Newspapers make a splash post-election

The Bakersfield Californian, 11/05/08
The Bakersfield Californian, 11/05/08
If there was ever a time when newspapers are at their most important, it’s during elections. After an election like the one in which America has just experienced, particularly its historic nature, newspapers have become the most sought after memento since 9/11.

I also jumped at the chance this this morning to check out the Newseum’s Web site all the major front pages, only to be welcomed to a slow, unresponsive Web site with dial-up type of speed due to the heavy traffic on the site.

I’d hate to see their bandwith bill.

So far, my favorite front page has been the Bakersfield Californian. I have a thing for reverse type and big photos.

But the bigger thing here is that newspapers still have a soft spot in people’s hearts. As a daily piece of history, newspapers will the way many, many folks remember their fondest memories when flash drives, CD-Roms and laptops are long gone. Hopefully, our trees will last as long too.

Ref Foster discusses friendship with Donaghy

As soon as NBA ref Tim Donaghy was caught betting on games, questions arose as to whether he was a “rogue criminal” as Commissioner David Stern suggested, or if this was a problem throughout the league. No other referees were charged with anything, but Scott Foster’s name came up in discussions because of the 134 short phone calls he had with Donaghy during his betting period.

An investigation cleared his name, legally, but now Foster has spoken publicly for the first time to declare his innocence. Nobody was more eager to tar and feather the NBA refs (even before the Donaghy situation, I think they’re terrible), but I’ve got to say, I believe the guy. In the interview (a must read if you followed the scandal), Foster comes off as candid and honest.

“The FBI specifically asked me, ‘Can you recall Tim pumping you for information?’ I was thinking, ‘How did I miss this? Am I a moron?’ But if two basketball referees aren’t talking basketball, there’s something wrong. That’s what we do. We talk about basketball. We talk about SportsCenter, we talk about what’s in the papers. I thought about everything he and I talked about and whether I knowingly gave him information or if he was using me in any way. Yes, he probably could’ve been doing that. But he was still my friend. I don’t think that all of our conversations were like, ‘Hey, Scott, tell me this! Tell me that!'”

He goes on to talk about how he and Donaghy met and became friends, how the scandal has affected his family, and how it has affected his reputation.

“You can say you don’t care what people think, but that’s not true. You do care what people think. You don’t want people to look at you like you’re a criminal, like you’ve been involved in some sort of shady business. For me, I had accomplished a goal I had worked a long time for: to work the Finals. I worked two games and was very excited about that. For 15 years and 22 years overall, I tried to be a referee who, when I walked on the floor, people would say, ‘He’s businesslike. He’s professional. He’s fair. He’s not a bad guy. I can talk to him and he gives me answers that make sense.’ I thought I was getting to a point in my career that when I walked on the floor that my partners were happy to be with me. That the coaches — not all of them, that’s not going to happen — but for the most part would say, ‘Eh, we’re gonna get a fair shake.’ And then, in one fell swoop, I felt like all that credibility and all that hard work, gaining that confidence, had been wiped away.”

Foster was right when he said that an investigative report won’t clear his name completely, which is part of the reason he chose to talk. It’s much easier to believe the man himself when he presents himself as honestly as he can.

So while I still can’t stand the way NBA games are called and think all the refs should be fired, I guess I’ll at least excuse Foster on all counts of cheating.

Raiders waive DeAngelo Hall

Maybe it was that first game (on Monday night of all occasions) where he lost his manhood to super rookie receiver Eddie Royal of the Denver Broncos. Or maybe it was the fact that he could never play man defense, getting prime time coverage in Atlanta in the Cover-2 defense the Falcons employ. Or, Al Davis could just be as crazy as I’ve been trying to tell you for the last five years.

Without an announcement, the Raiders waived Hall, thereby eating $8 million in losses. Can we say, bust?

