Res Ipsa Loquitur

These are indeed strange times in the Toronto sports media scene. There have been more changes at various outlets over the last 90 days then over the last number of years it seems. The changes appear to keep on rolling with all kinds of parties playing different roles in the local media scene. As a result people are starting to do some rather whacky things and say things on air or write things that perhaps they wouldn’t have otherwise have said or written. So sit back and enjoy I have a few things on my mind….It is the time of year where I am supposed to attone for my sins and well………I am going to start with some airing of grievances.

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention an article by Bruce Dowbiggin in today’s Globe and Mail. As the title of this article suggests, the column speaks for itself:

“That might be a problem as “blogger” has come to be synonymous for bending the rules on sourcing or taking liberties with research. Others complain that bloggers hiding behind anonymity don’t reveal their conflicts or connections to either management or players. Things that would never pass muster with an editor go viral on the internet. ”

Ok, so Mr. Dowbiggin is laying the foundation to compare the MSMer vs. the “blogger”, yet only a few paragraphs below….:

” Speaking of reporting ethics – Ines Sainz is a former Miss Universe contestant whose stunts as a pseudo-reporter include pursuing Tom Brady of the Patriots at Super Bowl media day while wearing as wedding dress.”

One small problem. Ines Sainz didn’t pursue Tom Brady in a wedding dress. The woman who DID “pursue” Tom Brady in a wedding dress was named Ines Gomez. Now, I ask (rhetorically) isn’t that what one could refer to as taking liberties with research and I am not quite sure how it passed muster from an editor.

Like I said… Res Ipsa Loquitor.

Then Dowbiggin joined Mccown on PTS this afternoon after talking golf for a while they talked about the article.

Mccown asked what Dowbiggin meant by bloggers in the pressbox?

Dowbiggin said that the blogging thing is big news these days, becoming more prevalent and that bloggers breaking stories before MSMers- and now bloggers are demanding equal footing including a position in lockerooms…

Interestingly, Dowbiggin said that he supports bloggers, that he appreciates the position they are in.

However he said that he supports the clubs too, he understands the issues they are facing, who do you let in to the pressbox and why…clubs, Dowbiggin said are worried about liberties that bloggers take on fact checking and more.

The difference, according to Dowbiggin is that MSMers have liability; teams can sue the outlets. A real reporter works for, Mccown’s Rogers, and Dowbiggin’s Globe and Mail, their employers, whereas if a blogger writes untruths what will the club get from the blogger? Dowbiggin uses the example of a blogger writing a lie about seeing Dion Pheneuf out doing something and having no real recourse in a court of law as the blogger ( I assume he means has no deep pockets compared to Rogers or the Globe).

Mccown asked Dowbiggin what is a blogger. Dowbiggin said that it is sometimes discernible through the content, a blog is more individual opinion based as opposed to an article which is fact based.

The most interesting thing Dowbiggin said was that Bloggers shouldn’t learn in the maple leafs pressbox they should learn in the minors.

Now, the problem is, irrespective of whether a team gives a blogger a press pass or not anyone these days can write what they want and publish it. The mere fact that they have access to a pressbox or locker room isn’t going to change anything. With Twitter, facebook, blogs, cellphones – whatever we are now all armed with the ability to publish. So If a blogger wants to say that any player on any team is out doing something they can. The presspass isn’t going to change anything.

I have said the same thing over and over again. There can’t be a blanket policy. It doesn’t work. Each case should be looked at on its own merits. If someone is looking for nothing more than a free ticket it will become pretty evident. If a blogger only wants access so they can hang around dressing rooms it will become pretty evident. There are lots of teams who have embraced bloggers where it has worked. In cases where someone is an idiot, it gets dealt with. Its no different than any other part of life.

I think a good media person can look at the work of a writer- blogger or msmer and make a decision on the interest and intent of the writer. Most team PR people are pretty bright. The ones I have dealt with are extremely so. They can smell a rat or a jock sniffer a mile away. They can also start with limited access. If someone behaves then it can advance. If there is bad behavior they’ll be banned.

In any event, I have more…

Meanwhile, on the Ines Sainz issue Bob Mccown and John Shannon talked to Kathryn Humphreys of CityTv on PTS this evening. The issue for those not aware pertains to a female reporter who entered the New York Jets locker room while dressed “provocatively” and allegedly received “unusual attention” from both players and coaches. Think Lisa Olsen in the modern era. In any event, Mccown and Shannon called on the CityTv veteran sports reporter to discuss the whole women in men’s locker room issue.

In the moments before the segment, Shannon referred to Humphreys as one of the toughest “broads” in the business. Now, I am certain that Shannon didn’t mean anything by the term “broad” but- geez, who is he Reggie Dunlop??? Seriously, ask yourself this, when was the last time you heard anyone use that word????? I mean it’s like when someone refers to his wife as “the wife”…. I digress….

