Gretzky and his media friends
Well, the story now (is there a story?) is that Gretzky's being hounded by the media. Or, at least so says the media that is hounding him.
Now, I'm reporting on the media reporting on the media circus. Soon, other bloggers will write about me writing about the media writing about the media circus.
In short, it's getting good. (I'm kidding.)
I found myself wondering tonight, what I would write if I was assigned to 'cover' the Gretzky 'story.' (Because, as much as the public is railing against the guys on the ground for this story, they for the most part aren't picking their stories — and certainly aren't putting them on the front page. Although, to be fair, people are railing against, simply, 'the media' — and everyone and anything associated with it.)
I'd probably write... Gretzky looks tired. He's surrounded by xxx number of media members. He was asked 'blah blah blah' to which he said 'blah blah blah.' And, the dance continued.
The thing is, Gretzky looks and sounds tired because it's just hopelessly, unbelievably draining to engage in a mindless question and answer where both sides already know the questions and answers.
Just thinking about it makes me glad I'm sitting on the desk.
Still, some of the criticism being thrown the media's way is, well, as silly as all this business that's going on now. (Public opinion on the matter can be easily weighed by perusing the comments section over at The Toronto Star's The Spin.)
One of the biggest problems with what has come out in opinion columns on the Gretzky issue the past few days is that much of the 'opinion' was based on untrue allegations: That Wayne denied knowledge of the gambling ring when the police had wiretaps of him talking about it earlier. (Here's a Tim Panaccio column that highlights that nicely.)
Now, nothing in Panaccio's piece is libelling Gretzky. So throw that complaint out. Nor is he saying Gretzky's 'a bad guy,' like many are complaining the media has made him out to be. In Panaccio's 'opinion,' based on the inaccurate information leaked, Gretzky should have stayed home. Even if we don't agree with that, it's fair comment.
The truth is, there has been a lot of decent reporting of the events of the last few days. There has also been, unfortunately, a lot of garbage. But I don't think it's acceptable, in the face of that, to simply charge 'the media' as being an unfair monster. That's too simple-minded, too easy. It's committing the same faults for which the criticism is being levied. Rather, let's put names out there, quote articles and write about specific problems with the coverage. That, I have no problem with.
The only way bad journalism wins out is if the demand for it is there. Right now, and with this story, it's there.
(And let's keep in mind that Don Cherry's 'show the front page' exercise offered nothing in the way of critical analysis other than 'Look! Gretzky's in the news!' That fact, in itself, is not bad. It simply is.)
In any event, those talking about this story will get their wish and the story will croak soon, as it has been long beaten to death — even by schlock-media standards.
Should Canada not win the gold medal, however, it'll be back. (Probably uglier than ever.) And, at least by some, the Gretzky sideshow will be blamed for the loss.
But not here.