Election day ethics worries

Gwen Ifill was wrongly accused of partisanship before the vice presidential debate.
Gwen Ifill was wrongly accused of partisanship before the vice presidential debate.
As a black journalist, I now know how black women feel every day. There are two strikes against black women, as they say. One for being a woman and another for being black.

As election day nears, and as we’ve all witnessed the accusations that 90 percent of journalists are for the DNC and 90 percent of black people are for Barack Obama, I watch stunningly as colleagues and young journalists (like myself) are accused directly and indirectly of being the “liberal elite” as well as helping undermine the Republican party.

I disagree wholeheartedly with both notions.

I’d like to declare myself as an American first (can I do that?). I was born here, so I have my claim and stake in matters. I’m from San Francisco, a middle class black neighborhood (although gentrification is changing that). There are three generations of the Berry family from San Francisco. From the bat, most take the connotation of a San Francisco native as a liberal. I disagree with that as well.

The inherent problem with these arguments (against black people, journalists, and San Franciscans) is the assumption of values. It’s a fallacy of a short and shriveled argument, used time and time again to alienate, discredit or disenfranchise a particular group. Lately, it’s been all the journalist bashing by the GOP. We’ve seen it in on the campaign trail when black people were openly questioned as to whether they can cover the Presidential campaigns fairly. The context of Obama’s “bitter” comments in San Francisco fueled a firestorm. All for what? To prove what point?

You can take away two things from this sort of thinking: There is a double standard for black journalists and San Francisco is a punchline for Republicans.

I honestly believe that while journalists, those practicing and teaching the craft, understand that there is no such thing as objectivity, the masses do not. Furthermore, while journalists consider themselves purveyors of truth and fairness, the masses do not understand the imbalance against bad politicians this social contract generates. They don’t even understand the importance of fairness while maintaining the truth — however inconvenient it is to any particular candidate.

That’s right, I’m putting the blame on bad politicians for what appears like a one-sided press in their damnation of Republican and Democratic candidates. (I’m a firm believer of ” It depends on who’s side your on.” I’d like to say candidate bashing and gratification goes on for both sides.)

Two simple examples you will see on the campaign trail every single day: 1) John McCain = George W. Bush. Not true. While both candidates voted on party lines, only one is tied to an unpopular President. 2) Obama is not a socialist. Our country is. The income tax, implemented in 1913 through the ratification of the 16th amendment, redistributes the wealth more than Obama ever could.

As you probably already know, both sides already have defended themselves against these sort of gray area claims that actually have half truths to them. And the media has reported on it. But then there comes the polls of excessive negative stories on one candidate over the other. And therein lies the reality of fairness.

If one candidate’s party and campaign “throws the kitchen sink” at the other, there’s bound to be more negative stories about the distortions of truth and outright lies in the aforementioned sink. It’s the nature of the beast. Complaining about it is just a natural reaction.

Whereas the accusations of the lack of impartiality, or in actuality fairness, by black journalists is more outrageous in my mind. Would a white journalist ever be accused of covering a white candidate in the same light? It hasn’t happened before and I dare say that in many minds it’s irrelevant. The hypocrisy laced insinuation is racially based and therefore moot.

Lastly, San Francisco is known for many things. Diversity being the most prominent, in my mind. How can a city known for its diversity — of thought, culture and race — have its minority political party be so disregarded by folks in the country? I believe reputations last longer than the truth that bore them.

How much value do you put in journalism?

How much is this rag tag industry I love worth to you? How much do you value the daily proposition at hand?

Today, now more than ever, we’re at a cross roads. No, I’m not writing about our country; I’m writing about the media. To be specific, I mean the uninfluenced, open dialogue platform that is the medium which you are consuming right now — journalism. Specifically newspapers. The analysis of the slow death of this industry is endless, and really ruthless in a lot of respects. On one end, we’re watching as newspaper companies are bleeding from their self-inflicted wounds (McClatchey or Tribune) and on the other we’re watching under-capitalization put the dagger right in the back of broken communities (MediaNews). In the middle, the economy has tanked so far as much to put a strain on many a consumer, businesses and etc., for even the most solid papers to scream uncle. But in the end, we continue to circle the wagons right back to where we started. How much is knowledge worth to you?

