The Upfront Page: Sports journalists aren't boosters

Tennessee's J.P. Prince has the ball bounced off his head by Kentucky's Eric Bledsoe. The Vols lost to Kentucky 73-62.

Ed Reinke/Associated Press

Tennessee's J.P. Prince has the ball bounced off his head by Kentucky's Eric Bledsoe. The Vols lost to Kentucky 73-62.

— A letter writer complained about a photo in Sunday's paper showing a Kentucky player bouncing the basketball off the head of the Vols' J.P. Prince:

"Of all the pictures taken that night, you can't find another more appealing picture of the game? SHAME ON YOU! Why would anyone purposely embarrass a player and the team by being so insensitive? Did you, for one moment, even think about how this would impact J.P., the team, the coaches, the college, and all the supporters....of which you should be??? ... Editors, edit with power and dignity. We depend on you to not let this kind of disgrace fall on our Knoxville News Sentinel."

Continue reading at Editor Jack McElroy's blog, The Upfront Page.

Continue

Get Copyright Permissions © 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 28

NoSirRee writes:

Face it, you got called out for putting a ridiculous picture in the paper. If you have to defend the fact that you are not biased against the Vols, it just proves you are. So, go shove it

osbymartin#581730 writes:

It is yet another example of the pathetic writing and coverage of UT sports. There were many other ways that they could have shown the UK "whipping" as they called it. How about a photo of a UK dunk or one of Bledsoe's threes. You know something that ACTUALLY determined the outcome of the game!!! No need to show the ball thrown off a young man's face. The editor's statement was even more pathetic than the photo itself!!!

ChattaVol1 writes:

Photo is NOT engaging or objective. KNS blew another one!

chrisw2967 writes:

We all know kns are not boosters and they are not journalists either.I wonder what online courses a man has to take to get a fake degree in journalism ? Maybe Hooker and company will tell us how they got theirs.

darbhoo writes:

KNS spends an inordinate amount of space on Tennessee Vols, agreed. BUT UT encompasses the major sports news in this area, so what else would the KNS be covering?

Journalists can be objective without being predatory, and many articles by the KNS emphasize the negative rather than "fair and balanced" aspects. Many of the "good" articles on this website are actually written by newspapers outside of Knoxville, but still in the state. Even the Atlanta news articles cut and pasted or linked to govolsxtra.com give interesting and informative news we like to read.

If the KNS wonders why Coach Dooley is not forthcoming with updates, perhaps they should consider how the updates are twisted in the articles they spawn. Maybe UT should review the Press Passes, access to the press boxes and the other liberties they offer the "professional" staff at the KNS. Sports reporting might actually be interesting and focused on what the "fans and boosters" pay to read.

GO VOLS.

prideofthesouthland writes:

Too bad there is not an alternative sports source.

rusty_shackleford writes:

Boosterism is one thing. Yellow Journalism is another. Over the past three years, it seems the KNS has been on a campaign to stir the pot through the firing of Fulmer and the sham that is the Kiffin "era." It becomes especially apparent when editors write "news" articles and beat reporters editorialize.

HtownVol writes:

Well, I am watching the game and BP is sucking it up. We heated up on Offense and BP immediatly put his son in and we have 2 points in about 5 minutes. He has played about 7 minutes already. Im tired of this phooey. BP throws in the towel early.

HtownVol writes:

This is so embarressing. Steven Pearl has played the final 8 minutes of the 1st half.

Bruce Pearl is giving up this game and I dont understand.

CoverOrange writes:

The article says they are "supporters" which I take to mean they focus on the Vol side of all games and give facts and opinions, good and bad on the Vols. If you think they focus on the negative about the Vols, read any newspaper, heck, read the posts on most any article and most of it is negative. Bad news sells! And readers complain! Not being boosters means they don't wear orange tints. Are their opinions off the mark? Just as often as the opinions of the posters.

The picture of JP was unique. There wasn't a winning shot to be used instead. Some readers should try to be a little more objective.

virginiavolfan writes:

I see nothing wrong with the picture. I would like to see more controversial articles in the paper that would gain it publicity. How about an article comparing Stephen Pearl and Kenny Hall and why Pearl gets more minutes than Hall.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

The article says they are "supporters" which I take to mean they focus on the Vol side of all games and give facts and opinions, good and bad on the Vols. If you think they focus on the negative about the Vols, read any newspaper, heck, read the posts on most any article and most of it is negative. Bad news sells! And readers complain! Not being boosters means they don't wear orange tints. Are their opinions off the mark? Just as often as the opinions of the posters.

The picture of JP was unique. There wasn't a winning shot to be used instead. Some readers should try to be a little more objective.

actually, the burden of objectivity falls on the journalist...

