Wednesday, February 15, 2006

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.



At 4:46 a.m., February 15, 2006, Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

I've taken you up on your names and quotes challenge: link

At 10:43 a.m., February 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve Simmons' column this morning was an embarrassment. He talked about all the "unanswered questions", even though there really aren't any. It was chalk full of innuendo and smear, hinting broadly that Gretzky must be guilty of something. Simmons has decided that this is a story simply because he is following it, notwithstanding the fact that his column today offered precisely zero in the way of new information. I guess one should expect little more from a Sun columnist.

At 3:20 p.m., February 15, 2006, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Steve Moore has filed a civil suit against Bertuzzi and the Canucks. Now they actually WILL have a story.

At 6:43 p.m., February 15, 2006, Blogger The Universal Cynic said...

I've already made the decision not to write about Gretzky this week. Regardless, I've never been so grateful to a Czech goaltender's injured hamstring in my entire life.

I'm continually perplexed and fascinated by the reactions of the respective Canadian and American media. The Americans are determined not to let this story die. Jim Rome had Michael Francese in studio today. Tony Kornheiser played Wayne Gretzky during "Role Play" on PTI. I'm doing a radio interview tomorrow for a Cleveland program, and the first thing they wanted to discuss with me was Tocchet and/or Gretzky.
Don't we both have Olympic hockey teams participating in tournament play overseas right now? That previous comment was bang on -- Steve Moore will overtake this insanity. I'll put the over/under on his civil suit story being posted on's front page at 45 minutes.

At 7:31 p.m., February 15, 2006, Anonymous Julian said...

James, please tell any buddies you have in the media who actually communicate directly or indirectly with the public that this is a worse reflection on the sports media than it is on Gretzky himself.

This is an excellent example of the media creating a story rather than just writing about it.

At 8:40 p.m., February 15, 2006, Blogger James Mirtle said...

The thing is, the media circus in Turin was unavoidable. The Canadian media aren't creating it over there — every paper around the world is sending their guys to find out what this story that graced the New York Times front page is all about.

Hockey? Who cares. Gretzky? Now there's a story.

Almost all of what the Canadian press wrote today about Gretzky was that the media contingent has gotten ridiculous, far bigger than the actual story was. Isn't that what the news now is?


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