GQ Reveals Local ESPN Sites To Be Scrappy, Shoestring Operations

ESPN New York went live yesterday, and upon first glance it looks like the worldwide leader of sports has a legion of writers focused on covering every aspect of the New York sports scene. The sheer amount of content – breaking news, columns, videos – is staggering for a “local” site, and appears to be hellbent on making the sports section of the New York Times obsolete.

But according to a GQ.com profile on ESPN’s burgeoning plans for local sports, this image is only partly accurate.

The piece, written by Gabriel Sherman, contends that the new local sites offered by ESPN – New York, Boston, Dallas, LA, and Chicago – are pretty modest operations:

Each site is staffed by a half-dozen or so reporters and editors to cover the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, the MLS, and high school sports. It’s a shoestring effort, given that sports desks at some of their newspaper competitors have staffs ten times that size, even after layoffs.

And although the new local sites can pull content from ESPN.com’s slew of writers and treasure trove of videos, the local outfits still have to battle for respect:

It’s an odd position for ESPN to be cast as an underdog when in every other medium it’s been dominant for years. When the Cowboys opened their new stadium this season, the press office assigned Watkins and MacMahon terrible seats in the press box, shunting them off next to The Gilmer Mirror and KTXS News 12 out of Abilene, Texas. (“We got fucked,” MacMahon griped.)

Still, ESPN’s ragtag group of local reporters and bloggers will get no respect from grizzled New York Post vet Phil Mushnick. On sports journalism, and ESPN’s role in its perceived decline:

“Sports journalism is dead. The games have become props; the sports have become props. I think at the start of every day, ESPN’s motives are pure, but before it’s put on the air, on the Web, or in the magazine, it’s all been ESPN-ized: It’s there to self-promote, cross-promote. I’m frightened for whistle-blowers. It’ll be a good time for bad guys when newspapers go down.”

And although, as the article notes, ESPN didn’t kill print journalism (it’s not dead yet, is it? How do we know when this is official?), its local operations are being perceived as their latest attempt to monopolize sports news. ESPN contends that the local sites are just an evolutionary tactic in cross branding, a natural next step in achieving “synergy” across their various media platforms.

Regardless, it’s not too crazy to picture a future where ESPN is the only game in town.


Bill Maher Thanks “Tea Baggers” For Passing Of Health Care Bill

Bill Maher, not really known for being the most moderate of liberals, spoke with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show about the passing of the health reform bill. Leno should have known what he was getting himself into when Maher started off his reply with “Dems win!” and then went on to thank the entire Tea Party (which he called “tea baggers”) for being so crazy that America decided to go with “the calm Black man.” Except that “America” didn’t vote on the health care bill, Congress did. So…

Maher continued:

Sarah Palin screaming about death panels…you know Sarah? If we were killing off useless people, you’d be the first to know.”

Well, good. As long as Maher continues making liberals look as vindictive and angry as some on the right have been accused of, Leno can continue being the exact opposite of David Letterman, who most recently featured calm, educated tea party activist Pam Stout.


Erykah Badu’s Politically-Charged “Window Seat” Taken Off Of YouTube


Singer/songwriter Erykah Badu has come under fire recently for her latest music video “Window Seat,” which shows the African-American songstress stripping down around the site of JFK’s assassination. Along with being charged by the Dallas police for a misdemeanor in public nudity, “Window Seat” has also been pulled off of YouTube, despite the fact that all the R-rated portions were blurred out in the video. We can understand the legality of charging Badu (which our sister site Gossip Cop reported on yesterday): after all, there were public complaints that she exposed herself to children during the taping of the video, but why is YouTube taking such a hard stance on one of the more innocuous displays of nakedness on their site?

One can’t help but be reminded of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” controversy several weeks ago, where CNN reported that MTV had pulled the video from its channel due to its graphic nature (though that rumor was later revealed to be false), and yet that video remained on Youtube, and was far more sexual than the statement Badu was making with her “Window Seat” politics.

Badu claimed that the video – which was all done in one take – represented the power of “group think” and as of Thursday said on her Twitter that no one has pressed charges. So far, YouTube has refused to comment on why it has pulled even the censored version of the video.


Alan Grayson Says Turning Away Obama Supporters Is Basically Playing Race Card

Dr. Jack Cassells is a Florida urologist who has put signs up outside his office urging patients who support Obama to go seek treatment elsewhere. “Changes to your health care begin right now,” one sign reads. Florida Dem. Congressman Alan Grayson has never been one to shy away from controversy, and last night he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that since many Obama supporters in his district are African-American, this was akin to violating the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm,” regardless of a person’s race. We see Grayson’s point, but saying that the majority of Obama supporters are African-American may actually be just as racist as what he’s alleging Cassells of.


