Sometimes you make it hard for me to care.

I know I take my share of potshots at the AJ-C, but that being said, unlike many of you, I remain a regular reader.  There should be an honored place in the world for newsprint journalism; I’m realistic enough to know that its reporters have resources and access that a lowly blogger like me doesn’t have but counts on accessing.  So my reaction when I see the paper get embarrassed in completely missing a story like the one about Georgia Tech’s recent NCAA sanctions isn’t satisfaction.  It’s sadness.

But that’s not how I feel after reading one little dung nugget in Mark Bradley’s latest attempt at passive-aggressive observation of the world that helps pay his bills.

… College football has long been a dirty business, but it’s bigger and dirtier than ever. The strange spectacle of recruiting has become a sport unto itself. (Esteemed colleague Michael Carvell offers the best description I’ve heard: “A lot of fans would rather see their team get a big commitment than score a touchdown on Saturday.”)

How arrogant can you get?  This is a readership that the AJ-C courts hard (Carvell is the recruiting beat reporter) and yet is dismissed with contempt by the very people whose job it is to win their loyalty.  I’m certainly not obsessed with recruiting like some are, but I would never characterize those people’s enthusiasm in such an obnoxious way.  Carvell’s comment reads like something you’d see on a Florida message board dissing Georgia fans.

I could be wrong, but dumping on the very people you count on for survival doesn’t strike me as the best long-term marketing plan.

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25 Comments

Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles

25 responses to “Sometimes you make it hard for me to care.

  1. simpl_matter

    Bradley looks for the shooter on the grassy knoll BEHIND the first grassy knoll. Maybe, just maybe, recruiting is such a big deal for (some) fans because there’s no football to watch from Feb-Aug…….addicts don’t go cold turkey when their drug of choice isn’t available, they just take the next-best available high.

  2. Hogbody Spradlin

    Inside many a reporter beats the heart of a sophomore journalism school major, who thinks his poop smells better than everybody else’s because he’s going to tell the story.

  3. Go Dawgs!

    Bradley is one of the reasons the AJC is dying, and I don’t mean that in a snide way. He’s lazy. He’s a hack. There are still great columnists working at newspapers arount the country, but the AJC has a crew of hacks who prefer to sit at the office with their feet up tossing off half-researched reaction pieces to news stories broken by other organizations, and Bradley is their king. I have a journalism degree from UGA’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and I’ve worked in the field, so I feel like I’m qualified to speak on the matter. They were once good writers, but now they’re coasting. It’s hurting their product. The AJC needs to clean house and hire some aggressive, hungry columnists. Perhaps Dave O’Brien (their brilliant Braves beat writer and blogger) needs to educate them on how to cover a beat. Better yet, assign each one of the hacks to a beat and revoke their access to the home office. Force them to actually go out and learn what they’re talking about.

    And, just so we’re clear, Mark, I feel certain that your buddy Carvell was speaking in jest when he said that college football fans would rather score a big commitment than a touchdown. He knows that’s not true, and so do you. Perhaps he looks down his nose (as you do) at the college football fans who are the exclusive reason he has a job, but I feel certain that you aren’t doing him any favors by outing him as a snob of your ilk. It just so happens that we here in the south love college football in a way that other regions of the country can’t match. The 12 times a year (or up to 14 if it’s a special year) that we get to see our team play aren’t enough. So yes, once the season is over we do turn our attention to recruiting and spring ball and the Fulmer Cup and anything else that can feed our hunger for college football. And perhaps that’s why Bradley and Carvell and any other like-minded writers look down their nose at us. While their peers in other markets can just shift their attention to scribbling the low-hanging fruit stories about the pro football team and then the pro hoops team and then the college hoops team and then the pro baseball team until the first snap of the next season, college writers here have to WORK to earn their money. They have to actually dig around for subject matter to write during the offseason, and it’s tough. Recruiting is a tough beat. Offseason stories are a hard beat. There are only so many top ten lists or hot seats a columnist can invent with their feet up before they actually have to leave the office and do work. Lazy hacks like Mark Bradley HATE that stuff.

    • D.N. Nation

      “but the AJC has a crew of hacks who prefer to sit at the office with their feet up tossing off half-researched reaction pieces to news stories broken by other organizations, and Bradley is their king.”

      I’m willing to bet that Bradley hasn’t been to the AJC’s office once since they moved it to Dunwoody.

    • NRBQ

      Carvell didn’t print that comment, Bradley did.

      To your point, Carvell has a tough beat, and he probably works harder than any of his colleagues.

      I’ll admit a little bias, as he briefly wrote for me when I was editor of my schools’ paper, but I think he does a commendable job of catering to recruiting fanatics.

    • Cojones

      I’ll read what Socrates writes anytime over what I read in the AJC. He is informed and passionate, two good characteristics needed by any writer on any subject. And I don’t really like reading recruiting blogs, but I’ll read his factual unpretentious presentations.

  4. Bulldog Joe

    These days, most sports fans in the Atlanta area are not pulling for Georgia.

    That is a fact. The AJC knows this.

    • Scott W.

      This a thousand times, but that isn’t germaine to this post.

      • Bulldog Joe

        Sure it is.

        The AJC isn’t looking for subscriptions like they used to do. They are looking for clicks.

        Look at the number of user comments on the blogs on a trolling article about the UGA football program. Then look at the number of comments articles on the other southeastern pro and college teams.

        There is no comparison. The UGA trolling articles easily draw five times as many comments (and clicks) from those piling on.

        The number of comments and clicks also easily outnumber those on the independent blogs.

