Media Musings: Rick Reilly Ditches Print Column, Newsday Scrubs Negativty from the Sports Section

Media Musings: Rick Reilly Ditches Print Column, Newsday Scrubs Negativty from the Sports Section

ESPN

Media Musings: Rick Reilly Ditches Print Column, Newsday Scrubs Negativty from the Sports Section

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Rick Reilly is no longer writing for ESPN the Magazine. It’ll be the first time in “more than a quarter century” that Reilly won’t be writing a regular column for a magazine.

“Yes, the magazine decision was mine. I really like the magazine, but I was ready to try more TV and Internet. I will still contribute longer pieces to the magazine now and then.”

In less than a year, the Magazine has lost its two biggest names (Simmons, Reilly). Jumping ship before the magazine goes under, perhaps?

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Read this

Sharp-eyed readers might have noticed something truly unusual in Gannett’s New Jersey newspapers. A new byline started appearing this month on articles about the New Jersey Devils hockey team, with a note under each piece stating that the author, Eric Marin, is employed by the Devils, not Gannett.

… and then the comment from the newspaper’s executive editor …

“As long as it served our readers and we told them where that content was coming from, the readers were fine with it. I think journalists get hung up on certain lines of what’s ethical more than the readers.”

… and you let us know if this kind of thing bothers you as a newspaper reader. Do readers care where the content is coming from?

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Newsday, which you can longer read for free online, has gone a step further: Scrubbing negativity from its sports pages.

The paper’s editors have told their writers there has to be a new, softer tone. They don’t want loaded words. They don’t want name-calling. They don’t want stories to be unnecessarily harsh.

This caused Wally Matthews, an occasionally-crabby (what sports writer isn’t?) columnist, to leave the paper. Here were a few items that were scrubbed from his columns that eventually forced him to look elsewhere for work

* called former Jets coaches Bill Parcells “surly” and Eric Mangini “something like ‘he’s about as communicative as a mummy,’”
* When he wrote a line that described how the Jets old headquarters at Hofstra had barbed wire around its facility to evoke the image that the team wasn’t previously friendly to the outside world, the line was edited out.
* In February… he wrote a “sarcastic” column about how the Mets seem to suffer from the same problem year after year. He said there was no name-calling. “Hank called me and said, ‘You know this can’t get into the paper,” said Mr. Matthews. “I said, ‘If it’s not getting in the paper, then I’m done writing columns. I know I still know how to write a column; I just don’t know how to do it for you.”

Unrelated: A couple years ago, we were told Matthews was sitting on a treasure trove of Mike Lupica tales. Apparently, the two don’t get along. We asked Matthews multiple times for an interview but he didn’t feel like dishing on Lupica. Must be saving them for his book.

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Can’t tell if this is a Bill Simmons column or something from the ESPN Ombudsman. This bad boy could be 6,000+ words. Two tidbits that stuck out:

One of the most frequent complaints in the mailbag relates to announcers who are incessantly sidetracked by observations, opinions and issues that viewers believe stray far afield from the game they’re watching.

Depending on the announcer, we actually don’t mind the straying.

ESPN is a national service, and that’s why it will always choose to broadcast teams that have established a national following. Take, for example, “Sunday Night Baseball.” More than twice as many fans tune in to watch a Yankees-Red Sox game than watch a game without either team — that’s 4.6 million people versus 2.1 million. What programmer wouldn’t want to attract 2.5 million extra sets of eyeballs by simply selecting an attractive matchup?

Obvious, but it needs to be hammered home.

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