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The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How far is too far?

A sports editor in Indiana is having his ethics called into question because of a tweet he launched, urging a local prep standout to attend Butler, his alma mater. This really isn't a big deal in my eyes. Social media has erased the newsprint barricade between readers and writers and we're encouraged to be more conversational — even if that conversation is in a joking manner.
Jason Whitlock, a writer, on the other hand, is a different situation. As a credible source, falsifying news and rumor mongering has no place in journalism.
That was too far.

Tigers preview section

Make sure to pick up a paper Thursday, as our 2011 Tigers preview section drops. Written and designed by award-winner Matthew B. Mowery, it's sure to be another frame-worth design spectacle.
The section also features stories and columns written by long-time Tigers writer Jim Hawkins.
Visit for our opening day livestream April 8.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

If Twitter decided March Madness

Michigan may have been knocked out of the tournament by Duke, but the Wolverines still have something over the defending national champs: A more active Twitter account.
Michigan made the final four in a bracket constructed by social media exchange Empire Avenue, which breaks down use by tweets, replies and mentions. If you're a follower of Michigan's teams and its athletic director, you'll see they put out a lot of news they see fit to air.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Will census data bump 'The D'

With news of Detroit's considerably smaller population, it's a wonder if the city will keep its city-only dateline in future stories.
Datelines, which indicate the city where the story was gathered, precede story copy and are typically designated by the Associated Press Stylebook, which is revised each year. Most well-known U.S. cities, including Detroit, have standalone datelines: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Dallas and Miami to name a few.
Typically, those cities that stand alone have large populations, but there are some which don't.
With Detroit's initial census numbers coming in at 713,000 Tuesday, here are some standalone cities of similar size:
  • Baltimore (637,000)
  • Boston (645,000)
  • Denver (610,000)
  • Milwaukee (605,000)
  • San Francisco (815,000)
  • Seattle (616,000)
The stylebook is constantly being revived, in fact, last week the it was announced the news provider will drop the hyphen from email and adapt "cell phone" to one word as well as "smartphone." Last year, the guide finally changed the Web site to "website." Some have asked for more reform and based on the recent changes, it seems like the stylebook typically adheres to public sentiment.
Because there are already several cities in the 300k range which stand alone (Minneapolis, New Orleans, Pittsburgh), a change in "The D's" dateline status is still unlikely. Wouldn't "Detroit, Mich." at the beginning of stories just look weird? It would just be another sign of the once great city's fall from grace.
*The cities with standalone datelines used in this post came from a 2005 edition of the stylebook. Population figures based on 2009 samples.

Monday, March 14, 2011

SNL does Selection Sunday

"Saturday Night Live" scored with a sendup of the CBS Selection Sunday show this weekend. Did you miss it?

These guys were the only ones that didn't have Michigan and Michigan State getting in.

Friday, March 11, 2011

OhowIhate .... Duke?

Much has been said about the "Fab Five" documentary set to debut Sunday. Recently, comments producer and Fab Five alum Jalen Rose make in the film about Duke and its recruiting efforts, saying the Blue Devils only recruit suburban kids and calling Duke players "Uncle Toms," have created a stir.
Former Duke player and assistant coach turned ESPN analyst, a colleague of Rose, Jay Bilas refuted those sentiments.

"The idea they weren’t recruited is incorrect. We didn’t recruit Jalen Rose. We recruited Chris Webber. We were very disappointed when he chose to go to Michigan.

“Stereotypes fit a great narrative, but they’re not true. Duke has had inner-city kids. Michigan has recruited suburban kids. It’s not all what it’s made out to be. Sometimes, perceptions aren’t always true," Bilas finished.

Bilas went further to diminish Rose's claims.

“You could make a whole list of guys (Duke recruited from inner-city),” he said. “In 1991, when everyone was trying to make the championship game into this sort of good vs. evil deal, I said, ‘If you switched jerseys’ of all the players … things would look a heck of a lot different. People wouldn’t be as enamored with Christian Laettner or Bobby Hurley. Greg Anthony back then … he had a T-shirt that ran afoul of some NCAA rule, some minor thing, and a big deal was made out of it. He joked if he was in a Duke uniform, he’d win young entrepreneur of the year. It fit a narrative that didn’t necessarily fit the players."

