Saturday, March 14, 2009

Does This Story Make Me Look Fat?

The other day, I was listening to Dan Patrick’s podcast and he was talking about breaking some exclusive news story that LeBron James was going to be on an “Entourage” episode with Tom Brady. I thought that it was mildly interesting, but since it’s not uncommon for athletes to have cameo appearances in TV shows or movies I didn’t think much of it. Then he went on a sort of tongue-in-cheek farcical tangent, asking if anyone had called about his breaking news, or as he calls it, “spraining news.” As if being the first to say something meant more than the actual event itself (e.g. LeBron appearing on “Entourage”). That got me thinking, does it really matter to anyone outside of the media industry who breaks the news? Because once the story, whatever the story may be, is “out” then all news outlets will cover it and cover it ad naseum. I understand that information guys (news, sports, entertainment or otherwise) need to constantly be searching for fresh stories and breaking news in order to prove their worth to continually to keep their network, newspaper (crossing self, pouring out liquor), or website relevant. But to the consumers of that information, whoever “broke” the story couldn’t be more irrelevant. Who cares?

In a way, the media is analogous to women. What I mean by that is in my years knowing women and being married for awhile now, it’s clear that when women get dressed up and want to look their best, they are not doing so for their husband, boyfriend, date etc. They are dressing up for other women. Sure, their husband, boyfriend, date etc. think that they look good (that is if they do in fact look good, as we know, that’s not always the case), but that’s a byproduct. The intent is to secure the “those shoes are so cute” comment from other women. This will never change. Women want to look good for self-esteem purposes, but the overriding motivation is that they want to look good for other women.

The media and specific media members want to look good for other media members. They want to be known as the reporter that got the scoop on whatever story is big that day, such as Selena Roberts breaking the Alex Rodriguez uses steroids story. It looks good for that reporter to land that story. Some non-media people may remember who broke the story, but more likely than not the story is the story, not the person who broke the story. The only people who care about the “who” are those in the media, because we, as a reading, watching, and listening public only care about the information, not who is providing it.

As an aside, I think that the Alex Rodriguez situation is an honest-to-goodness story, worthy of all of the frothiness that it has caused. I do not think that Terrell Owens getting cut by Dallas and subsequently being signed by Buffalo is worthy of breaking news story. The big difference between the two is that the Rodriguez story may never have seen the light of day except for Roberts doing good investigative work. Time could have gone on and no one would have found out unless she unearthed the information. That is not the same thing as the Terrell Owens situation. As time winded down toward the start of the NFL season, we all would have found out if Terrell Owens was going to be with Dallas or be cut; Dallas would eventually let us know. There was no need for reporters to keep asking Jerry Jones the same question over and f’ing over again. Time solves this question. Same goes for the Buffalo angle. Time will tell us if he gets picked up by someone and when. There is no need to have a vigil. There is no need to “break” this story because Buffalo, like Dallas, would have announced it.

I understand that Terrell Owens is an intriguing story to some. He’s a talented player who is so unabashedly starved for attention and will constantly seek the limelight. I’m sure he wants to be remembered as a great player, and he will be, but he’ll always have his detractors because his bravado detracts from the actual plays he makes on the field. But I honestly wonder if he’s really as interesting as major media outlets make him out to be. Would we care if they didn’t report everything that he does? Do they carry this news because we demand it, or do we watch, read, listen to it because it’s pushed to us? There are 1,696 players on the 53-man roster of NFL teams. The NFL draft is around the corner. It’s amazing to me that one person can garner so much airtime without doing much to deserve it. If he retired tomorrow, who would really care? Well, I guess the good people of Buffalo would, but outside of that frozen hamlet, I really doubt that he’d be missed. Luckily for me and others like me, he’s nearing the end of his career and he’ll fade away very soon. Unless, of course, some network decides to follow him around with a camera on a show called “T & A with T.O.!” which stands for “time and access” and not the other, more intriguing usage of T &A, although I’d assume that would be part of the show as well. We’d get to see T.O. walking around L.A. getting into adventures and touching people’s lives, kind of like what Jules wanted to do. Or, more likely, we’d see him travel around the city with a pack of sycophantic types feeding him peeled grapes and telling him how hot he is.

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