Just How Powerful Are The Sports Media?

Tomorrow, memorial day, May 30, is a special day at chateau TSM. 12 years ago (gulp) Mrs. TSM and I tied the knot. Little did I know that when she tied it, she did so with a double knot.

In any event, I’ve had some interesting conversations with several MSMers over the last couple of days, talking about various issues and without the topic being a focal point of any specific discussion it has become apparent to me anyways that there are those in the Toronto MSM who believe that some of their fellow media members have in the past ( I can’t comment on the future) either gone out of their way to try to have a coach or GM fired or more interestingly to protect a coach or GM.

Several members of the media said to me that they are sure that more than a couple media members have tempered their criticism of certain individuals for fear that writing their true opinion would, could or should lead to that coach or gm being fired.

We’ve all read, watched or listened to various MSMers take on a coach, GM or player in an overly personal manner. There have been countless examples that come to mind where a media member wrote or spoke with a certain tone about a coach, player or GM, where we knew that there was total dislike on a personal level.

Maybe I am wrong, but it gets more difficult when I try to think of MSMers not saying or writing things to protect someone.

As I listened more intently over the last couple of weeks, it seems that is more the norm than I ever would have imagined. What surprises me is that how the reporting is being done with either a positive or negative bias could have any real effect here in Toronto. I mean, I never really thought that how any specific reporter reports could influence the actions or opinions of ownership or management (with respect to players or coaches).

So this leaves me with a couple of questions for you. First, just how powerful do you think our local media is in Toronto, could they get someone hired, fired or prevent a termination? Do you think that there are certain members of the sports media who would allow their personal likes or dislikes to taint their work? Of course, if you do think so, who are you thinking about and what examples do you have?

More later

The best article I read this weekend was by Vinay Menon on Don Cherry. You know I am not a huge Cherry fan, but I will tell you that it was a great read with lots of behind the scenes stuff.



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May 30, 2011 7:49 am

I think it was well known that Damian Cox made it his mission to get Cliff fletcher fired after his first stint as GM. Cox is also a big fan of Burke and his usual negativity is toned way down when commenting on Burke’s job to this point. Simmons went after Cito GAston as well moe than once. Neither of those two has enough real influence on people making hiring and firing decisions (in my opinion anyway)

I don’t think any media member is influential enough on management to get someone fired. But they can start the fans and other reporters thinking along the same lines, which eventually gives management the idea that everybody wants someone fired.

The fact Wilson didn’t get a contract extension may be from the court of public opinion. That’s a good thing whether it happened that way or not.

May 30, 2011 9:31 am

The Don Cherry article got me thinking as to what will happen with Grapeline. Will Brian Williams of TSN continue to host it on the Fan?

James High Park
James High Park
May 30, 2011 12:30 pm

there’s a mentality with those who see it as their jobs to “protect from criticism” or to explain the “difficulties of the job” to john and jane q sports public is perfectly illustrated by the reporting of Jay Triano

his overall coaching record is abysmal and he is clearly in over his head, but the msm sports narrative is that he’s “trying” and it’s “not his fault”

watch if this is the same script they use for AA if the jays
stay around or below .500 for the next few years

can you spot the similarity between the 2?

both are canadians in 2 leagues who have precious few canucks in them

i guess the sports msm feel that with so few canadians in coaching and management in those leagues they don’t wanna be negative or too critical because then they might get canned

May 30, 2011 1:18 pm

James you took the examples right out of my mouth. There are guys that will get a lot of rope and then there are guys who will be gone after right away and wins/loses don’t seem to even matter too much (even though we don’t have much wins for any of our teams)

Mike S
Mike S
May 30, 2011 1:42 pm

One of the most bitter feuds in Toronto over the last 10 years was Cox and Pat Quinn………..I don’t know if Cox tried to get Quinn fired but his personal relationship with Quinn definitely impacted on the way he covered and commented on the Leafs

May 30, 2011 10:03 pm

Triano was supposed to lose last year. (Remember the “you can’t make Chicken Salad from Chicken sh_t” line? ) He followed the ‘plan’ accoding to his GM – The Raps had no hope and needed a high pick this year. There are some decent young players. They had a weak roster and ridiculous injuriesto work with – How many wins would the best coach in the league get with that roster? Triano is not that bad a coach and the players were learning from him.

May 30, 2011 11:16 pm

Robinaurora, Fletcher NEEDED to be shown the door, if I recall. He lost his mind sometime after his divorce from his first wife (Boots?) and re-married. Just an opinion, but talk about being given some slack.

As for the media making a difference, again, if I recall, Howard Berger was first off the mark with the “is his job now in jeopardy?” angle with Pat Burns when he was coaching the Loafs. He downright trumpeted it! It got to be that because he said it first — and often — it almost became a self fulfilling prophecy. At some point even Pat said it to Fletcher — “Fire me!”. (I also believe that with all the media calling for Wilson’s head this year, that if it had been a less stubborn GM, he would have been fired before x-mas.)

Anyway, maybe Burns’ “best before date” had come and gone at that point, but he did go on to win a cup, so he had the last laugh.

Gerry (Burlington)
Gerry (Burlington)
May 31, 2011 8:34 am

I certainly believe there are times when the media does play an influential role in the firing of coaches and gm’s. Rightly or wrongly there are journalists etc… that for whatever reason begin to make it personal with certain personalities. As I recall, it became very personal between Cito and Bobcat. It wasn’t until it was announced that Cito was stepping down, that BobCat seemed to give it a rest. I also suspect that Roger’s corp. probably told Bob to give it a rest.

I find it very intriguing how the current NHL writers in this town seem quite intimidated by Burke. There are times where they are critical of him, but once he comes on the radio with them, he seems to have the ability to bully his way with them. I hold nothing against Burke for this as he really seems to know how to play and use the media for his benefit. Looking back at some of his proclamations ie. going after the sedin’s, we want John Tavares (the #1 pick) and despite not accomplishing these goals very little if any criticism followed. Will be interesting if the Leafs struggle out of the gate this coming season, how long Burke can hold off all of Wilson’s critics.

As for Triano, I believe he has no business being an NBA coach. To me this is a pure sentimental choice to win fans over. Colangelo has made his mistakes, but in order to secure another extension or another GM position elsewhere in the league he needs to step it up.

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