SBD/January 11, 2013/Media

Filling In The Blanks: N.Y. Times Sports Editor Explains Thought Behind HOF Page

Times staffers began mulling over potential designs for the page last weekend
The N.Y. Times sports section Thursday ran a cover page that was more than three-quarters blank to represent the fact no players were inducted into the Baseball HOF this year, and "reaction came quickly from the media world, and it was largely positive," according to N.Y. TIMES Public Editor Margaret Sullivan. Times Sports Editor Joe Sexton earlier this week "approved the design," which came from Sports Art Dir Wayne Kamidoi and Assistant Sports Editor Jay Schreiber. Sexton said, "Tyler Kepner had written as early as the weekend that this was likely [no one getting elected], so that’s when people’s brains started firing -- or misfiring." Sexton said that he "liked the idea -- the creation of 'a striking, profound emptiness' -- from the start, noting that 'white space is the most undervalued thing' in news presentation." Sexton: "The job of a newspaper is to capture a moment -- small, large, historic, otherwise -- and you can do that creatively and surprisingly. I don’t view it as wasted space but as an effective use of the printed newspaper for conveying the significance of the day’s events" (NYTIMES.com, 1/10). Sexton added Kamidoi and Schreiber "saw the chance to capture the very old, very dispiriting story of steroids in baseball in a freshly powerful way" (THEWRAP.com, 1/10). AD WEEK noted there is a "list of several nominated players and the vote percentage they received at the bottom of the empty box in miniscule type" (ADWEEK.com, 1/10).

OVER THE TOP FOR SOME: The blank page was discussed Thursday on ESPN's "Around The Horn," with the Miami Herald's Israel Gutierrez saying it "could have been more of an impact with strong words as opposed to nothing at all." However, it "makes the point that the Baseball Hall of Fame choice was nonsense." Columnist Kevin Blackistone said, “I’d rather have some smart commentary and analysis from the New York Times that I’m accustomed to getting.” Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw: “I got the point. They could have done it with a picture of an empty dugout.” ESPN’s J.A. Adande said it was an “artistic representation." Adande said "blank space in newspapers and dead air on TV is a failure on the media, just like the media failed to properly question and investigate" the steroid era. Adande: "Just like they’re failing now to report the news rather than making the news, and they have made the news with this nonsensical Hall of Fame vote” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 1/10). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said the page was “clever but also, and this is symbolic for me given what the writers did yesterday, very ‘look at me.’" Le Batard: "The sanctimonious writers, ‘look at me, look at what we did with our sports page, look at what we did with our Hall of Fame’" (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 1/10). Blogger Ed Sherman wrote the page "definitely makes a point." It shows "how design can be a profoundly powerful tool" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 1/10).

LATE-NIGHT LAUGHS: Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart Thursday aired a segment called “Jon Stewart’s Seventh Inning Kvetch,” during which he talked about the Baseball HOF voting. Stewart said among the nominees were Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds and “granted, due to potentially excessive steroid use their bodies were 98 percent Adamantium. But you can’t deny their performances.” This “is a big deal. Nobody got in. I mean, I get why they passed up ‘Monsters, Inc.’ over here,” referring to Clemens, Sosa and Bonds, “but what about Craig Biggio.” Stewart: “The only thing that guy’s juicing is carrots, apples and kale" (“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central, 1/10).
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