The right kind of sports coverage | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The right kind of sports coverage

Posted By on Wed, Aug 18, 2010 at 6:54 AM

I noticed this morning that the Democrat-Gazette continues to deem the fired radio reporter in Fayetteville unworthy of sports news coverage. Wally Hall did columnize that this was a matter between talk show co-host Renee Gork and her former employer. The University of Arkansas had NOTHING, emphasize NOTHING, to do with it.

Wally somehow omitted the UA's admission that it had indeed suggested Gork stay away from practice for a time. This made it difficult to do her job. Her offense was wearing a Florida Gators cap to a Saturday scrimmage. Hog Nation rose in fury over the insult, including with threats of advertiser boycotts to the station, devoted solely to Hog worship. It is not at all surprising that the station sent her packing. (Hog PR man Kevin Trainor has refused to answer my questions about which media relations staff member sent the warning to Gork and whether the staff member acted independently or at the suggestion of another UA official.)

The reason Gork is a story is that the event is about far more than a cap and one woman's job. It's about the sports industrial complex and how much independence is expected of those media given the privilege of intimate access to that industry. The Hogs essentially run a licensing operation for press credentials. As a result, even the most powerful among the media (and that number is small), are very careful, witness Wally's alibi today for the UA. Not from them will you see the devotion to Hog vehicle use — think Razorback Foundation jet and who uses it and why and at what cost — that is devoted to, say, the land commissioner's infamous pickup.

I'm reminded of the subject again by a Carroll County News report on the Eureka Springs School Board. Worshipful coverage is an expectation not only in Hogdom.

The Eureka Springs School Board will once again consider KESA Radio's request for an exclusive broadcast contract at its upcoming meeting Thursday. Larry Hestand of KESA Radio submitted a proposal in early summer to broadcast high school sports, mainly basketball.

He asked for exclusive use of a landline telephone jack and a table and two chairs.

He also asked that no other radio station be allowed to broadcast Eureka games or sell sponsorships.

In exchange, he promised not to broadcast anything critical of officials or announcers, no controversial subjects or anything about injuries "which could cause anxiety on the part of the listening audience."

UPDATE: CBS national columnist Gregg Doyel jabs the Hogs. Headline:
"Arkansas fans sink to another low over a stupid hat"

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