Look, who knows why this picture was selected? My guess is out of all the pics taken that night, just a hunch here, but I'm willing to bet there could have been a better photo taken.

I don't know if there are any aspiring journalists on the blog, but it seems to me to be an easy job, because there really isn't any accountability. Journalists know way more about the subjects of their work than anyone knows about them. As long as a paper has a certain agenda, and the willingly cooperative journalist continues to churn out the "party line", nothing's going to happen.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to virginiavolfan:

I see nothing wrong with the picture. I would like to see more controversial articles in the paper that would gain it publicity. How about an article comparing Stephen Pearl and Kenny Hall and why Pearl gets more minutes than Hall.

I don't know, junior seemed to do all right today.

Really, SP hasn't seen any floor time until this year. I personally think he's coming along fine. I saw him approach the rim with more and more confidence, and he plays really good defense, so really, give the guy a break.

volcrazy333 writes:

i dont see why poeople care about the picture.... tennessee sucked the last 10 minutes.... ha why does it matter what picture is put in the paper?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid:

I don't know, junior seemed to do all right today.

Really, SP hasn't seen any floor time until this year. I personally think he's coming along fine. I saw him approach the rim with more and more confidence, and he plays really good defense, so really, give the guy a break.

You are on here enough to know that there are certain fans who have already made up their minds that Steven can't play, that CBP is a fool for playing him, and that the only thing that counts in being a valuable team player is scoring points, hopefully in a "beautiful" manner. They don't actually know enough about the game to be convinced otherwise but of course they can't possibly admit THAT! They know what they know and that's all that they know and nothing can change that.

vut56#231073 writes:

in response to rusty_shackleford:

Boosterism is one thing. Yellow Journalism is another. Over the past three years, it seems the KNS has been on a campaign to stir the pot through the firing of Fulmer and the sham that is the Kiffin "era." It becomes especially apparent when editors write "news" articles and beat reporters editorialize.

This post just says my bit for me. KNS, so often, tries to be funny, but is not; editorializes when facts are called for and when a valid opinion is called for...we are left wanting. Many want everybody to be "homers" but just as many more can take objective points of view...or criticism...when called for. All this mixed together, however, and presented with average or poor construction, just leads to frustration and, yes, venting by readers. We deserve better (and the news is often more positive than the presentation we get).

CoverOrange writes:

in response to usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid:

actually, the burden of objectivity falls on the journalist...

Look, who knows why this picture was selected? My guess is out of all the pics taken that night, just a hunch here, but I'm willing to bet there could have been a better photo taken.

I don't know if there are any aspiring journalists on the blog, but it seems to me to be an easy job, because there really isn't any accountability. Journalists know way more about the subjects of their work than anyone knows about them. As long as a paper has a certain agenda, and the willingly cooperative journalist continues to churn out the "party line", nothing's going to happen.

Agreed, but the burden of objectivity is not either/or. It wouldn't hurt the rabid fan to take a step back and see the non-rabid fan's viewpoint occasionally just as a sanity check. If you are the editor and are trying to select an image that is eye-catching and epitomizes the game for Ten-Buck-Two State Tech what pic would you select?

Why would a paper have an agenda about college sports? Global warming, yeah, but a game? The agenda is to sell newspapers.

FWBVol writes:

Several years ago I was the sports editor, and then the photo editor, at the UT Daily Beacon. When covering games for the Beacon we were told not to wear anything orange or with Tennessee logos.

I've been in the sports writing business for a lot of years now, and, on occasion have had the opportunity to cover both Tennessee and my high school alma mater. I check my loyalty to "my teams" at the gate when I covering a game.

Sports writers, contrary to popular belief, are humans. We do develop relationships with the athletes we cover through the course of their high school or college careers. We also make the occasional grammar mistake and have misspelled words from time-to-time.

And every time we write a story we know that even if we are perfect, which we never are, someone will find fault with what we wrote.

I dare say there aren't too many people that would like to see their work put on display every day for the public to scrutinize.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I do it for the love of the job, the relationships I build and the opportunity to help kids and their families something they can put in a scrapbook that will last lon after I'm gone.

rockytopatl writes:

in response to usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid:

actually, the burden of objectivity falls on the journalist...

Look, who knows why this picture was selected? My guess is out of all the pics taken that night, just a hunch here, but I'm willing to bet there could have been a better photo taken.

I don't know if there are any aspiring journalists on the blog, but it seems to me to be an easy job, because there really isn't any accountability. Journalists know way more about the subjects of their work than anyone knows about them. As long as a paper has a certain agenda, and the willingly cooperative journalist continues to churn out the "party line", nothing's going to happen.

