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ESPN and ESPN.com “took vastly different approaches” in its coverage of the London Games, according to Kelly McBride in the latest entry for ESPN as part of the Poynter Review Project. Those two ESPN platforms “illustrate what can sometimes be a philosophical divide between TV and digital within the Worldwide Leader in Sports, as well as their basic definitions of what is newsworthy.” The day after U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin won her first Gold Medal, "SportsCenter" used a "still photo or a couple of seconds of voice-over video ... depending on the hour" to describe the event, and then "moved on.” It was a “minimalist approach to the coverage of an amazing athletic feat accomplished by a 17-year-old with a good backstory.” Meanwhile, ESPN.com “took a different approach.” Writer Wayne Drehs “sidled up to Franklin's parents in the stands while their daughter got her gold medal.” In the time “that it takes for our national anthem to play and the American flag to rise, he gathered the yarn” for his story. These differences in coverage “surfaced repeatedly over the 17 days of the Olympics.” While ESPN.com “got creative,” ESPN often turned to "counter-programming." Perhaps the “most notable miscue" involved Alex Morgan's last-minute goal in the U.S.-Canada women's soccer game. The goal had “all the makings of a classic Top 10 play,” yet every Top 10 Play in the 8:00am ET "SportsCenter" broadcast on Aug. 8 was from MLB.
VIDEO RIGHTS HAMPERED EFFORTS: NBC is the American rights holder to Olympic footage, and McBride noted of the “hours and hours of amazing video every day, NBC released only the bare-bones highlights.” NBC also “dictated when the video was available and for how long.” ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer for News Coverage Mike Leber said that part of the problem “was the delay on video rights.” Top 10 Plays are edited around 1:00am ET, but the Olympic video “was not available” until 3:00am ET. That meant when Olympic moments “were included in Top 10 Plays,” as they were when Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt won the 100-meter dash, the segment “was re-edited later in the morning.” McBride wrote that practice “should have happened every morning.” McBride: “A lack of video is a much bigger problem on television. We get that. But three to four minutes an hour is just not enough acknowledgement of all the great sporting moments that happened daily in the Olympics. ... If you were just watching ESPN on TV, you might think the Olympics were not that big of a deal in the world of sports, less important, say, than the Little League World Series" (ESPN.com, 8/20).
The news about Augusta National Golf Club inviting Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore to become its first female members was one of the top headlines on all three broadcast network morning shows, with "CBS This Morning," "GMA" and "Today" all airing reports within the opening 15 minutes. ABC’s Steve Osunsami reported live from Augusta and then aired a taped report which included an interview with former National Council of Women's Organizations Chair Martha Burk and USA Today’s Christine Brennan. Osunsami said the issue over IBM CEO Virginia Rometty not being invited to join Augusta National may have “made the difference.” When that story “blew up in April, it put a lot of pressure on the club” ("GMA," ABC, 8/21). CBS aired a taped report from the net’s Armen Keteyian, which included an interview with Burk. Following the report, a taped interview with CBS’ Charlie Rose and golfer Rory McIlroy aired, with McIlroy saying, “It’s a great thing for golf. It’s a great thing for Augusta. I think it’s something they should have done a while ago, but it’s great to see.” Rose: “I assume this is just the beginning of it too, but they wanted to do it on their own time.” McIlroy said, “I think people have to respect that” ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 8/21). "Today" aired a live report from Augusta from NBC’s Janet Shamlian, who said a “big barrier fell here at Augusta yesterday in what many say is a move long overdue.” The report included interviews with Golf Digest Senior Editor Stina Sternberg, Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner and Charlotte Observer columnist Ron Green Sr. During the “Today’s Professionals” segment in the show's second hour, NBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman said this “is not about girls playing golf." Snyderman: "This is about women having access to power. This is where deals are made.” Deutsch Inc. Chair Donny Deutsch: “They were going to start losing sponsors. This was a dollars and cents (decision)” ("Today," NBC, 8/21).
NATIONAL PRESENCE: All three national news broadcasts last night also aired reports on Augusta National. NBC’s “Nightly News” first reported on the story at 8:28 (eight minutes, 28 seconds) into the broadcast, with 2:23 of total coverage. Sternberg said, “It’s like the Berlin Wall of discrimination finally coming down in golf.” NBC's Lisa Myers noted that a “club insider said that Rice and Moore have been under consideration for a number of years, but that the club was determined to admit women on its own terms and timetable.” Burk: "This is about access to power” ("Nightly News," NBC, 8/20). CBS’ “Evening News” first reported on Augusta at 8:34 into the telecast, with 2:50 of total coverage. CBS’ Norah O’Donnell said, “The Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia made history today” ("Evening News," CBS, 8/20). ABC’s “World News” first reported on Augusta at 11:09 into the broadcast with 1:53 of total coverage. ABC's Osunsami said the “biggest glass ceiling in sports was smashed.” Brennan said, “This is not just about playing golf. This is about the corridors of power in our country” ("World News," ABC, 8/20).
LATE-NIGHT LAUGHS: The decision also drew several mentions on the late-night talk shows. CBS’ David Letterman said, “Here's kind of a history making thing that I think we should care about, probably none of us do care about. But we're going to pretend that this is an important milestone in American culture. Two women have been admitted to membership at the Augusta National Golf Club. ... It’s a very important symbolic token gesture that really means nothing. But they did release this announcement. Take a look.” A clip was aired that showed scenes from the golf course and images of Rice and Moore with the narrator saying, “Okay, we’ve admitted two women and one of them is African-American. Now leave us alone. Augusta National Golf Club. We are golf” (“Late Show,” CBS, 8/20). NBC’s Jay Leno said, “Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters, announced that today for the first time ever, they're admitting females. … The two women are Condoleezza Rice and a banker named Darla Moore, marking the first time in the club's 80-year history that you don't have to have a member to be a member" ("The Tonight Show," NBC, 8/20).
