Blogs v. MSM: Round LXXVIII

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This entry was posted during my lunch break at work, which runs from 1:00-1:30 PM. As such, it was posted before this. Dan Steinberg stole my entry title. Sort of. He shall experience my wrath.)

Nothing like a good old media war to get us through the hockey doldrums of August, huh?

As anyone who regularly checks this site has probably figured out, I don't feel particularly motivated to spend too much time writing about the Caps during the offseason. But the current war of words between Ted Leonsis and WTEM's Steve Czaban has really piqued my interest. At issue is Leonsis's annoyance with the negative light in which Czaban and his cohorts consistently paint the NHL (or, in this case, football soccer), versus Czaban's insistence that devoting coverage to hockey and other such "niche" sports is inherently unprofitable. The reason I find the whole thing so fascinating is that, for all the hemming and hawing, both Ted and Czaban are right.

Granted, Ted is more right. He is absolutely right to call out 980 (and any other media outlet) for continuing to dump on hockey the way it has. The original incident that drew his ire, Czaban's disdain for soccer fans in spite of what can only be called a hugely succesful night for the MLS, is especially galling. However, his argument that WTEM should be nicer to the Caps simply because the Caps pay WTEM for the opportunity to broadcast their games is puzzling. Ted is not stupid, and surely he must realize that, while sports radio is first and foremost a business, it is also, to a certain extent, a news outlet, and giving any subject favorable treatment based on their monetary contributions would compromise the station's integrity far more than the consistent ignorance of their on-air talent. Just look at ESPN for an example of what happens when a media outlet is more concerned with hyping its own product than objectively reporting the news.

On the other hand, we have Czaban arguing the point that hockey's scant airtime is purely based on economics, and he's absolutely right. If there were enough hockey fans to support it, the station would cover more hockey. Likewise, if enough people were to stop listening because of a lack of hockey, the powers that be would fix the situation right quick. But neither of these scenarios is ever likely to come to pass in Washington DC. Czaban correctly asserts that DC is not New York, Boston or a slew of other cities that, by sheer size, are guaranteed to have a large enough base of fans to sustain coverage of just about any sport, no matter how niche. The problem with Czaban's retort is that it fails to address Leonsis's main point, that the media is unjustifiably unfair towards hockey or soccer. In fact, Czaban takes several opportunities to perpetuate the injustice right there in his rebuttal, taking numerous swipes at Ted and the Capitals.

Ted is not asking that Sports Talk 980 devote more airtime to the Capitals or hockey. He plainly states that he thinks there are more people reading blogs than listening to the radio anyway. He is arguing not for increased exposure, but a decrease in negative exposure. His point that the derision towards sports like hockey and soccer alienates fans and equals less listeners. It is telling that, in response to a genuinely well-thought out criticque, Czaban felt compelled to respond with little more than name calling while side stepping the heart of the issue altogether.

For more, and probably better, coverage, head here or here or here. Or, more importantly, here.


DCSportsChick said...

Hey! What about here? I wrote about it before any of those other guys!

You're never getting your sunglasses back now!

Biff said...

I apologize if I wasn't clear. The bastard stole my entry title. The content of my entry, however, was not remotely original,and thus virtually unstealable.

I suppose it's not funny if I have to explain it, but I don't see why that should cost me a pair of sunglasses.

Defdude said...

Actually, I think she's complaining about the fact that you didn't link to her in your section on where to find more coverage.

Biff said...

Hmmm... yeah, that makes alot more sense. I don't know what the hell I was talking about.

Anyhows, it's fixed.