  I don’t want to win years from now.  I want to win many, many championships here, but I just want to make sure we are committed to winning.”  Funny how the headline “CP3 Wants to Win Many Championships in Nola” wasn’t used.  Simple.  That’s not the story this reporter/editor/news outlet wanted to sell you.  The problem by crafting a story is that it gets carried to other outlets, and like a game of telephone, suddenly, it’s all about CP wanting to get traded, which, if you didn’t know better, you would never know is nothing remotely connected to reality.

Readers also need to beware ellipses and brackets.  This allows an author to omit or ostensibly change words to provide clarification.  It can also allow the author to push their own agenda by selectively picking and choosing what to include in their article.  Check out how the above quote from CP3 could have been printed: “At the end of the day, I want to win…are [we] committed to winning”?  Now, I stretched the bracket a bit, but this makes a point.  Is he worried that New Orleans is committed to winning, or wanting to win many championships here?”  Depends upon how you quote him.  Also, watch out for really short quotes.  Movie ads like to do this.  “Fantastic” says so and so.  Well, what if the full quote was “fantastic special effects, but horrible acting, and no plot whatsoever.”  Did that critic really mean the movie was “fantastic”?  Hardly.

Consider this video from WDSU’s @FletcherMackel over at http://www.wdsu.com/video/24122619/index.html.  Is the first question asked live or dubbed back in?  It’s unclear.  As for many of Chris’ other answers, you can’t hear the questions, or they are edited out.  By the way, the part about CP3 welcoming any of the League’s talented free agents to New Orleans with open arms?  That quote didn’t make the Times Pic (although several of these other quotes did, so its reporters were obviously there at the same time as Mackel).  Instead, the Times Pic ends with a quote from CP’s dad about his son just wanting to win.  My point is that if you don’t know the question, how can you contextualize the answer?  Theoretically, if Mackel could have asked CP3 the following question: “If a small asteroid hit New Orleans and totally wiped it out, would you demand a trade?”  CP laughs, and answers: “Yes.”  Next day’s headline: “CP considers demanding trade.”  A lie?  No.  Misleading?  Yes.  The context wasn’t made clear.  And no media-folks, if the asteroid question is buried in the second last sentence of the article, on the back page, you don’t win any kudos.  You’re still trying to fool people and your integrity is suspect.

Now, back to the Times Pic, and considering all the above, the second Hornets’ article on D-1 is entitled: “Paul, N.O. still not on same page is alarming.”  Wow.  So Chris wants to win.  Stop the presses.  But did I miss the article where the Hornets’ management said they didn’t want to win?  (Actually the other article on D-1 cited Shinn’s statement that Nola is “committed to building a winner around Paul, but, of course, as continued on page D-4.)  Listen folks, there is this thing called the salary cap, all right?  New Orleans, like many talented teams, cannot bring in a max contract player, or even close (they can’t offer more than the mid-level exception, about $5.6 mil).  But this doesn’t mean that the brass aren’t looking to see who is available once the big names ink, or that they’re not thinking of trades to be made.  But, listen, these trades aren’t going to happen until the free agency mess happens, okay?  And of all people, Bower is not about to give away what’s in his head.  Any way, back to the article.  This piece of shit was written by notorious curmudgeon John Deshazier, and opens by saying that Paul’s comments reiterated his claim last week that he was “open to a trade” if the Hornets couldn’t move into the ranks of the NBA’s elite teams.  Where to start?  Nothing in any article or video that I have seen from CP’s golf tournament (where these interviews were conducted) referenced an interest in being traded.  To the contrary, CP said he wanted to win here.  Fact check, Deshazier.  I guess this is a good time to start discussing language use.  Line return.

