Is Rogers Buying It’s Media Coverage?


Been buried with work, so I apologize for not getting you much lately. Besides with the Leafs eyeing the playoffs, the Jays finally underway it’s been VERY quiet of late.

Two stories caught my eye last week and I thought I would raise them.

Do you remember Howard Berger?

He used to be on the Fan, infamous for wearing sports teams jackets to press conferences and the like. More importantly, he was known in the early days as one of the first true Maple Leaf Insiders. Well, Howard still has a voice, a blog that he writes and he came a running to the defence of other insiders the other night. It’s quite a read:

“Breaking stories has never been more difficult than in today’s Internet/Twitter/Facebook era. Such pursuit is fraught with peril in the unspeakably competitive media world; always has been. Everyone wants to be first with a story… and why not? Revealing information has forever driven the industry. Reliable reporting cannot be measured by impeccability; nor can the standard of achievement in professional hockey.”

Now, make no mistake, none of the insiders have been heard complaining, not publicly nor any of the times I have talked to any of them. They work their a$$e$es off and rewarded nicely for their efforts. But this article is total crap. These insiders, for which Berger used to be one are paid specifically to break stories. That’s it. They are good at what they do and rewarded for having great contacts. What separates them from the rest, the pretenders is that they are right more often then others, they are right more often then they are wrong. No one is 100% accurate but for those who report on done deals after the fact.

The good ones, and there are only a few, no who to trust, whose word they can rely on and when to go to “air”.

Sports is a results business. Players, coaches, GM’s all are rated based upon their performance. The insiders are no different. If they start to become more wrong than right they too will end up on the sidelines. Simple enough.

The fact that people jumped on them when they got one wrong was more of a commentary on how ridiculous the coverage on this stuff has become. Used to be we made fun of the extra hour of Superbowl pre game coverage. The networks do pre-deadline shows and entire day shows. The coverage is election night esque except it’s 24/7 almost 365 days a year. So, yes, people were piling on when they ALL screwed one up. Nothing wrong with a little bit of levity.

Speaking of levity, who wants to buy some old nhl media guides 🙂 $2300 gets you a ton of them….

The other article that I found interesting was in the Globe and Mail.

“Mr. Pelley’s enthusiasm may get equity analysts and shareholders excited, but it can make sports journalists – and regular sports fans – feel kind of icky. In the most recent issue of Sportsnet magazine, their marquee sports columnist Stephen Brunt wrote a fawning article about the great chemistry between the Dominicans playing for the Jays. (The column promoted a 30-minute special Mr. Brunt hosted for the TV network called Up Close: Dominican Blue Jays.) How are we to tell that he’s applying any sort of critical eye to the subject?”

Wow, how many of you read this gem?

A fascinating read on whether or not the media can be unbiased when they own both the teams and the outlets. I wonder how Stephen Brunt, who used to write for the Globe and Mail felt about his former employer writing a story that calls into question his ability to separate church and state.

If Rogers were to outbid CBC for HNIC do you think Leafs coverage would differ much from Don Cherry smooching players?

There are tons of tales of sports teams freaking out and pulling strings with their rights holders. Rogers has owned the Blue Jays for some time and guys like McCown have gone after them pretty hard. Wilner may or may not have been suspended for Cito gate. Their were rumblings then that Rogers had pulled a string. I am not saying they did or didn’t but with media teams now owning teams in markets like Toronto suspicions will increase.

Well worth watching.


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April 3, 2013 3:40 am

Don’t forget, the Jays have just had an epic offseason. A lot of the love in stems from that. When the Escobar/Farrell stuff happened, the media (Rogers included) was very sour on the team.

Prior to mid November 2012, I felt the majority of Sportsnet folks were actually too critical of the direction of the club (Zaun, Brady, McCown to name a few).

So, while Sportsnet may cover the Jays a lot, I haven’t felt they’ve been biased in their assessments. The last couple months have been a unique time.

It’s good to keep an eye on it, an be aware that ownership owns both properties though. I just haven’t felt that journalistic integrity (as far as sports radio hosts have it) has been compromised yet.

