Thursday, February 1, 2018

Don't Be First - Just Get It Right

As busy and significant of a week as this is for sports media, we should not overlook still another media speculation story going bad and the impact it has on sports fans trying to keep up with their favorite teams and leagues.

Earlier this week, we had another of those "It looks like a done deal" stories about the Chicago Bulls trading Niko Mirotic to the New Orleans Pelicans. A couple of usually trustworthy team reporters had enough details to put out the story that the deal was imminent, even naming the player and draft pick expected in return.

However, the deal did not take place until more than two days later, and with more players involved than originally speculated upon. What happened during those times was that some local sports reports gave the story that "The Bulls still have not traded Mirotic" as if this was still a news story instead of spinning the rumor mill.

The fact that the trade actually took place, eventually, should not have any bearing on how sorry this type of reporting has become and what a poor reflection it is on the sports media. By now, fans know the feeling of waiting on the decision of a replay of a call during a key spot in the game. As impatient as we may get, we have that feeling of how important it is to "get the call right".

We need to have the same feeling when it comes to reporting facts. It doesn't matter which reporter "was the first" to break a story, which now seems to happen on social media after a trade becomes official or an injury status is revealed. If it isn't official, don't make it appear to be imminent. Be ready to report it when it happens instead of potentially having to retract it.

It so happens that the Chicago Bulls also were part of a big media story this week as well. The possible bankruptcy of the parent company of WLS 890 has the station dropping its contract to air the Bulls games immediately. Within a matter of days, WSCR The Score 670 picked up the broadcast rights and starts this weekend (Saturday 2/3). WLS did their final Bulls broadcast on Weds. January 31st, with the next game on WSCR. Their broadcast team of Chuck Swirsky and Bill Wennington remains in place.

Although WSCR will air most of the Bulls games, it appears the broadcasts will be farmed out to WIND 560 in the spring since the Cubs broadcasts will have priority. No word, as of press time, on what will happen when the Bulls games conflict with DePaul and University of Illinois basketball broadcasts it also carries.

WLS is also dropping their White Sox broadcasts for the same reason. At press time, no word on a station. With the team expected to have another losing season in 2018, this could prove to be a challenge for the team.

As we enter the final days of the super hype for the Super Bowl, the bigger story in the media is Fox Sports getting a five year deal for Thursday Night Football. This contract struck a blow against NBC and CBS, while also including streaming rights to cable/satellite subscribers.

This also has to be a huge disappointment for Mike Torico. Now that NBC will only have Sunday Night Football, and with Al Michaels showing no signs of retirement, Torico's NFL opportunities are now more limited.

Even with NFL ratings down for the regular season, the Pro Bowl last Sunday (1/28) somehow had ratings which were roughly 15% higher than last year's game.

Only days after WEEI-FM Boston extended its Patriots related programming for five more years (as we commented on last week) came the suspension by WEEI-FM of host Alex Reimer for his remarks about Tom Brady's 5-year old daughter which caused Brady to cut short is "Kirk & Callahan Show" segment.

Brady did go on to say that he does not want to see Reimer lose his job with the station over the incident, even though the station suspended him from the airwaves. Reimer's remarks, as inappropriate as they were, were actually not made over the air, coming on a Facebook only segment.

WEEI-FM's Kirk & Callahan Show was voted the top major market sports talk show in a vote of 47 radio executives for the Barrett Sports Media Survey for 2017. WXOS St. Louis' Bernie Miklasz was the winner, actually a repeat winner, in the mid-market category.

NBA ratings continue to do well this season, with TNT showing that its viewership overall has increased roughly 21% over last season through last week.

NEW YORK: It's a mystery, as of press time, as to why three scheduled (remaining) telecasts of Fairfield University basketball games have vanished from the SNY schedule. The network will apparently not be airing the Feb. 5, 15, and 17 games against Siena, Marist, and Quinnipiac.

WASHINGTON D.C.: Not sure if it has anything to do with ESPN's morning show screw up of ending Mike & Mike or not, but WTEM 980 has stopped using its affiliation with ESPN on its station ID's and transitions. The station is now branding itself as "The Team". Thus far, every ESPN program it has carried continues to air as scheduled.

KNOXVILLE: WVLZ has just been sold, with no word yet if the new ownership will continue the sports talk format or not.

COLUMBIA MO: KTGR has begun airing The Will Cain Show from 2 to 4 PM on weekdays, replacing The Paul Finebaum Show, which it had aired for nearly five years.

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