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Plain Dealer eliminates ‘gamer’

The Northeast Ohio Media Group has proven willing to innovate its Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com coverage. Just last week, its intention to hire a LeBron James beat reporter garnered national attention.

But NOMG had shifted from traditional approaches long before James took his talents back to the Akron area. One such step in a new direction involved the transformation of the “game story,”‘ a move that Ted Diadiun explained in a column last weekend. 

Post All-Star break, Cleveland Indians “gamers” looked different. In place of play-by-play, stat-by-stat summary was a comprehensive explanation in short bursts that included analysis and game highlights. 

Why the switch? From Diadiun’s column:

“The traditional game story told fans what most of them already knew,” [NOMG Vice President of Content Chris Quinn] said. “(The new approach) allows our experts to provide perspective. I would rather give people five cool things relating to the game, with their own headlines, instead of burying them in a long game story that readers might not get to.”

The Associated Press has taken a similar approach effective last Sunday.

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Stephen A. Smith apologizes for controversial comments

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“First Take,” ESPN2′s debate show featuring Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, faced a firestorm of controversy last Friday when Smith seemed to insinuate, in discussing Ray Rice’s two-game suspension from the National Football League, that some women provoke acts of domestic violence. 

Monday morning, Smith apologized at the show’s start.

From Smith:

“On Friday, speaking right here on “First Take” on the subject of domestic violence, I made what can only amount to the most egregious error of my career…My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault. This was not my intent. It is not what I was trying to say. Yet the failure to clearly articulate something different lies squarely on my shoulders.”

Chris Chase of USA Today’s For the Win (along with NSJC contributor Ed Sherman, Deadspin and others) found fault with “First Take” immediately moving from host Cari Champion’s perspective to a Bayless take on LeBron James’s jersey number. But a statement from ESPN public relations suggests the conversation continues behind the camera.

“We will continue to have constructive dialogue on this important topic,” the statement said. “Stephen’s comments last Friday do not reflect our company’s point of view. As his apology demonstrates, he recognizes his mistakes and has a deeper appreciation of our company values.”

The New York Daily News reported Saturday that, coincidentally, Smith will be leaving his ESPN Radio show (on 98.7 FM) for Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Radio channel.

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SI publishes female journalist’s experience

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Sports Illustrated media writer Richard Deitsch has often championed the cause of greater gender equality in sports journalism. In his latest column, he allowed one sports reporter to speak for herself in a letter reflecting on troubling industry trends. 

She requested anonymity as to not further diminish her job opportunities.

“Mostly, what I garnered from execs (in so many words) is that they want someone homogeneous,” she writes. “They can’t seem to think outside of the box. They look at your resume and reel…If you can be cookie-cutter, you’re in. If you’re in your 20s and inexperienced, that’s fine. If you’re in your 30s and more experienced, it’s not fine. It’s the weirdest thing to me… It seemed like male execs and agents just don’t want to be bothered with women. If they fit the homogeneous role, great. If not, they don’t want to invest the time or energy in creating something new or really trying to push the bar or even understanding what you bring to the table.”

The letter comes from a print and television sports reporter based on the West Coast.

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Baseball’s pace reflects bygone era

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Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon caused a slight stir when he admitted to reporters that he didn’t watch baseball on television because of its now cliche reputation: slow, boring, meditative. 

The quote resonated because despite Major League Baseball Advanced Media’s immense success, the game’s pace still lags behind society’s. 

In a post for The Cauldron, Mike Plugh explained the disconnect between a “game of intervals” and a world of multitaskers and clocks.

“Anthony Rendon was born in 1990,” writes Plugh. “The year before he was born, Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web. By the time Rendon was six years old, tens of millions of people were using the Web in the United States and around the world. Around the time of his eighth birthday, Google was established. Around his 10th birthday, AOL purchased Time Warner. At 15, he witnessed the birth of YouTube. It’s no wonder the Nats third baseman finds this rural game of intervals too long and boring to sit through. His entire life has coincided with our dramatic digital shift.”

Plugh lectures on media studies and communication at Fordham University.

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Writer laments lack of transparency in basketball

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Anonymous sources have proliferated professional basketball — and it’s not a good thing. 

This according to a source who displayed his name prominently at the top of his column, who decried the pervasive use of anonymous quotes and lack of league transparency at the expense of covering actual basketball. 

“Nobody gets in the basketball business to write about rumors,” writes Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico.

“Actually, I take that back. Some folks actually do enjoy covering the NBA as if it’s their own personal fantasy league. For some folks, gossip and the dream of daily trades make their existence pure heaven.

“I am not one of them. I love basketball. I hate rumors. I hate using unnamed sources. I’d much rather everyone go on record with everything they say. I also know that’s not reality.”

Amico offers his own solutions to bringing back named sources and transparency, including the reopening of practices to reporters, a more selective credentialing process and the NBA encouraging its personnel to speak on the record.

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All signs led to Gordon’s fifth Brickyard win

Brickyard logo INDIANAPOLIS – There were many signs that it would be Jeff Gordon’s day.

First, it was Jeff Gordon Day, as proclaimed by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard the Friday before the 21st running of the Brickyard 400.

Another came the week before. The first car Gordon drove to victory lane at Indianapolis 20 years and 90 wins ago was displayed in front of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame and in downtown Indy for the nostalgic and the curious to inspect.

The third sign was literally handed to the five-time Sprint Cup Champion. IMS presented Gordon, 42, with the gift of the No. 24 signage off the recently removed scoring pylon.

The final sign, the ultimate vote of confidence, came Sunday morning courtesy of Rick Hendrick, the only car owner Gordon has ever answered to in his 22-year Sprint Cup career.

“What did I tell you this morning?” Hendrick asked Gordon over the radio, as the driver circled back to the front stretch to celebrate his fifth Brickyard win. “What did I tell you when I got here?”

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Rookie Larson finishes seventh in Brickyard 400

Brickyard logo INDIANAPOLIS- Like most kids growing up around a racetrack, the dream of becoming a racecar driver seemed achievable.

However, Kyle Larson, a 21-year-old Japanese American stock car driver from Elk Grove, Calif., took this dream and made it a reality.

On Saturday, the naturally-gifted Larson qualified for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400.

“This track has a lot of history,” Larson said afterwards. “I think we have a good race car but we just need to make the right adjustments.”

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The Buzz

Jul 28, 2014NFL rep speaks on Ray Rice suspension

NFL Senior Vice President of Labor Policy Adolpho Birch spoke to ESPN’s Mike and Mike regarding the controversial Ray Rice ruling. [ESPN Radio]

Jul 25, 2014Stephen A. Smith’s Ray Rice comments cause stir

Smith’s comments on the issue of domestic violence and mutual culpability have caused controversy. [Deadspin]

Jul 23, 2014Rice retires from NFL

The Seattle Seahawks’ Sidney Rice has decided to retire from football after a concussion-riddled career [Pro Football Talk].

more of The Buzz »