Some wise folks once told me that whenever you add a "but" to a sentence, you're negating what you've just said. "I don't mean to be nosy, but...." (then you ask a personal question), "I don't mean to be mean, but..." (and you go on to insult someone's taste or appearance), or "I'm not trying to micro-manage, but..." (and you take over what clearly is someone else's responsibility). Ah, that favorite word, "but".
As I read an article this morning about Bubba Watson by Jeff Rude (his column is called "Hate to Be Rude") I could feel the word "but" coming. He didn't actually use it (he used "yet", which to me meant the same thing), but the point seemed the same.
I don't know about you, but right there I could feel a huge "but" coming. And here's what came next. "Yet there was something a bit concerning about his news conference in The Big Easy. Watson went out of his way a few times, sometimes playfully, to poke “the media.” One sensed an undercurrent of distrust or dislike." (sidebar: I believe the "One sensed" would actualy be "Rude sensed") Rude summarizes it all by saying, "The headline could have read, 'Freshly minted media darling bites the hand that helps feed.'”.
From there he goes on to quote six instances where Watson takes a "jab" at "the media" for reportedly inaccurate information or negative reporting. (Sidebar: This came from Watson's press conference on Tuesday...you can read the whole transcript here: http://www.pgatour.com/2012/tournaments/r018/04/24/watson-interview/index.html - and I suggest you do so that you can get the full context of Bubba, not just the skewed perspective of Mr. Rude).
From there Rude goes on to give Watson some advice... "But he would be well served to cease “the media” rhetoric immediately. It serves no positive purpose, particularly for him." (Whoa, we went from some playful poking and an undercurrent of distrust to "cease...immediately"? Things just got serious!) He follows that up with some quotes from Al McGuire and Arnold Palmer about how it's important to create a positive relationship with "the media".
The intersting thing is that both McGuire and Palmer have had decades of interaction with reporters and I bet if you asked them they could also probably tell some stories about how journalistic reporting has changed over the years.
What else is interesting about Rude's commentary is his perspective on "the media". He sidebars from Watson for this paragraph: "Though I’ve been in the business nearly 40 years, I’m not sure what the broad brush stroke of “the media” means anymore – though it doesn’t sound positive coming off the tongues of many, such as Watson’s on Tuesday. What with the social outlets of Facebook and Twitter and the like, not to mention the basement bloggers and pajama typists, everyone seems to be “the media” these days. That includes serial tweeter Bubba Watson himself."
Gee, are "basement bloggers" and "pajama typists" a little jab there by Mr. Rude? Is he talking about someone like me? (for the record, I hardly ever type this blog in my pajamas, unless I'm home sick). And I hardly think Watson considers himself "the media" just because he's found a great way to connect with his fans via Twitter. Although, many "journalists" and "golf writers" have Twitter accounts now, I suspect because they still have the desire to be the one to 'scoop' something, and is there anything more instant than Twitter?
I can understand professional journalists' frustration behind the exploding world of blogs, fan sites, message boards, and Twitter. It's easy to assume that "pajama typists" like me don't know anything about sources, research, and proper grammar in order to share "news". But you know what, there are a ton of great "bloggers" who do their homework, fact check their information, and share their perspective on what it is they're passionate about. And, they often steer their readers to the writings of "the media" by linking them in their articles (like I am doing). Maybe not every blogger knows the importance of giving sources credit when due, but I do.
In my opinion, a trend that is happening in "journalism" or "the media" is that "news reporters" are turning into bloggers how opine instead of report...I see more and more writer's opinions permeating inside of what you think might be a "news" article. It may start out feeling like you're reading a news report, but then there comes the "my take" or the "one-sidedness" of the story that prompts the reader to wonder if everything they've just read is factual or just a commentary.
Heck, Mr. Rude's article is a commentary - HIS opinion on Bubba Watson, not to mention his "advice". He didn't just report on his press conference, he picked out specific points to make his argument stick and went with it. Then he stuck in some (somewhat) relevant comments from 2 other people that really had nothing to do with Bubba Watson. What would have been some great commentary would be to have gone to Arnold Palmer, have him listen to Bubba's interview (or read the transcript) and then ask him how he thought Bubba did.
I'm asking you to do that right now - read Bubba's press transcript and see what you take away from it (see the link above). I know it won't be fair since you already know what Mr. Rude cherry-picked from it, but try your best to absorb it all and see what sticks out to you.
Here's what still sticks in my head - I really respected Watson for coming to defend in Zurich Classic in spite of his circumstances, being exhausted from the Masters aftermath and having such a strong desire to spend time withi his new son and wife at home, But he believes, "I'm here because I just felt like it was the right thing to do." He also was asked several questions about the adoption process and what it's like to be a new dad, which is a pretty amazing thing.
If Mr. Rude really cared about Bubba Watson and really believed his comments at his press conference were negative to the point that he was "biting the hand that helps feed him", then the right thing to do would have been to take that concern to Bubba, as a professional journalist, to find out Bubba's point of view and maybe to help him better communicate during talks with "the media".
But what did he do? He wrote a commentary on how Bubba Watson, if he knows what's good for him, better shape up when it comes to talking about "the media".
Is it just me, or did Mr. Rude just give Watson another reason not to want to talk to "the media"? (he's giving ALL of us a bad name!) You'd almost guess this is really just about trying to sell magazines or get web site hits. Sigh.
My advice to Mr. Rude is this... "He would be well served to cease “the Bubba Watson” rhetoric immediately. It serves no positive purpose in your weekly column."
Filed under: Golf, Cathy Erickson, Bubba Watson, "the media", Jeff Rude