This was just one of the interesting things of which Bilas sounded off Thursday, including the dry talent pool in the college ranks as well as the NCAA prohibiting commercial success by its student-athletes.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Funny Detroit sports quotes

SB Nation went through and remembered some of the most legendary Detroit sports quotes of recent memory. Like this gem from former Lions coach Wayne Fontes: "I'm like that big buck that's in the field. They're trying to hunt him down, trying to shoot him. I just keep dodging those bullets. Everybody wants my rack on the wall."
Another former Lions coach, Rod Marinelli, makes the top five, but it wasn't the "My axe is sharp and my will is strong" gem of a few years ago.
It's a fun list to read and in the comments section, you can offer your submissions.

Still can't wait for the Fab Five documentary

March 13. Just a week away. Then ESPN unearths archival footage laced with interviews conducted with all the central figures - except one Chris Webber. I have to say I'm disappointed in Webber's absence from the film, but it was expected and it won't stop the film from being a winner in my eyes.

Detroit Free Press writer Mark Snyder has talked with former Fiver Jalen Rose about his role as the film's producer at great length and Snyder had more preview material about the documentary this weekend.
At one point, Snyder breaks down the standout moments of the show. I'm interested to see postgame footage shedding light on Webber's reaction to the ill-fated timeout call in the 1993 national championship game.
"It may be the most sympathy Webber will ever publicly receive," Snyder said.
I maintain if the event hadn't gone down that way, Webber would've spurned the NBA's riches for one more year.
Of the production itself, Snyder says:
"As one who has intimately followed the twists and turns of the saga, I expected to be let down. But 'The Fab Five' is riveting, brutal in its honesty, realistic in its language and stunning in its archival footage. The coaches' home movies from the team's Europe trip in May 1992 are classic, part of the impressive video gathered for the telling."
I don't buy a ton of movies, but I'll probably be picking this one up.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Don't step out of line

With all the Charlie Sheen antics going on lately, it's hard to forget the pranks played in the cinematic gold that was the 1989 film "Major League." Apparently Jared Weaver went further than Roger Dorn ever could, getting a rookie's phone number emblazoned on the scoreboard. I wouldn't get out of line on that roster!

Shoelace makes 'Jeopardy'

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson doesn't tie his shoelaces. We knew it two years ago and the world learned repeatedly last fall when Erin Andrews officially killed the story in a feature which ran during a Michigan game.
The phenomenon appeared as a clue on Monday's episode of "Jeopardy." The contestant really only got the answer (actually the question) half-right.

It's nice to see Michigan sports well represented on the notable quiz show where humans were recently owned by cyborgs. The last appearance I remember was last year when the Lions were the Double Jeopardy question to the answer "This team from the NFC North has never been to the Super Bowl."

SI writer fired for Daytona lapse will resurface

Reportedly, a freelance writer for Sports Illustrated's website,, was seen clapping upon Trevor Bayne's win at the Daytona 500. The writer, Tom Bowles, claims it was a "five-second" lapse in judgment which led to his monumental career detour, the buildup of one of the sport's all-time greatest moments. For this, Bowles has become the Jeffrey Maier of sports writing.
In this age where there are hoards of bloggers and writers from untradional media outlets on the beat, press credentials are numerous. When I first heard this story, I assumed it was a member of the "new media." I was surprised to learn Bowles represented SI, which I believe is the reason such strict action was taken.
This situation is sort of like the Broncos beat writer who went for Tim Tebow's autograph in the preseason.
Of course we all know it's wrong to cheer in the press box at any event. I've been known on this blog to be a stickler when it comes to media ethics, but this guy has suffered enough. In his response to his firing, Bowles makes it clear he's passionate about the sport as well as a solid writer, while admonishing his actions at Daytona.
Spots Illustrated should have suspended the guy, but if he was good enough for the gig before this, he should be a good enough writer for them to use in the future. Let me be clear: It's not OK to openly root for a team while working as a member of the press. This doesn't mean the guy should never work again. Place Bowles on probation, maybe don't run his work for a few months. Whatever. This shouldn't be the end of his career, which he's worked quite hard to establish, and it likely won't be, especially with an abundance of new media out there.