Athletes at the Univ. of Louisville and Univ. of Kentucky must “surrender their online privacy to their coaches under a social media monitoring system used by both schools and others across the country,” according to a front-page piece by Mark Boxley of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. As a condition of “participating in sports, the schools require athletes to agree to monitoring software being placed on their social-media accounts.” The software “emails alerts to coaches whenever athletes use a word that could embarrass the student, the university or tarnish their images on services such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and MySpace.” UL flags “406 words or slang expressions that have to do with drugs, sex, or alcohol” and UK flags “a similar number, of which 370 are sports agents’ names.” The decision at UL whether to subscribe to UDiligence is “left up to each sport’s head coach,” and UL Senior Associate AD/Media Relations & SID Kenny Klein said that the men’s basketball and football teams “do not use the service.” UK Exec Associate AD DeWayne Peevy noted that all UK athletes "are required to use the Centrix Social service.” DC-based attorney and digital media expert Bradley Shear calls the practice “unbelievably outrageous” and “clearly unconstitutional.” He said that regulating students’ social media “opens the door to serious legal liability for the schools.” Boxley notes Baylor, Florida, LSU, Missouri, Ole Miss, Texas, and Texas A&M are among the other colleges to use UDiligence; Centrix Social is used by Auburn, Mississippi State and South Carolina, among others (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 8/21).
MONITORING THE MASSES: In San Jose, Jeff Faraudo reports Cal Dir of Football Social Media & Alumni Relations Delaney Gallagher will handle Cal's football alumni relations, but spend the “bulk of his time ... monitoring Facebook and Twitter for anything related to Cal football -- and especially recruiting.” Gallagher said, "I'm on there all day, from the moment I get in, to the moment I go to bed. It's part of the job. It's a necessity.” Cal football coach Jeff Tedford said, “It's not like we had our head buried in the sand by any means. But to monitor that 24 hours a day, no one has time for that -- especially me -- unless you can specifically have someone who that's their role.” Faraudo notes it is now “Gallagher’s job to deliver Cal’s digital message and to track the recruiting chatter and loop Tedford and his staff into anything relevant.” Cal AD Sandy Barbour said that being “on board with social media is ‘non-negotiable’ these days” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/21).
AN ISSUE IN THE PROS, TOO: The NFL Giants faced an internal issue after a locker-room video of DE Jason Pierre-Paul dunking CB Prince Amukamara appeared on the Twitter feed of P Steve Weatherford. The N.Y. Daily News’ Bob Raissman said social media is “becoming a problem for these teams.” Raissman: “You have the coach of the Cincinnati Bengals saying his guys can't tweet. You have a lot of restrictions being placed because these guys can't handle it.” SportsNet N.Y.’s Eamon McAnaney said, “People do dumb things with smartphones" (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 8/20). NBC Sports Network’s Amani Toomer said, “Since Twitter came out, there is no way you’re going to be able to keep some of this stuff (in). ... Stuff like this will come out and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg” ("NBC Sports Talk," NBC Sports Network, 8/20).
In L.A., Joe Flint reports "Fox NFL Sunday" analyst Michael Strahan is “in the running for the job of co-host" of the morning talk show "Live! with Kelly," but he is "expected to keep working at Fox as one of the hosts of its popular NFL pregame program ‘Fox NFL Sunday’ should he land the job.” Landing the job will “certainly mean less sleep and more travel for Strahan because ‘Live!’ shoots in New York City, while ‘Fox NFL Sunday’ is produced out of Los Angeles” (L.A. TIMES, 8/21).
EARLY RISERS: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand notes NFL preseason games “can get amazing ratings." The 6.8 overnight for NBC’s Colts-Steelers telecast Sunday night topped the 6.1 for the net’s final-round coverage of the U.S. Open, which played in primetime in the east. Fox' coverage of Friday’s Lions-Ravens game drew a 3.5 rating, “up 25% from comparable coverage” of a Falcons-Jaguars game last preseason. Hiestand: "An interesting ratings experiment would be to stack NFL jerseys on a field and see what kind of rating they’d get” (USA TODAY, 8/21).
GO FISH: In Miami, Clark Spencer notes Showtime will air its final episode of “The Franchise” tomorrow, and Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said that he can “understand why.” Guillen said, “The way we play, who wants to watch that (expletive)? I don’t want to watch it. Every time I watch an episode, I get depressed.” Guillen said that he “thinks the series might have changed the perception others have of him by humanizing him in a positive way.” He said, “They see the way I respect players. I think people now know a little bit more about me” (MIAMI HERALD, 8/21).
GAMESMANSHIP: The GUARDIAN’s Josh Halliday noted a new U.K. TV channel "is launching in the wake of the London 2012 Olympics, providing coverage of sports featured at the Games including judo, gymnastics and fencing.” London Legacy will be a “24-hour-a-day channel, launching in November and showing 24 Olympic sports.” The channel will “initially only be available to BSkyB's satellite TV customers, but is seeking wider distribution.” London Legacy is “being launched” by independent TV production company Highflyer and will cost it around US$8.6M (GUARDIAN, 8/20).