Writing side reports, much less doing them, is dangerous.
Fix it. “Terrible” is not correct here. To be honest, those who think that the work is inappropriate will not believe that there is any value in the report from those who do the best, or the actual report of injuries and methods.
Which is… great.
But that doesn’t mean Charissa Thompson’s admission that, apparently more than once, she only did halftime reports when she couldn’t talk to the coaches coming out or back on the field during her time as a reporter for Fox Sports at football games. it didn’t really hurt my business. Thompson, who hosts Fox Sports and NFL games on Amazon Prime, apologized Friday and said he “chosen the wrong words” during the interview but added that he “didn’t lie” during the interview.
There is an attack on journalism. It goes on and on and on and on. It is an extension of the attack on the truth by powerful people – in sovereign governments, in multi-national corporations, in various sorceries – who do not want to be controlled or criticized or challenged. It is a sign of the power of journalism that it continues to be under constant attack by the masses.
It’s working: Journalism is now among the most trusted professions, and fake news thrives. Lies on X/Twitter or IG or TikTok multiply in the bloodstream of all people, swallowed by many who don’t know better – and, sadly, encouraged by many who do.
The best journalism offers the opposite of that fiction. It is the search for truth, and the explanation of real events – how they happened, and why they matter.
It is very difficult for the need for truth to capture this aspect of journalism – sports. Those of us who have spent our lives covering the game understand: Many people come to the game to divert their lives for a few hours where they do not have to worry about paying bills, or politics, or other difficult issues. Watching sports with grandparents who are sick is a short break; Getting together on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to see your favorite band with your loved ones can give you memories of a lifetime. (Sometimes, it may be the only time you have a peaceful conversation all week.)
There are those who would never think of side reporting as a serious job.
Most of those who do, and those who did, take skill very much seriously.
Not alone. The job.
But Thompson provided ammunition to those who once believed that all journalists lie, or that we all write or report things for the sake of clicks and votes.
Most people in journalism love to tell stories – what inspires, what informs, what angers. We like to stay griot, a town crier, a tribal leader. Sometimes, our jobs require us to speak the truth, ask the tough questions and ask for answers – on your behalf, not ours. It may be hard for some of you to see those behaviors, especially those who are entrenched in the “I never learned anything from a sideline reporter / I always talk to them” camp.
Every game, whether it’s a championship game like the World Series or the Stanley Cup Final, or a meaningless game between two .500 teams in the middle conference, has a story. Sideline reporters help translate the news.
When I was at Turner Sports, we were told every week, “Beginning, middle, end.” Start reporting this week’s story at the top of the show. Improving the story in the game. Complete the story by completing the sound or the gun. It made a good broadcast. Side reporting helps with this, when done right.
I worked for over ten years, mostly for Turner, mostly working on NBA games. But this is not about me. This is for those who were and are the best at it: Andrea Kremer. Pam Oliver. The late Craig Sager. Tracy Wolfson. Holly Rowe. And, in the background, Jim Gray and Lesley Visser and James Brown.
Sideline reporting is often the only way for non-veteran players — male and female reporters, especially those of color — to participate in sports broadcasting, especially since studio shows are now filled with former players and coaches. Former players and coaches also do almost all of the pre-show interviews with current players and coaches that you see on sports shows.
Thompson did a lot of damage to the media, and, especially, to young people just getting into the business. Many of them went to journalism schools in Syracuse, Missouri, Northwestern – or, my beloved alma mater, American University – to learn the art and how to do it with integrity and passion, so as not to become a talking point. Women like Kremer, Oliver, Lisa Salters and Laura Okmin have been doing well with years of good work from the sidelines and they’ve dealt with more crap than I’ve ever done – about their looks, their voices, everything. Their very own to exist it seems to lift the audience, especially men.
Sideline reporting wasn’t my chosen career out of college, and I never dreamed that my quarterly interview with Gregg Popovich would go viral.
But when I agreed to do so, I worked, from the moment I arrived in each game city, to find stories that could be connected between the games. This means going to practice the day before the game to talk with the players and coaches, going to the shooting the morning of the game, doing sit-down interviews with the star players when they arrive at the stadium, participating in pre-game discussions with both coaches. , interviewing people from all walks of life before the game, and looking at all the facts for information and news. (I was lucky enough to work with game legends like Marv Albert, Kevin Harlan and others, along with game producers, who respected my contributions and made time for me during the broadcast.)
And when it comes to reporting, whether on the side or on other issues, there is no such thing as a “small” lie. You either have knowledge, or you don’t, and if you don’t, you will. If the main teacher is not available, find an assistant. Or a football player. Or a teacher. Get it somebody. It’s always up to you.
The media reaction to this has been very powerful, because what each of us who do this for a living has is our reputation. It depends on the construction. And it is a bear to change when lost.
(Photo: Cooper Neill/Getty Images)