“Bondage” And More: Top Ten Jokes About Michael Steele And The RNC This Week

This week, Michael Steele and the Republican National Committee showed the world that they weren’t a party of lame, old men. Late night hosts (and liberal newscasters) had a lot of material – from “bondage-themed nightclubs” to “lesbian sex” to a viral video mash-up.

Here are this week’s top 10 jokes about the RNC, Steele…and Voyeur.

#10

“If (the Republicans) can’t spend donor money at a sex club, the terrorists win.”

David Letterman

#9

“Sex scandals are nothing new for a Republican Party, that reports, when it’s daylight, to place family values above all others, but it is still not every day that the Republican National Committee is caught using party funds to reimburse a political official for the four figure tab he rang up at a lesbian and bondage themed night club in West Hollywood. Waiter, this steak tastes like leather.”

Keith Olbermann Continue reading "“Bondage” And More: Top Ten Jokes About Michael Steele And The RNC This Week"

New York Times Liveblogs iPad Lines


The day of reckoning is finally upon us: Will the iPad live up to the hype, or will those overnight lines that have been forming around virtually every Apple store in the country be all for naught? Luckily, The New York Times has nothing better to do on this gorgeous Saturday either, and has devoted the day to chronicling customers’ experiences through a liveblog: a systematically updated entry that is usually reserved for award ceremonies and prime time television dramas.

So far the updates have come at irregular intervals…anywhere from 5 minutes to a whole half hour apart, with topics ranging from “Overheard in line” (“This is like ‘Star Wars’ for Apple geeks”) to user-submitted images of the first guy in Miami Beach to own an iPad. Though we’re not really sure how that can be fact-checked…is there really only one Apple store in all of Miami Beach? We’d say check back throughout the day for more updates, but we don’t want you to lose battery power while waiting online yourself.


Mediaite In The News: Steve Krakauer Rising!

Congratulations to Mediaite TV Editor Steve Krakauer on being profiled in this week’s New York Times Thursday Styles section as a rising blogger, even though we raised a wee brow at the notion that Steve’s reporting on ratings, personalities, trends and news on the TV beat counted as “gossip” any more than, say, MediaDecoder does. Steve was featured along with the Village Voice’s Foster Kamer, Media Takeout’s Fred Mwangaguhunga, Crushable’s Erin Carlson, Gawker’s Maureen O’Connor (whose shoes beat out Foster’s jaunty bag, it must be said), Fashionologie’s Tommye Fitzpatrick, The Gloss’ Lilit Marcus, Curbed’s Sara Polsky and Dealbreaker’s Bess Levin.

Read all about Steve here — but we’ve got some exclusive material you didn’t see in the article. Featured bloggers were sent a questionnaire by reporter Alex Williams, and we have exclusively obtained part of Steve’s to share with you here.

************

Age: 25

Hometown: Westfield, NJ

Educational background (including major): Syracuse University, Broadcast Journalism major

Personal journalistic hero/model/inspiration:
Woodward and Bernstein? But really, Cal Ripken Jr.

Current blog traffic (and, rate of traffic increase, if it applies): Approximately one million unique visitors and more than four million page views per month. (Ed: Steve cited Feb numbers here; our March numbers improved on this rather significantly.)

Number of posts a week:
35-40

Biggest scoop/hit (describe, including measure of impact): We were the first blog to notice and write about the NBC Cafeteria Black History Month “fried chicken” menu. The post translated to a lot of page views, but bigger was the impact – that night Wanda Sykes was joking about it on Jay Leno, and it was covered throughout TV news. (See here.)

Personal favorite line/phrase in any recent post of yours:
Headline to the John Mayer/Playboy interview post: “John Mayer’s Penis Is A Racist Wonderland

Biggest rival in blog world: Oh we’re all about the love at Mediaite! Well we enjoy some friendly competition with Gawker, the Huffington Post and more.

First blog other than your own you check every morning (feel free to elaborate):
Well of course there’s the rest of the Abrams Media family – Geekosystem, Styleite (launching Monday!) – and right now, keeping an eye on Twitter is the best way to stay up on the day’s biggest stories.

Favorite sparring partner (subject you’ve written about and gotten into a tangle with; please describe): For whatever reason, MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann has taken to bashing Mediaite a few times on his prime time show. We can take it though. (See here and here.)

How do you stay sane/decompress after 12/16/whatever-hour days (or whatever) staring at a computer: Although I write about TV for a living, I wish I could say I did something other than watch TV to decompress. Instead, there’s a lot of bad TV I watch (and occasionally write about) like Jersey Shore and Real World, go to the gym, and grab the occasional drink or six.

Ultimate career goal: To be the next Conan O’Brien (so…unemployed?). No, I would love to have a role in getting young people excited about news, politics and current events.