Chris Paul “open to being traded.”  Open to?  Does he “want” to be traded?  Is he “looking” to be traded?  “Demanding” a trade?  No, no, and no.  Look, any contextual analysis will tell you that Chris was asked if Nola was not a winner, and wasn’t looking like a winner in the next two years, would he be open to a trade?  His answer: yes.  So every reporter blows up the things with the boxes and wires and electricity connected and puts in the binary codes to spit to the world: “CP Open to Trade.”  All of this ignores the fact that this quote was prefaced by Chris saying: “My first choice is to be in New Orleans.”  Why wasn’t that the headline?  No.  Instead, for days, ESPN headlines were in the sidebar, speaking of a “frustrated” CP3.  But again, has he asked for out, or just asked for help?  Big difference.  And would even Nola fans want him to be content with losing or missing the Playoffs?  Of course not.  But instead of being cast as one of the Paul Pierce or Kobe Bryant types, who will build their teams into champions, the implication is that he’ll be a Tracy McGrady or Vince Carter type, and just pout and “want to win” while not really meaning it.  Why?  Because media types get the subliminal jealousy most people have of those that are more successful than them, and are always looking to tear others down.  But the media only gets half the rib for that; too many readers live for it.  The worst is when anyone with a pen who falls into the latter category claims to be someone in the former.  Case in point.
Some sites, like Fanhouse, have gone so far as to report: “Chris Paul Trade Rumors Could Be the Next Talk of the Town.” Excepts: “team on the decline…bleak organizational outlook…'[Paul’s frustration] is very real, very real’ said a source close to Paul.”  Okay.  First of all, they put their own spin on his “frustration” by prefacing the quote by saying the team is headed downhill with no future.  First of all, it’s called health.  People forget how many games our starters have missed over the last two years.  No NBA team with CP3-West-Peja healthy will miss the playoffs.  Take that to the bank.  Second, note how “Paul’s frustration” is in brackets.  Was “frustration” the thing being discussed explicitly, or was it inferred by the author?  Was it even Paul’s “frustration” or someone in his crew talking about him?  We’ll never know. Third, “said a source close to Paul.”  Fuck the media and their sources, man.  Seriously.  I get it, kind of.  But what does that mean?  His girlfriend, his trainer, his chef, the team waterboy?  It could be any of them.  Just watch how such “sources” are described; it’s telling.  No doubt, some are legit, but, really, take it with a grain of salt.  Then, continuing the article’s theme of gloom and doom, the piece continues: “and his general Manager (Jeff Bower) is now reportedly hoping for an exit of his own to New Jersey.”  This assertion is linked to a Nola.com article.  Go ahead and read it.  The exact phrase from the cited piece is: “Bower, who is under consideration for the New Jersey Nets’ general manager job, was out of town Friday.”  That’s it.  How the hell did Fanhouse get to Bower is “hoping for an exit” from that?  Because it has a pre-written story, an agenda, that it wants to sell.  Moreover, look closely at the next words: “an exit of his own.”  The final words again imply that Bower’s escape is in addition to CP hoping for an escape.  Ridiculous, and unsubstantiated.

Listen, these CP3 rumors started because teams told reporters they were calling Bower about Chris Paul trades.  Really?  Duh.  BREAKING NEWS: every team wants CP3.  Give me a break.  And then, Bower, always playing his cards close to his vest, simply said he was “having a dialogue with other teams concerning ‘all of our players.'”  Wow.  So your job, as GM, is to make and take these calls, and you in fact did you job, which probably involved telling teams like New Jersey that if they gave up Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, and four first round picks, you’d think about it, and then (unsurprisingly) not getting a call back.  Of course Bower makes and takes those calls.  That’s his job.  So why are surprised that he “had a dialogue” with other teams about Chris Paul?  What does having a dialogue mean?  It could have meant, “hey, we’ll swap Harris for Paul.”  [Pause]  “Fuck off.”  [Click]  You know?

So, please, people, watch the words.  Anything like “might”, “probably”, “considering”, “talked about”, mean just about nothing.  Nothing.  Writers hide behind these words.  Writers craft their own stories around these words, rather than writing about the story there is.  But in today’s quasi-celebrity world where just being yourself, just having your job, isn’t good enough; no, everyone needs to be famous.  Like certain owners.  Like certain refs.  People that can’t just keep the spotlight where it belongs: on the game and the players that bring it to us. The media, more and more, is guilty of this.  They are no longer content to report the news.  They want to be the news.  They want to see their name under the big, juicy headline: “Chris Paul Demands Trade.”  But Chris isn’t saying that, and they can’t stretch things that far.  Which is why the national media frenzied over this story last week before free agency begin and, now, only the Nola media is running with the new quotes.  They were just bored, so they invented a story.  Readers, beware.  They’re trying to sell you on their story.  Their answers.

Find your own truths.

Well Played, Times Picayune

By on October 29, 2009

Now that’s a pretty NOLA.com background! Um, if a little Myspace-esque in its clashing… (Click to biggify.) 😀

*Disclaimer: Look, I know the team probably paid them to put that up. But. Whenever NOLA.com/Times Picayune acknowledge the Hornets exist, I still get overexcited. Sorry. It’s a holdover from these days.