April 3, 2013 3:45 am

…that might be the Globe and Mail’s way of showing sour grapes to Rogers for hiring away their premier sports columnist. But in any event, this is all about access to content. Rogers owns the Jays and has the right to present exclusive content like this just as TSN has exclusive CFL content. There is no longer a church vs state argument per se or the old media ownership debate that communication major students take in first year university. This is about the control of content – who pays for it and therefore who has the right to provide it and in turn, who controls the access to that content.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
April 3, 2013 7:36 am

the same Steven Brunt who, while covering the Olympics, jumped at the “once in a lifetime opportunity” to run with the Olympic torch? The same Steven Brunt who, when pressed on the seeming conflict of interest, was quick to tell everyone that “there is no conflict of interest (because i say so)” and then “there is no Santa Claus! (everyone else is doing it)” … i’m shocked.

The Dominican angle is interesting and can be cast as a “human interest” story. But, he is essentially paid to cover the team by the team, and the story appears only in the team owned magazine, and the story promotes a TV product on the team owned network. These facts raises legitimate questions about whether the piece is trying to be both journalism and PR. The expression “you can’t suck and blow at the same time” seems apt.

There was a time when Brunt was the best this country had to offer in sports journalism. I look forward to someone else firmly grabbing that mantle now that Steve has moved on to his new role.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
April 3, 2013 7:52 am

I am not saying they did or didn’t but with media teams now owning teams in markets like Toronto suspicions will increase.

what are you saying then?

the article you cited makes the claim that in the US team-owned broadcasters are mostly boosters for the team. It makes the further claim that once the top person at Rogers says that radio and TV and print are all there to funnel coverage towards the team, that mandate trickles down to the people covering the team. Is it your opinion that this is happening to some degree at Rogers?

One thing i’d be curious to hear about is how sports journalists who are un-attached to Rogers/Bell feel about their colleagues who are. Do they view people like Arthur/Blair/Cox/Feschuk/Simmons as less objective?

Steve Clark
April 3, 2013 8:58 am

I’ve felt that there has been a real soft touch with the Blue Jays leading up to this upcoming season. It seemed that every single media outlet sent their people down to Florida for one, two weeks up to one month. McCown did his show down there for two weeks and they were mostly puff pieces and interviews. Reporters and journalists were more intent on clamouring for the next human interest piece, rather than solid journalism. Maybe its all the expenses paid work trip that did it. I do not know.

For me the kid glove treatment of the Jays has actually made me less enthusiastic about the upcoming seaon. Nary a word has been spoken about Mielke Cabrera’s suspension and subsequent laughable fake web-site cover up or the fact that Johnson and Buerhle were .500 or sub .500 pitchers last year. Heck, even R.A. Dickey, who is a wonderful human interest story is on par with Nelson Mandela right now!

The one thing I do think is a good story is the fact that Brunt did something on the Dominicans. The Jays were at the forefront of mining Dominican talent in the early 80’s under Epy Guerrerro and then went away from that mindset. It is actually a good story to see them return to what made them succesful in the 80’s and early 90’s.

I actually am not criticizing Rogers for this. Content is king and the control all of the content because they have huge financial stake in the team.

April 3, 2013 8:58 am

A-freaking-men, Mike!

April 3, 2013 11:43 am

@Steve Wins for pitchers are irrelevant. Johnson and Buerhle both had nice years in 2012.

April 3, 2013 11:44 am

I enjoy Brunt, but you raise good points there, Mike.

Mike S
Mike S
April 3, 2013 10:56 pm

Why do people like Daniel have to say that wins for pitchers in baseball are irrelevant?…………….why can’t they just say that there are better ways to measure a pitcher’s effectiveness than by just looking at wins?…………….wins are not irrelevant, they are just less relevant than many people think

April 4, 2013 4:54 pm

“Why do people like Daniel have to say that wins for pitchers in baseball are irrelevant?”

Not sure what to tell you here… they are irrelevant! No baseball analysts really take the stat seriously anymore. 9 – 14 with a 3.80 ERA in 200 IP is just as good a performance as someone who went 18 – 5 with a 3.80 ERA in 200 IP. It depends on far too many variables that have nothing to do with the pitcher’s performance.

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