I just read an interesting article in the New York Times about today’s news coverage, which also applies to the world of golf:
Since the days when most major cities supported multiple newspapers, the news media has long been subject to groupthink, and prone to search for sensation. But as more readers move toward online social networks, and as publishers desperately seek scale to bring in revenue, many have deplored a race toward repetitive, trivial journalism, so noisy that it drowns out more considered work.
In recent weeks, there have been complaints from various corners of the media world that online news has deteriorated, and that it is now focused on the viral at the expense of the substantive.
It’s about 1,500 words and well worth the time it takes to read it. Here’s another tidbit:
According to research by Facebook, news pages, often heavy with advertising, take an average of eight seconds to load, the longest for any kind of content. That can feel like a lifetime to a smartphone user seeking a quick glimpse of the news while waiting in line or commuting. When readers finally arrive at the story, they must steel themselves for a fight — to dismiss pleadings to subscribe or register, or to shut down advertisements that play automatically, by touching a tiny, moving “X” with the fingertip precision of a surgeon.
The weapon of choice is often emotion. Specialists optimize and test multiple headlines and pictures. If they land on a successful formula — asking a provocative question, hinting at a profound experience, including a celebrity name — it is quickly echoed by other outlets.
IMPORTANT BREAKING NEWS!!!
Tiger Woods to play Wyndham!
Okay, so it’s not really important. But it is kind of breaking, or at least Woods, Finchem, and Steinberg would like you to think it is.
What a load of nonsense. The deal-making could not be more transparent.
Let’s go through the chronology:
July 30: From Golf Channel, we learn that Tiger Woods is receiving an exemption to play in the Hero Challenge, an 18-man OWGR points giveaway that requires participants be in the OWGR top fifty. Woods, at the time was OWGR #266. (Now, he is OWGR #286.) [By the way, those points will also count toward Olympics qualifying. They will also, of course, count toward qualification in WGC events.]
August 3: From ESPN, we learn Woods is “considering” whether or not to play the Wyndham, a tournament he has never before played. It is dependent, though, on Woods “playing well in the PGA”:
NORTON, Mass. — If Tiger Woods has a strong-enough showing at next week’s PGA Championship, he will consider playing in the Wyndham Championship the following week in order to attempt to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“Playing well in the PGA, that determines whether or not I play Wyndham [Championship] and obviously the rest of the FedEx Cup playoffs,” Woods said at a media day for the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Okay, pretty clearly he did not play well, as he missed the cut. He started the PGA Championship at FedEx Cup #187 and finished at FedEx Cup #187. But he’s playing Wyndham, anyway. So there was no “decision” based on his play the PGA Championship. That was just a smokescreen that didn’t work out, designed to cover the quid pro quo deal between Finchem and Woods.
August 17: From ESPN, we learn that Woods is, despite the poor showing at the PGA, playing the Wyndham.
Could it be any clearer that Finchem told Woods he’d give him the free Hero Challenge OWGR points in exchange for agreeing to play the Wyndham? I got a real kick out of how Steinberg said it would have been bad form to announce Woods was playing Wyndham over the weekend. Like he couldn’t have announced it July 30 and been done with it. You know, come out and say: “Today Tim Finchem gave Tiger an exemption into the Hero OWGR Points Giveaway, and, by the way, Tiger is playing the Wyndham. There’s no connection whatsoever. Thanks for your time.”
This crap is beyond old. Would it even be possible for the management of the PGA Tour to be any more corrupt? If Woods is to play in the Hero Challenge, he should forfeit any OWGR points he might win.
Mike and Mike: The show opened with a long discussion about Jason Day and the PGA Championship.
ESPN SportsCenter: Day and the PGA Championship was the lead story. They spent several minutes on golf, looking back at the year’s majors, and covering the OWGR changes.
ESPN Website: Top story is Jason Day and the PGA Championship.
Crickets and Tumbleweeds: No response from Brandel Chamblee regarding Woods’s Rock Ishii ball-aided success in 2000.
More on Mike and Mike: ESPN continues to cover Jason Day extensively. In Monday’s Top Stories, they have 1. Jason Day, 2. Jordan Spieth.
Bad Trend For Woods: Sports reporters are nothing if not imitative and lemming-like; you won’t rock the boat and lose your job if you only say things you hear every other sports reporter saying. Unfortunately for Woods, though, it’s becoming de riguer for those in the general sports media to express an obligatory dismissal of Woods when they report on the Days and Spieths and McIlroys. Things along the lines of, “Tiger Woods dropped to #286, and, frankly, he’s just not a story any more.” That’s old news to golf fans, but general sports fans are having cold water splashed in their faces. And think of the message it sends to Nike and Finchem and Golf Channel: We’re not buying any more of your Tiger Woods hogwash.