Blogs > The Back Page

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

Monday, October 29, 2012

How I kept busy while the Tigers were getting swept in the World Series

Sunday, October 28, 2012

News orgs tripping over themselves to RIP athletes

I'm all for breaking news. I've probably even done it a few times in my career. But I'm struggling to understand media's obsession with being the first to announce someone's death.
Last week, we knew renowned boxing trainer Emanuel Steward was not in good health. And then, just as had been done weeks prior when Lions legend Alex Karras passed away — someone jumped the gun.
But in Steward's case, the family chided the media, the Detroit News and Free Press in particular.
Deadline Detroit details the sordid process of how the News' headline came to be as well as others in the Detroit media who slipped. In the News' case, a pre-written obit, common practice, was posted to their site despite the author's words of warning via email.
Former Steward student Lennox Lewis did have a good point, according to DD, that the family could have taken to social media to refute the claims. That seems to be the defense method du jour. It shouldn't have to come to that, but when moves at lightning speed, just like auto feed errors, expect more of the same.

Automatic news feeds: When the 'shit' hits the fan

It may go unnoticed by many readers, but certain "news" sites are maintained and updated by automatic feeds. Their social media accounts, too. That's why  I was less than surprised to learn several prominent sites Saturday ran a headline with an explicative.
"World Series 'shits' to Detroit" 
Spotted and rightfully derided by Deadspin, it reportedly took the sites a while to realize what they had inadvertently done by trusting a machine with little oversight to do a cerebral task like headline writing.
When stories come off "the wire," (The Oakland Press subscribes to The Associated Press, but gets much content from partner newspapers), the content comes with a suggested headline. The headlines are traditionally rewritten for print because they have to be. That's not the case with websites.
And just to clarify, no, we don't "employ" the use of automatic feeds to update our website and/or social media.
Deadspin notes several Twitter users had fun at these sites' expense.  
And while computers and search engines might be good at analytics and search-engine optimization, you can't put a price on the human element. It's like the opposite of the "Replay in MLB" argument.
In short, these offending "Snooze" organizations got what they deserved. Expect more of the same in the years to come.

Monday, October 01, 2012

'Biased' Tigers broadcast highest-rated in the MLB

If you've ever strayed to an out-of-town Tigers broadcast, especially the Chicago White Sox's duo, you know there's a bit of "homerism" plaguing telecasts.
Last week, Wall Street Journal made it official, publishing the "Announcer Bias Index." 
The Chicago team uttered more than 100 instances of bias, which is described as using "we," "us" or "our," using a player's nickname or outwardly rooting for their team during the length of a game broadcast. The report did not specify which games in particular were monitored and it appears the review examines strictly game play-by-play and color commentary.
Fox Sports Detroit's tandem of Emmy Award winner Mario Impemba and Rod Allen were recorded making seven such first-person statements.
It was noted the Tigers' announcers referred to backup catcher Gerald Laird as "G-Money" during their time under the microscope.
Allen told WSJ:
"It's important that when you can, you put a positive spin on the things that are going on."
Impemba and Allen ranked in the middle of the pack, while a handful of broadcasts remained completely impartial. 
The study also found big city broadcast teams tended to straddle the fence better than their small-market brethren.
Whether it's the division title race, the MVP race or the chance to see baseball's first Triple Crown in some 40 years, the Tigers' broadcast is on pace to be MLB's best-watched, according to SportsBusiness Journal.
The report, summarized by The Detroit News, shows Tigers broadcast viewership increased by 42 percent this season, reaching an average of 168,000 households.
It's worth noting the Tigers again surpassed the three-million mark in attendance this season.