Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Its Time to Take some Dynamite to the STRIB's Twin Coverage

This headline is a take off on a headline from today's Twins coverage on the Star Tribune web site. I haven't read the story, but there is a reason for that. Mostly what you get from the Strib is misinformation, speculation and pot-stirring that does more to mislead than inform. I suppose that isn't only true for their Twins coverage, but that is a different subject.

Competition from the internet has pushed the "professional" journalists into little more than blogging fans. Its impossible to distinguish between what is their own speculation and what is reporting from talking to Twins officials. Worse, because they get paid to attract readers, the stories are increasingly sensationalized. They reflect the emotions in the comments section of the daily paper, rather than providing any analysis. Lets look at each of four writers who regularly "report" or comment on the Twins:

Lavelle Neal

In his youth, Neal reported what he heard from Twins officials. Often reading his reports would provide insights into the management and front office's thinking. But that was years ago before he got his legs under him. Now it appears he simply finds some source that will confirm his own opinions. Worse are the attempts to "buddy up" to fans. The goal seems to be less about giving fans information about the Twins and more creating an interesting media persona.

Joe Christiansen

Like Neal, Christiansen once provided news about the Twins. And like Neal, he now seems to mostly provide confirmation of his own speculation.

Howard Sinker

Sinker is a former Twins beat writer pretending to be "just a fan". At least what he imagines is just a fan. He was not really all that useful as a beat writer, as a pseudo-fan he is embarrassing. There are literally dozens of real fans out there who are blogging and tweeting their reactions to games. Sinker's stuff is just cynical pandering to fans emotions by someone who knows better.

Pat Reusse

Maybe I have been reading his stuff too long, all the way back to his start at the St. Paul paper. I actually laugh at some of his pandering. He is pretty transparent about using his column to stir the pot to get callers to his radio show. On the other hand, when he is only applying his cynicism to baseball and the Twins he provides a real counter-balance to his "fanboy" colleagues and bloggers. He actually does understand the game, has been around long enough not to get excited about some kid tearing up things at AAA and doesn't get fooled by the Twins PR.

When he isn't being self-consciously cynical, he is a pretty good reporter and analyst. On the other hand, there need to be more times like that. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be what the STRIB is looking for.

My favorite Reusse column was attacking the Twins for a roster move, after having spent half a season urging them to make that same move. He was, afterall, just a scribbler for the local paper. But it was a stupid thing to do and the "professionals" in Twins management should have known better. I liked that level of self-awareness and not taking himself too seriously. Unfortunately, far too many fans do take him, and others, seriously.

Anyway, now is the time for the STRIB to start thinking about next year's coverage. They have a bunch of talent in their "bloggers" section that could easily produce more with a press pass and a little money. Twinsgeek is a real fan, not a fake version. Hand Seth Strohs a press pass and have him do reports on the Twins minor leagues. Find someone who wants to report on Twins games, not the stadium food and local restaurants.

In the meantime, I pretty much ignore what appears in the STRIB. It isn't realiable and you will hear it repeated all over the web anyway. The best Twins news coverage is actually on the Twins site itself. And there are a lot better and more interesting commentaries on the internet than the STRIB offers.

1 comment:

Ben said...

Try listening to a segment about the Twins on KFAN sometime. It's just painful.

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