OK, I'll bite. I didn't just aspire. I was a professional journalist for 30 years.

The picture was published because it was obviously the best one that was shot that night. It is unique and it reflected the frustration of the Vols' tough loss. It told a story. I would have picked it for publication myself. It isn't the paper's role to discard a picture that might embarrass Prince. It's their job to show what happened with the best picture their shooters got.

As for the editor's blog, I was disappointed in some of the language he used. It was a terrible choice of words to say the paper is a "supporter" of UT athletics. That's almost as bad as admitting to being a booster, which he denies. The newspaper is supposed to be objective, critical when needed, give praise when praise is due. I agree with one poster who said beat reporters shouldn't be writing opinion pieces. But editors and columnists can and should editoralize and be tough when they feel it is warranted. That is an important part of journalism.

The people who accuse the paper of "having an agenda" want a UT house organ. Read the UT website if you want that. Or fan blogs. It is good for UT sports to have a newspaper that goes after them when criticism is due.

All this said, the KNS has some young reporters who aren't the best in what they do. They miss stories, they make mistakes, they are a bit slow to react to and turn breaking news. But Knoxville isn't a major media destination and that's what you get in a smaller market. UT fans should be happy that the newspaper devotes the resources it does to UT sports and provides a FREE forum in which fans are encouraged to contribute. A lot of cities -- even bigger markets -- don't have that.

Is journalism an "easy" job? Hardly. It doesn't pay well and all your mistakes are displayed for the world to see if your editor misses them. The hours are crappy and somebody on this site is going to blast them no matter what they write. But most of us who chose the profession love it anyway.

MiserableFloridaVol writes:

The picture is fine. Go out and beat KY next weekend and leave this nonsense alone. Who cares.

vol88 writes:

It's a great sports photo. Love the Vols, Love JP, but it was a great sports photo. Quit whining about the KNS and go to utsports.com if all you want is homer stuff.

murrayvol writes:

in response to marc_ash#231781:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your reservoir of appropriate links is endless.

murrayvol writes:

in response to FWBVol:

Several years ago I was the sports editor, and then the photo editor, at the UT Daily Beacon. When covering games for the Beacon we were told not to wear anything orange or with Tennessee logos.

I've been in the sports writing business for a lot of years now, and, on occasion have had the opportunity to cover both Tennessee and my high school alma mater. I check my loyalty to "my teams" at the gate when I covering a game.

Sports writers, contrary to popular belief, are humans. We do develop relationships with the athletes we cover through the course of their high school or college careers. We also make the occasional grammar mistake and have misspelled words from time-to-time.

And every time we write a story we know that even if we are perfect, which we never are, someone will find fault with what we wrote.

I dare say there aren't too many people that would like to see their work put on display every day for the public to scrutinize.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I do it for the love of the job, the relationships I build and the opportunity to help kids and their families something they can put in a scrapbook that will last lon after I'm gone.

Excellent!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

The picture was posted simply to get roiling started.

And it succeeded.

johnlg00 writes:

Several good posts on here from professional journalists. I would say only that there seems to be a persistent belief among the powers-that-be in journalism today that objectivity MEANS finding the negative in any story. I don't think that is the case for those who have spent decades in or around the profession, but I do think that is how many in the younger generation look at it. If they can't find a negative angle, that only means they aren't looking hard enough. If they say anything positive, they are surrendering that "objectivity". This is not, of course, universal, and I would even say that it is mostly not deliberate, but it does seem to be a tacit default position among many in that trade.

pofallon writes:

Sports writers confuse there work with investigative reporters. We're not talking about Bill Clinton sleeping with an intern here. Readers of the KNS are interested in how their team did. Their team! As supporters of UT sports, readers are probably not interested in hearing a negative slant on their program. Why do KNS writers insist on presenting a product which does not meet their customers needs? In any other business, this would be a recipe for failure. If KNS wants respect for the quality of their writing, try telling a better story.

tan007 writes:

in response to HtownVol:

Well, I am watching the game and BP is sucking it up. We heated up on Offense and BP immediatly put his son in and we have 2 points in about 5 minutes. He has played about 7 minutes already. Im tired of this phooey. BP throws in the towel early.

Steven Pearl has contributed greatly this year & improved every game. I hope he will get more respect than this from now on. Watch him closely down under the basket, he truly takes a beating & handles it like a warrior.

kti5783 writes:

If that picture impacts our team, we have bigger problems.
This is sports. Do you think that when they complile game footage they take out the parts where we get dunked on, or have one of our shots blocked? No. Your team mates give you a hard time about it until it's the next guys turn.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features