No detailed elaboration needed. Let’s just dive right in to the top ten Chicago sports media stories of 2013. Click on the title where highlighted for more elaboration each story
The premier show college football pregame show came to Evanston. This was both a national and local story
8. Chicago Sun-Times Bears writer Sean Jensen mysteriously disappears from the newspaper
While attending NFL on CBS Media Day I had exclusive with Nantz. And he told me this heart-warming tale of how our beloved March Madness theme, “a tradition unlike any other,” was almost extinguished. And how he saved it.
Phil Rogers leaves for MLB.com, Vaughn McClure leaves for ESPN Atlanta, Shannon Ryan moves from Illini to NIU, Paul Sullivan leaves Cubs to move into Rogers’ style Enterprise role, Mark Gonzalez moves from White Sox to Cubs and the Tribune hires Rich Campbell and Dan Wiederer for Bears.
I broke this story first, a day before everyone else, just like the Susannah Collins story. It’s more national than local, but SNF is the #1 rated show on television; therefore it’s local to everyone. “All politics is local.” The Sunday night game, which Carrie signs us into every week, is the top rated show of all every week. Not just sports, but any television program. It’s become what Monday Night was in the ’80s and ’90s.
Well, we all saw this one coming. Although Gill is still on NBA TV. No one watches that channel, but he is on the air.
This was by far the second biggest Chicago sports media story of the year. Only this one and the next one originated locally and became national. After all the details of Gill v. Doyle came out, it was clear that this story was exactly like Johnny Manziel vs. the NCAA vs. the creepy adult autograph seekers: there’s no one to root for. There’s no side in this worth taking and everybody lost.
This was #1 with a bullet. It dominated page views on multiple publications for days afterward. The story had a clear cut protagonist, a clear cut antagonist and a couple elements of sex. And as we all know, sex sells. It happened during the postseason run for a championship entry. More importantly, this was about big business behaving badly. And as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in “This Side of Paradise,” “the only kind of business people are interested in reading about is crooked business.” Before this story, it wasn’t common knowledge that CSN Chicago is 80% owned by the White Sox, Cubs, Bulls and Blackhawks. (NBC owns the remainder) And that the teams have direct editorial control over the content produced. A lot of people still don’t know that. Yes, people in the media industry know this, but not the common fan.
The bigger takeaway from this episode, well beyond Susannah, Rocky, CSN and the Hawks is this:
Since these sports networks owned by teams or leagues (NESN, Big Ten Network, NFL Network, CSN, MLB Network, NBA TV, NHL Network etc.) aren’t legitimate news networks, then how do we classify them? What do we call them? Their on-air talent are clearly not reporters or journalists. So how can we make that difference distinct and clear to the fans and media consumers?
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and RSS Catch him Tuesdays talking Illini and Northwestern for KOZN 1620 The Zone, Fridays talking Chicago Bears for WAOR 95.7 The Fan
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