NOLA.com: Looking Good in Teal

NOLA.com: Looking Good in Teal

ESPN True Hoop, good stuff.  ESPN headline: “Buzz Kill: Hornets thriftiness costing team?”, not so much.  For those of you that may not know, True Hoop likes to aggregate various media sources and present them all for the reader in one place.  What spurred this headline?  John DeShazier, who wrote in the Times Picayune:

The silence has been deafening, the inactivity telling. All we can figure is that the Hornets didn’t seriously intend to add any meaningful pieces in free agency, that their declaring a willingness to pay the luxury tax if it meant putting together a championship-caliber team was hollow. The franchise seems to have done everything in its power to make sure it doesn’t add payroll this summer. … If the Hornets can’t or won’t do what they have to do to catch the Lakers and to beat the Nuggets, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Jazz and Mavericks, then they shouldn’t sell bluster, knowing full well that fans and players are going to call them on it. The lack of activity wouldn’t be so glaring if the Hornets hadn’t gone out of their way to sell the theory that they’d move boldly, swiftly and effectively to plug their holes. Instead, the teams that really were interested in getting stronger let their wallets do the talking. They roared; the Hornets haven’t yet even mustered a whisper. Their silence if deafening, and their inactivity is telling.”

I wanted to respond by posting on ESPN, something I rarely do, but wasn’t sure if I had an account there, so here’s my retort that would have been posted there:

John DeShazier is one of the least-credible and exaggerated sportswriters in New Orleans.  The fact is, the Hornets as of today, have significantly higher payrolls than the teams he mentions: Denver, San Antonio, Portland, Utah, and Dallas, as well as Cleveland and Orlando.  Only Boston and LAL seem to be outspending the Hornets.  New Orleans simply is standing by the team they’ve put together, which wasn’t healthy last year, and is putting trust in their draft picks.  Considering they like to have 14 guys on the roster, they only have one more slot to fill.  To suggest inactivity is always a negative is foolish.  They easily could have hosted a firesale this summer.  To their credit, they’ve realized the mistake made with Chandler last year and are trying to keep a winner together.  It makes me sad that this joker somehow makes an ESPN headline.  New Orleans is not “penny-pinching” by any stretch of the imagination.

Feel free to double check my numbers on HoopsHype.com.  I mark New Orleans at $78M, with others at: Denver $72M, San Antonio $76M, Portland $48M, Utah $73M, Dallas $69M, Cleveland $77M, and Orlando $77M (with Boston at $79M and LAL at $84M).  The fact that the national media spreads its usual ignorance by using a local sportswriter defies all reason and only perpetuates the complex feeling of persecution that New Orleanians often endure.  Maybe we should stop blaming the national media if the TP writers have no clue.   Or maybe the TP should hire a fucking basketball person and the rest of the country should wake up.  This isn’t some kind of transcendantal realization, it’s a few minutes of research.

That’s all right.  No problem.  They can all suck it when Chris Paul is eating everyone’s souls next year and the media flip-flops more than Bill Clinton on Monica Lewinsky.  This team gets it now.  They know their time is now.  They want vengeance.  And CP, the Grief Merchant, will deliver it.

Byron Scott: “It should be him and Kobe starting… There’s just no way in hell that Chris Paul should not be starting on the All Star team.”
David West: “Now that’s ridiculous… Someone like myself (shrug), it really doesn’t matter, but for someone like CP, who undeniably is the top point guard out here, that’s ridiculous.” (That’s such a D West thing to say, by the way. P.S. We got a glimpse last night of the D West bobblehead they’re giving away on MLK Day. It doesn’t really look like him, but it does look bald and mad… so really, maybe it does look like him after all.)

Video: New Orleans Hornets react to All Star Voting

Oh, and shout out to the Times Picayune/NOLA.com for the vid. I rag on their blah coverage a lot, but they included a couple of video clips in their coverage yesterday. It’s a step in a good direction, and I shall acknowledge.

Take Me To Your Leader

By on November 30, 2008

In this morning’s Times Picayune, CP fires back at Bill Simmons. By now you’re aware of my opinion of Simmons’ column alleging the chemistry problems between Chris Paul and coach Byron Scott. But you knew Chris Paul, despite his choirboy reputation offcourt, would have something to say. You can read the whole article here, but this is CP’s quote:

For his part, Paul, too, was dumbfounded over the baseless Internet report.

“It’s crazy,” Paul said. “I figure you guys (beat writers) who are with us every day, if something was going on, you all would see it. Maybe he knows something I don’t know. If he knows something I don’t know, tell him to let me know. I would think me and coach might have one of the best relationships out of the entire NBA.