        The formula works very well for the AJC.

    • No One Knows You're a Dawg

      That’s simply not true. Jeff Schultz himself has said that the only two things Atlanta sports fans care about are Georgia football and whichever other team is having a decent season.

      • Scott W.

        Well if Schultz said it, it must be true. As was said above Dave O’brien is the only writer on staff worth a damn.

      • Keese

        I would help Jeff Schultz pack his bags and pay for his plane flight back home

    • W Cobb Dawg

      “…most sports fans in the Atlanta area are not pulling for Georgia.”

      In west Cobb, every dang high school kid I run into wants to be accepted to UGA – boys and girls. They have to “settle” for bama, aub, scu, etc. when not accepted. They do text all the time, so I don’t know if they’re heavy into sports, and I don’t know what others consider the ‘Atlanta area’. But I can confidently say UGA is an easy #1 in our neck of the burbs. Plus, the AJC isn’t sold in a lot of stores around here, either.

  5. Another Grady grad here. It’s a little disingenuous to accuse reporters of poor marketing, since that’s hardly their specialty. And I agree with the above commenter that Carvell’s comment should have been taken in jest, but Bradley is too much of a committed troll at this stage of his career to acknowledge pesky things like nuance and context.

    The shame of what’s happening in newspapers is that trolling is a common notion for reader engagement. Trolling gets you links and comments and that drives ad rates. The flipside is that they’ve so degraded the product that the possibility of a paywall is completely off the table, as who would pay for this dreck? And what’s really unfortunate is that what draws the most national readership for the AJC (and therefore the section they could possibly charge for) is the sports section, and that’s the part they’re pissing all over.

    Unfortunately, the upper levels at most newspapers are full of pre-Internet managers, editors, columnists, etc., and the necessary reinvention will require those folks to die off, retire, get laid off or fired.

    One of the reasons I root so hard for good bloggers like you, Orson Swindle, Brian at MGoBlog and others is that every win for you guys is another push towards the door for “professional” opinionators like Bradley, Bianchi, etc. The beat writers like Emerson still do the Lord’s work and can’t be duplicated. But columnists are being outdone all over the web for free. And for newspapers to learn the hard lessons and adapt, that point needs to keep getting hammered home.

    • No One Knows You're a Dawg

      Good post. Unfortunately, the Finebaum model has taken over sports commentary at places like the AJC. The MSM should try to be differentiating themselves from bomb-throwing trolls, because ultimately they can’t compete with it.

      • No One Knows You're a Dawg

        Clarification: Finebaum-esque types are the bomb throwing trolls, not the bloggers you cite.

    • Cojones

      World News is looking for a few good reporters. Fox News is still looking for the first one.

    • Keese

      Since David Hale left, Gentry Estes is the only beat reporter I can point to for doing a great job and working extremely hard at their job

  6. H-Town Dawg

    The quote from Carvell was beyond ridiculous. Why would someone even attempt to portray commitments vs. touchdowns as an either/or? I love Dawg touchdowns in the fall and when I can’t get any touchdowns after the season I also love commitments from blue chip recruits. Is that concept so difficult for Carvell to understand? Ok, I get that he was trying to make a point about the enthusiasm for the “recruiting game” but for someone who makes their living as a writer…FAIL.

  7. Irishdawg

    Journalism is a profession that now seems to invest it’s practitioners with more arrogance than almost any other, and that includes politics or flying fighter planes. Reporters have deemed themselves as being members of the new priesthood, so they consider themselves experts on everything, from sports to counterinsurgency, despite doing the bare minimum to research any of them. The AJC isn’t the only paper staffed by lazy, hack writers, and it’s why print journalism is dying out. And I say that as someone who used to really enjoy reading a newspaper and doesn’t want to see it become obsolete.

    • Hogbody Spradlin

      You can trace the priesthood thing that back to Sullivan vs. New York Times, a 1964 US Supreme Court case that established the rule that a journalist must be culpable of actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth, to be liable in libel or slander to a public figure. With a little hyperbole to summarize, the majority in that case saw the first amendment in terms of a slightly inebriated barroom argument; the minority saw it in terms of a polite debate.

      On the one hand, the first amendment is essential, and I feel comfortable with good journalists rooting out things. On the other hand, the Bill of Rights doesn’t give freedom of the press any more importance than other rights enumerated there, and we seem to get along fine with lots of gun regulations, lots of uncompensated takings that aren’t even for public use, and volumes and volumes of political speech (campaign finance) regulations.

      I can’t see where the republic would come crashing down if we make journalists compensate for the damage they do to the same extent as other tortfeasors. Media outlets can buy liability insurance the same as everybody else. Journalists are human too, and a certain arrogance and hubris has grown up the past few decades, around the realization that it’s damn near impossible to hold journalists responsible for their mistakes.

      The Wilford Brimley scene in Absence of Malice is quite satisfying on these issues.

  8. The other Doug

    I thought it was very telling when David Hale left the small market paper for a better job at a big market paper in Philly. The AJC wasn’t interested in a beat writer like Hale.

    • Go Dawgs!

      And Hale’s the best beat writer I’ve ever read on any sports beat. AJC has let several talented individuals get away from either their own paper or their market over the years. In my opinion, they’re worse off for not finding a way to lure Hale from the ABH, and they’re worse off for not finding a way to keep Schlabach on the staff. Instead, they pay to keep Bradley on, year after unending year.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        The AJC has had a bad sports department for years and it’s getting worse. I don’t read it any more and most of my friends don’t either.