Beat reporters do not do opinion, but people want them to pontificate for some reason.
It’s as if everyone wants the UGA beat reporters to transform into CNN’s Jim Acosta. It is a problem that exists on the recruiting media sites and with professional journalists with the local newspapers. The desperation for reporters to take a stance on coaches’ status and report more favorably toward UGA as if the publications are supposed to be propaganda and promotional tools is asking for a sort of journalism that is destructive.
Many of the same individuals complaining about the objectivity bemoan the lack of it in corporate media. They rail against ESPN for taking on social and political issues. They call CNN the “Clinton News Network” or “Communist News Network”. Local sports beat coverage may be one of the last bastions of bias-free news out there. Why ruin this?
Being granted access comes with compromise.
Beat reporters’ livelihoods and careers are built on access, they have to toe a line. Asking for them to opine is putting their careers at risk. Ever listen the questions Mark Fox gets in a post-game press conference? They are all rather safe questions, nothing ever probing. There’s a reason, once you’re cut off – you’re cut off. The threat of losing access to Football exist and that could sink a newspaper in the State of Georgia. Fox was looking to exclude a reporter for even asking a question about not letting losses get to the team’s mental state. He realized once it was the Red & Black, he really had no choice but to let it slide. If it was Jason Butt from the Macon Telegraph who asked that question, he’d be toast.
Advice to the reporter for the Red & Black who asked the question: Get a position post-graduation that is out of the State of Georgia and get on the professional sports beat if you want to ask any sort of a “touchy” or mildly challenging question to a Head Coach. UGA like other college institutions is a bit less “professional” and far more personal about the way they do business. Head Coaches in professional sports are less ingrained in the individual organizations than in college sports. The most extreme example is actually UGA.
When journalists opine and show their biases, it becomes tougher to trust the reporting. A journalist who comes out with a position on a particular topic or advocates for the removal of a Head Coach, instantly loses credibility and becomes more-or-less a commentator. Journalists seek truth and ask the tough questions in an objective fashion, it is not activism – it is the basis of understanding what is really going on and giving the readers/viewers/listeners the opportunity to make judgments for themselves.
The media does not shape decision making in Butts-Mehre. It does not matter what struggling news outlet it may be, they do not hold sway with those in charge of making the decisions. However, the State of Georgia’s Republican Party strangely does when examining the campaign contributions, legislative efforts and appointments. Follow the money, the industries and what the lobbyists, power players and aspiring power players try to get passed to understand how the power players remain powerful. It has already been good enough to have been published in a book, putting it all into a television series like The Wire would make it even easier to consume and understand.
Jason Butt, Seth Emerson, Anthony Dasher and Marc Weiszer are really the last hold-outs keeping true to journalistic standards among the professional ranks on the UGA beat.
Everyone else is a digital producer with much more leeway because they do not have to do the hard work of getting sound bytes and needing access to deliver stories on the coaches, student-athletes and administrators. Asking journalists to cross that line puts everything at risk. Nobody wants the only news to come out of UGA Athletics to be press releases and propagandized interviews that are made in-house. They would have no credibility in their communications. Journalists are not pundits.
Objective journalism is objective, it is not news that you agree with or would be considered favorable news 100% of the time. Otherwise, there’s plenty of commentary and propaganda for you to consume. Think before you pester and appreciate the work that they put in as they may be the last of what they do.
An important caveat:
This publication is filled with commentary and analysis, it is definitely not journalism. Sources are protected just like the way journalists protect their sources and there is even some form of reporting, but there’s no journalism here. There’s very little for aspiring journalists at Grady College to learn or glean from this site from a professional sense. Don’t try this at home, kids.