“I guess people got to have something to talk about. Maybe he should come to a game. Let’s talk. If I had a problem with coach, I’d say it. I guess he comes to one game, and he can figure it out.”

Snark! We knew CP could do snark, after the Rafer Alston incident last spring. Here’s the thing. I don’t care if it’s true or not. They were aware that it was out there, floating on the front page of ESPN.com and giving a negative impression of the team to casual NBA fans, and so they dealt with it. (Just to show you how quick that stuff travels, I’ve already read one article this weekend, and now I can’t remember where, that cited the Simmons column about the CP/Byron clash. “Reports are that Chris Paul and Byron Scott…”) Chris Paul is not going to go rogue, or go Marbury, or any junk like that.

No. You circle up, close ranks, and deal with it behind closed doors. You stick up for the team.

And you know what? I’ll throw a shout-out to the T.P. beat writers too on this one. You did something right.

Speaking of Tall Socks…

By on October 6, 2008

Apparently Julian Wright is doing a chat on Nola.com starting at 1:30 PM after practice today.

Cool! So if you’ve got a few free minutes you should stop by. Monday is usually Hornets chat day over at the T.P., but this is the first time I’ve seen them have an actual Hornets player on. Usually it’s just John Reid talking Hornets. No offense to John Reid or anything, but he is no JuJu.

Well Played, T.P.

By on September 30, 2008

nola.com rockin' it in training camp

So if you’ve been on board here since last winter, you know that one of the founding principles of this site is bitching about the Times Picayune and NOLA.com‘s sorely lacking coverage of the Hornets. They spent most of the season on our $#*t List, and we gave them their own tag called “T.P. Watchdog.” Gotta keep the media responsible and buzz-friendly, ya know.

However, I am not above giving props where props are due. And, quite simply, the coverage in the first week of training camp is already at a much higher level than Hornets coverage last season. We’re seeing two articles a day, plus there’s usually also some kind of practice update in the afternoon in the Hornets Beat section of nola.com. If you get the Times Picayune analog print newspaper, you’ve also been seeing some snazzy color pictures. Media Day got the front page (a silly color photo of Tyson Chandler and Chris Paul messing around with a giant Peja head). And all this while the Saints are playing. YES! I know! Football season is actually happening as we speak, and there is a Hornets training camp article in the T.P. And it’s not even about Chris Paul. It’s about, like, Melvin Ely and his multiple injuries.

This is a far cry from last season, when the cover story the day after the 2OT win over Phoenix was Tulane and LSU’s freshman signings for NEXT YEAR. Seriously. College football in February was more interesting than the Hornets on top of the West. The Hornets couldn’t buy coverage on that site, or in the sports section, until close to the playoffs.

Clearly this is a new year. Thus I say: Well played, Times Picayune, so far. Well played indeed.

Kill the little Kobes!For a bit of mindless fun, check out the T.P.’s silly Hornets flash game.

Quick Gameplay Summary: You’re a Fleur de Bee. You get to shoot at little falling Spurs, Mavs logos that shoot red lasers at you, and yellow Kobes! If watching Kobe Bryant accept the his Lifetime Achievement MVP award last night was enough to make you want to blow junks, get even by blowing him into chunks! (Well, a little orange scribble anyway… haha.)

macatak911, I stole your pic The Hornets are so hot right now. Friday’s game clinched a playoff spot and made the front page of the T.P. I thought about it, and I believe this is the best local media showing the Hornets have ever had. I know I haven’t had much reason to bitch at the Times Picayune’s coverage lately, because it’s improved by leaps and bounds over the last two months. The Hornets have claimed space on the front page before, in the box at the top, or on the bottom, or in the side column. But a big color picture like this? First time, baby. The Hornets were THE NEWS yesterday morning.

At the Hive shoots holes in the media’s “Hornets have no playoff experience” argument, complete with graphs and math and stuff. Excellent post to link when someone tries to argue with you. Of course, Sir Chuck was already an idiot for saying that the Hornets “play in a mausoleum.” Better turn your TV to ABC today, there, TNT guys. Get ready for some education.

This picture is here solely because I am in itJ.A. Adande thinks we should call the CP3 to TC alley oop “The Big Easy.” I don’t know about that, but they sure do make it look easy…

Sunday Dime, of course, is about the Hornets, since they’re the ABC early game today.

