The “no information” interview

sham (sham) n. [prob. < a N.Eng. dial. var. of shame] 1. formerly, a trick or fraud  2. a) an imitation that is meant to deceive; counterfeit  b) a hypocritical action, deceptive appearance, etc. (The Tiger Woods interviews on ESPN and Golf Channel were a sham)

It only took seeing the first few seconds of The Golf Channel’s interview to realize something was screwy:

You don’t do a serious interview standing up, in front of what looks like a projected woodlands background, wearing a golf cap; the interviewer raced through questions without seeming to hear the answers; when you’re asked to explain what happened, you can’t just refer the world to the police report!

First of all, in this case, it’s not all in the police report.

Second, even if it were, it’s completely legitimate to want to see and hear him tell the story.  But I didn’t know at the time that The World’s Greatest Golfer Ever had limited the interview to only five minutes.  Kelly Tilghman didn’t have time to follow up: if she asked again—and he stalled again—she doesn’t get to ask any other questions…plus, she doesn’t want to challenge the famously testy TWGGE for fear of losing access later.

Eric Deggans saw what I was seeing: Woods wasn’t doing an interview, he was making something that looked like an interview, and would afford him the option to say “Hey, I already talked about this” and refuse to answer later when a real reporter asked the questions he still hasn’t answered.  (That’s a BS answer anyway, but the sports media lets athletes get away with it all the time.)

I worked in radio (back in the last century) and I understand the professional and promotional value of having the story first.  But the emphasis on “breaking news” comes at the expense of understanding the story: too many media companies use it as an excuse for why they don’t find out what’s really going on in Story A—they’re too busy doing live shots on Stories J and R.

And if they don’t understand that, how do you even discuss the issue of sending out an interviewer who has a private business relationship with the interviewee!

Tiger Woods is no idiot, and smart newsmakers do well to exploit the news media’s self-imposed soft spot to get their story out first—they know that it’s harder to change an impression than to make one.

Recommended reading

If you’re a fan of Stevens & Pruett, or KLOL, or the good old days of Houston radio, do yourself a solid—read Laurie Kendrick’s post about S&P on 101. 

I worked at the sister station KTRH when S&P came back to Houston, and I was a Hudson & Harrigan fan as a kid.  I tell you, she nails it…of course, she was there, and one of the pieces that made that whole so much fun to listen to.  Be sure to check the comments, too, to hear from some of those mentioned.

And if you’re just a fan of good writing, read Laurie’s blog any day…it’s on my blogroll for a reason.

10 acres, river view

Wondering about that picture in the banner up there?  (Of course you are.)  It’s the subway station at the Yankee Stadium stop.

I was born less than three miles from the Big Ballyard: Union Hospital, 188th St. and Valentine Ave.  Both of my parents grew up just two miles further uptown from there, 205th St. and Perry Ave.

Yankee Stadium is in my family history:

my dad, a teenager working there for concessionaire Harry M. Stevens, on the day he planned to dip into the till to fund his running away from home, popping his head up from behind the counter, cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth, and coming face to face with his own father, who talked him into coming home (and prevented the crime!)

my mom, the single working woman who got free tickets behind the dugout from her employer, on the day she was appalled that the visiting team player who she’d been fixed up with got into a fight on the field with Billy Martin (no second date for you, Clint Courtney!)

I became a Yankees fan in adulthood but the Stadium and its history fascinated me long before that.  So I’m sad to see it being torn down, although I understand all the good reasons why that has to happen.

A thoughtful piece in today’s New York Times brought me to the destruction site; then I took myself on a trip—to my first adult visit to the park in the 1980s, to the team’s glory days of the 50s, to my family’s history in the 40s and 30s, back to the first Opening Day (1923, Yanks beat the Sawks 4-1), back to ten acres of farmland overlooking the Harlem River with a view to the Polo Grounds.

Oh well…I also found a story in the Daily News that offers some explanation of why this is taking so long, and another site photo-documenting the  demolition.  Which also fascinates me.