Can you quantify how often it is that you depend upon what journalists provide? What a sports journalist provides? Do you know exactly what I do for a living? (Think cave-man like: I both hunt and gather news.) Look, the fat cat days of the ’80s are over. We know that. We are no longer working on a surplus budget in which we can throw money at coverage or people. Furthermore, industrial and philosophical change has divided the best of newsrooms.

Anyone with an ‘old days’ story will tell you that.

But the value of news, the information, the dialogue and the watchdog role is still paramount — at least in my belief. Who is going to follow the standards, set by editors long before me, to verify your sources thrice over? Who’s going to be fair?

I hope to explore that here. That and more.

Mavs and Cowboys to co-host all-star game

From the Wire:

Associated Press — The NBA All-Star game is coming to the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in 2010 and plenty of good seats are available — more than 100,000.

Living up to the old adage about doing things bigger in Texas, the Dallas Mavericks and Cowboys are collaborating on hosting next season’s showcase event. It will be among the first major events at the soon-to-be-completed, $1.1 billion facility in nearby Arlington.

And, if all goes according to plan, this event will set the record for the largest crowd ever to watch an NBA game, shattering the mark of 44,735 set at the 1989 All-Star Game, not-so-coincidentally held at another Texas-sized venue, the Houston Astrodome.

“It’s totally outrageous,” NBA commissioner David Stern said.

Just wait until he hears Mavs owner Mark Cuban’s idea about putting the record out of reach.

“If we can get people to sit on each other’s laps, it could be 200,000,” Cuban said, laughing.

The 2010 All-Star weekend is being hyped as a collaboration between teams and cities. Some events will be held at the Dallas Convention Center, with the Mavericks’ arena hosting the rookie game on Friday night and the Saturday night festivities, which include the 3-point and dunk contests.
The marquee game will be Sunday, with center court right at midfield of the football stadium.

“We’ve got complete flexibility with the configuration,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “That’s what we spent a lot of money on, to adapt it to these kinds of events.”

The Cowboys also are trying to lure Final Fours. They’ve already landed the 2011 Super Bowl, as well as the Cotton Bowl, starting Jan. 1, 2010.

You can start voting for the NFL pro bowl

The ballot is out for those that are interested in voting for the Pro Bowl. You know, I always love to vote for these things but I rarely ever watch. It’s guaranteed every year I’ll catch the NBA All-Star game (and some of its festivities), I’ll tune in for a couple of innings for the MLB All-Star game, but I’ll never even come close to watching the Pro Bowl. I don’t even know what channel it comes on.

Either way, I’m voting for Adrian Peterson.

Warriors fall short in opener

The DeMarcus Nelson experiment didn’t turn out so well in the Warriors’ first game. He played sparingly, only 14 minutes, and scored six points in his time on the court. He only had two turnovers, but it’s clear from the numbers Don Nelson is not favoring him.

Here’s what the AP had to say:

Oakland native DeMarcus Nelson was the Warriors’ starting point guard, parlaying a strong training camp into the chance to become the Warriors’ first undrafted free agent rookie to start on opening night since the club moved to the Bay Area in 1962. After Stojakovic hit three jumpers over him in the first three minutes, Nelson was pulled for Azubuike — but he returned with a handful of strong plays in the second quarter, finishing with six points in 14 minutes.

On the other hand, it appears Corey Maggette is reinvigorated in the Bay. He dropped 27 points and had eight rebounds.

(I feel like I can just read from the box score and make all kinds of assumptions.)

But the end result is still the same. Warriors lose 108-103 with Chris Paul dropping the go-ahead layup with 19 seconds left.