CRAWFORD | Crying Cal? Some at C-J backing away from morning gra - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Crying Cal? Some at C-J backing away from morning graphic

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Courier-Journal image courtesy of Lachlan McLean twitter. Courier-Journal image courtesy of Lachlan McLean twitter.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I have to say, I felt for Kyle Tucker when I scrolled down my Twitter feed this morning and started to see images of The Courier-Journal sports front.

I've been there. You're just doing your job, minding your own business, and BAM! You open the paper and you've got yourself a full-on, Twitter-induced headache before you've even had your first cup of coffee.

Tucker is the University of Kentucky beat reporter for the paper, and the sports front graphic was John Calipari's head photoshopped onto a baby wearing only a diaper. As beat reporter, you wind up being the ambassador of your newspaper to the athletic department you cover. You don't want to be, but as the guy who is on campus every day, it winds up falling to you. On days like this, they ought to pay you more.

The graphic accompanied Tim Sullivan's column on comments Calipari reportedly made to Jim Boeheim about Team USA coaches getting a recruiting advantage because of their opportunity to work with some of the nation's top young players. You can see it by clicking the photo at the right. (Sorry it's not a better photo. I took it from Lachlan McClean's Twitter feed. I'd have pulled it off their e-edition but I couldn't find a way to buy a single copy, and I'm not driving down to the store to get a paper.)

The main problem with the graphic and headline is that they don't reflect what Sullivan wrote. He never referred to Calipari as "whining." So the whole concept is taking someone else's opinion of the whole thing and blasting it out on the sports front.

As I found myself saying quite often during my newspaper days: Newspaper columnists (or reporters) don't choose the pictures, write the captions, or have anything to do with the headlines or story placement. Maybe six or eight times as a C-J columnist, I really had a problem with a headline on one of my columns. It got to where I was logging into the system to check the page to see if there was anything I wanted to ask them to change before the late edition hit the presses.

But there was never anything like this. Tucker, just after nine o'clock, Tweeted the following:

image

Sullivan, who wrote the column, said, "Wasn't my illustration. Don't think it was consistent with my column." He also tweeted this:

image

Good luck with that.

I never went that far when confronted with these kinds of complaints. For every headline a copy editor wrote that I thought took a liberty with a column, they wrote a hundred that made me look good -- or in some other way saved my rear-end on a semi-daily basis. Then again, I never woke up and saw a coach I was covering in a diaper. In those days, there was no such thing as a graphic or illustration that ran without the writer seeing at least a version of it first. Clearly, that has changed.

Sports editor Creig Ewing said via Twitter that the design was done outside the sports department, in the paper's design studio. That studio is three floors above where editors and reporters work, and walking into it is like entering a different world. Around 20 Gannett newspapers are all designed in the same space. It's also worth noting that while Ewing is the sports editor, the C-J recently added a sports director. What's the difference? Well, you see ... um. I don't know.

The amount of public discussion that's springing up around this -- heck, the very existence of this blog entry -- are testament to the truth that those kinds of graphics draw interest, and for print editions of newspapers (the average circulation of The C-J's weekday print edition was 116,673 last fall), that's a welcome change.

In the end, if you're a metrics guy at The C-J this morning, the only question you're asking is, "Why isn't this online?" As it stands, there's a ton of conversation about the print edition headline and graphic in other places, but at present there's only one comment on Sullivan's story on the C-J's site, and no topics on the C-J's UK sports forum site. If you're going for attention, might as well go full speed. (Also, if you're a C-J metrics guy, you might ask why the paper goes to so much expense to cover UK and put its stories behind a pay wall, then USA Today offers them for free at its new Spanning the SEC site.)

A note on the substance of all this. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! wrote a column several days ago saying that USA Basketball was outliving its usefulness to NBA players, and that the whole enterprise is becoming little more than a vehicle to showcase Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

I agree with his basic premise. NBA stars playing in events like the World Cup of Basketball is an iffy proposition at best. At worst, it's a chance for guys like Paul George to suffer career-threatening injuries.

But then Woj took off on Coach K, on the number of stories about him during the training process, on his photo with Paul George in the hospital being Tweeted out.

There were some shots. And maybe he was just echoing complaints he'd heard from college coaches, but saying that USA Basketball is little more than a Krzyzewski photo op is going a bit over the top, and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, responding to that story, said so in an interview with Syracuse.com. In that interview, Boeheim said UK coach John Calipari was one coach who had expressed concern to him over all the access Team USA coaches were getting to elite recruits.

From that, the story picked up steam.

I considered writing a column on it myself, but couldn't get past this fact: We don't know what Calipari told Boeheim. Calipari hadn't said a word about USA Basketball or Mike Krzyzewski publicly, and I had a problem weighing in on an opinion on Calipari's statements without even knowing what they were, number one, and knowing that the only statements we have were a private conversation with another coach, number two.

Yesterday, after Boeheim's comments, Calipari responded with a series of Tweets, including this one:

image

After all that, I laid off it. Bye, bye web hits.

But make no mistake -- coaches complain about unfair advantages all the time. A couple of years back, Billy Donovan complained that UK was getting an unfair advantage when Aaron and Andrew Harrison and James Young were shown (on taped segments) announcing UK as their college choice and being interviewed about their choice. The footage was used on an All-Access reality series ESPN was running about UK.

Turns out, Donovan was right. Those were, in fact, secondary NCAA violations which UK had to report. They didn't wind up affecting anyone's eligibility, but UK did end its participation in the series after three episodes.

The C-J will take a beating from UK fans today, and might sell a few extra copies to University of Louisville fans. Until next week, when one day it'll be just the opposite. It is as it always has been -- the one constant in the newspaper business in these parts -- everyone is sure you're against them.

No matter what you think about it, I'd advise you not to whine about it. If they've got your Twitter avatar and photoshop, you could be next.

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