This photo to the left? Why do I have pictures of Bonzi watching random Knicks score? No reason, except that we’re in it. Click to embiggen, then check out the two people next to the dude’s butt underneath the WHERE CHRIS PAUL HAPPENS sign. Oh, hey, folks! Hi!

NBATV just went with us over the Warriors today. Said the Warriors might win if they were at Oracle Arena, but the Hornets are “real strong at home.” Yes. Hear that? The Hornets take a 10-game home win streak into this game.

Tyson Chandler blogs about the CP3 for MVP hype. Proving that the team is just as spoiled as us when it comes to Chris Paul. (“WHAT the hell. He only had 18 points and 12 assists. We woulda put them away so much earlier if CP had had a good game.”)

“It’s funny. I was talking to Jannero the other day, and I was saying that you always turn on the different channels and you get a chance to watch Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett, so you’re a little bit in awe of them. Because you don’t get a chance to see them every day. It’s almost like having that girlfriend that you see every day and you don’t appreciate what you got until you step back and really actually look at things.

We see what CP does every day, so it’s not big to us. But then we actually sit back sometimes and watch his accomplishments, watch what he’s able to do on the floor and what he’s established already as a young player, it’s a little mind-boggling.”

Ready… set… time to show national TV what kind of parties go on at mausoleums here in the N.O.L.A!

Crescent City High!

By on March 15, 2008

Believe it.When I started this blog, it was out of a fit of righteous anger in January. I had just gotten into the Hornets. The Hornets were climbing to the top of the Western Conference. Media coverage of the Hornets’ rise was dismal at best. The Hornets’ new lease with the state had an attendance caveat: 14,735 fans per game, or an out clause could come into effect.

Surely the people of New Orleans would come.

But they didn’t. We’d look up at the stands and take stock, count up the empty sections up top, and say, “Well, should be at least 12,000 tonight. That’s better.” Meanwhile the Hornets made their statement by taking first place in the Southwest Division, then first place in the Western Conference. But what happens when a tree falls in the woods and no one’s there to see it?

I had just started to love the Hornets, and they were going to get taken away from me. It wasn’t fair.

Fast forward.

This is how it happens. Final seconds of the third quarter. 78-72 Hornets with the lead over the Lakers.

Chris Paul to a streaking Pargo. Pargo drops it back to Chandler.

Tyson Chandler soars.

Minutes later, attendance is announced at 18,199.

And as I sat there looking up, into the funnel of motion and screaming and color that was the New Orleans Arena, I thought, “This is it. I might as well stop blogging, because I have nothing more to say. Mission accomplished.”

That moment you were waiting for? That was it.

Oh, NOLA, I thought I knew everything about you. You love football, and you scorn outsiders. You party early, arrive late. How could I forget that you understand hope? You understand doggedly pushing on, and doing the things that no one thought you could do. You understand rising up.

New day.

Hornets 108, Lakers 98. The standings in the unbelievably tight West playoff seeding race juggle themselves a bit. Rockets up, Lakers down, Hornets up. There are 2.5 games separating #1 from #7.

New day.

You go outside in your bare feet, you pick up the paper off the lawn. The sun is beginning to shine on a muggy spring day in Uptown New Orleans, the steam just starting to build in the semi-cool air. The Times Picayune headline declares, “SHOWTIME, N.O. STYLE: Paul, Hornets show Lakers a few things about shooting stars,” an article about Deuce and the Saints relegated to the side column.

And you realize that maybe you do still have something to say after all. Because the Hornets still have plenty more ball to play. And you can’t wait to see what they do next. Anyhow, Ron says we can’t decide we have nothing more to say. Because then he’ll be forced to de-link us. So I have no doubt I’ll find something, as we follow these Hornets to uncharted places.

New day. Where do you go from here?

CrowdWatch: 1,000 past capacity. The people in the folding chairs behind us were gushing about how much fun they had, and asked if we could take their picture with our THE BACK ROW BELIEVES sign.

HypeMeter: Lakers/Hornets would have gotten mega play if it hadn’t been for the Houston Rockets extending their stupid 21-game winning streak against another woeful opponent. F the Rockets’ streak… I’ve read that Kobe Bryant is getting “MVP!” chants in other teams’ arenas lately. Memo to Kobe: That one last night wasn’t for you… Hornets: Feel-Good Story of the Year.

T.P. Watchdog: Hornets are the main story on nola.com this morning. Angry CP3 snarls, “MY BALL! MINE!” at not-angry-enough Kobe Bryant on the front page banner and the front page of the sports section. Chris Paul… so hot right now.