So Humphreys comes on the air and in a nutshell basically says that this whole thing is being blown out of proportion. Humphreys basically said that if your going to dress like that and you get a what a cat call, what did you expect? She dressed like that for a reason. Kathryn admited to using a little bit of “sexism” for lack of a better word to do her job in the past and really doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.

What caught me totally off guard was the personal attack she laid while discussing hockey players in general. Humphrey’s started off the interview by saying that she doesn’t consider herself to be a journalist. Rather while everyone is off working, doing something important she goes and gets the stories that we all want to hear about. She then said that there are those and I assume she meant women who do think they are journalists but Humphrey’s doesn’t think that the subject matter “warrants it” and that, she’s “interviewing high school dropouts who chase a hockey puck.”

Now, I emailed a few people that I thought would be listening to the interview to ensure that I got it right, and to confirm that Humphrey’s actually made the comment. All heard it the same as I did. Now I would love to be able to let you hear it too, but the Fan’s website is experiencing technical difficulties. So what you can do is go to itunes, search for prime time sports and you too can find the clip. It’s at roughly 20:50 of the 5pm podcast.

What a strange thing to say about hockey players. I mean, first, the obvious, not all hockey players ARE high school dropouts. There are several college graduates who play in the NHL. There are more high school graduates who play in the NHL. I mean, since when did we all get so judgmental on whether or not one finished high school or not? To cast that big a net seems pretty unfair to me. If I’m a Leaf or a player on another team and she comes down to interview me I’d be pretty damn offended at that comment. Because she interviews hockey players, who are high school dropouts she isn’t a journalist?????

Now, finally….. Last Friday on the PTS roundtable Mccown and Shannon were joined by Gord Kirke and Dave Perkins. The subject of interest, at least to me was that of the Maple Leafs signing of Micheal Liambis the banned for life OHL player for a hit Liambis delivered.

Below is an account of the dialogue that followed Mccown’s introduction of the topic. He asked each of his guests for their take. In that this is off of Itunes, it’s not exact but I think the gist is there.

Shannon: I struggle with it because the young guy he hit was younger, who is still recovering form post concussion syndrome, went into his draft year with no guarantee that he is going to ever play hockey again, hockey is more forgiving than others and the one thing that bothered me more was that Brian, um Brian Burke said on the radio this week that he actually considered signing Liambis to a tryout prior to the signing of the IHL team (that signed Liambis after the OHL suspension)- that kind of bothered me- it will be interesting to see what the reaction is with the rookie camp- should have waited a little while longer.

Perkins: nothing would surprise me about the Toronto maple leafs, its about the most morally bankrupt organizations in sports, I uh, nothing they do surprises me anymore- they are going to bring in this kid and what else is new?
I was at a function last night, ontario sports legends inductions with a number of maple leafs there, old timers, bobby baun, bobby nevin, george armstrong, dave keon etc were being inducted and the currency now is that the leafs are a joke, everyone makes a joke about the leafs , they are a national punch line- if you were the proprietors of the Toronto maple leafs you should be ashamed that you took this great Canadian institution and made it a national punch line and and that’s what it is- and moves like this , maybe the this kid can play hockey maybe he can’t, there is nothing beneath the Toronto maple leafs, but like I always say a 150 years ago they’d be selling diseased blankets to Indians. that’s how i feel

Krike: Well if Perkins is going to be mamby pamby then i will step right up- I can’t ascribe any malice or laudatory motivations to Burke without knowing what is on his mind- if this is a reclamation project, this kid did some bad stuff but he has talent and he has some talent and he wasn’t just a goon, did horrible things and branch war right- and Burke sees as reclamation project and kid will be grateful for and motivated by this opportunity and he can stay on the ice for sometimes, but can’t tell whats on Burke’s mind. If this is a move to bring in another goon I don’t applaud that, but I honestly don’t know what is in his mind.

Now- the discussion continued. However, let’s stop there. Is anyone else just a little bothered by the comments by Dave Perkins. No, I don’t mean the part about the team being a joke. Seriously. We Leaf fans have heard every joke. I am not defending the folks at MLSE on performance, as the title of this entry suggests, the record speaks for itself. To say that they are the most morally bankrupt franchise in sports??????? REALLY???? I can’t speak that much about the past- and no lets not talk about prices- but hasn’t MLSE and the Leafs been pretty big players in the community development department of late?

And if that wasn’t bad enough….The comment about the blankets in my mind is totally out of left field. If am sitting in the ACC I am livid. I mean, it’s one thing to have thick skin. It’s one thing to hear shots about one ice, on court on field losing. Doesn’t this cross the line even just a bit?????? Seriously. A few of you sent this to me, so I know I am not the only one who thought Perkins comments were at least a tad off colour. To be honest, I am quite surprised that Mccown let it go. I think a lot of things can be said without making it personally insulting and this one crossed the line. That’s my 2 cents.

Happy Thursday sorry for the rant.

For those who missed it Dowbiggin’s article is here

About the Author