Earth to NBC: The Internet is here

Smarter people than I will write about this, but I’m interested so….

Is NBC aware that the Internet and social media has changed the world of news? It’s hard to tell.

* Last night, Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera claimed not to know who Sir Tim Berners-Lee is. As a result, they embarrassed themselves and the network to millions of viewers.

* The first big event of the Olympics was the 400 medley pitting Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. Did NBC, which half-a-dozen channels at its disposal, show the race live? No. But damned if you couldn’t watch endless cycling, soccer, volleyball, fencing, etc.

* At the 6:30 p.m. nightly news broadcast, Brian Williams apologized to viewers for being a spoiler and announced that Ryan Lochte won the 400 buttterfly medley earlier in the day. Awkward for a newsman announcing the day’s top story, but OK. Then the network doesn’t actually show film of the race itself. Shows only stills.

* At 7:30 p.m. the network promotes the 400 butterfly as “tonight’s race” between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, even as it — and many viewers — knew that Lochte already won the race. Difference between the news division and entertainment? Embarrassing? Absolutely. The local affiliate, WXII, did the same in its special report preceding the 8 p.m. Olympics coverage.

* At 8 p.m. Bob Costas, to his credit, announces that everything the network is showing is taped and that the network is not going to announce results before it shows the races. No spoilers, he says.

I’m sure there are others. I’ve not watched much of the Olympic so far, but so far I’m not impressed.

Sunday update: Yes, there are better observers. Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOm is one. Jeff Jarvis has another.



Predictions: Kansas vs. UNC

When I read that Jeff Mills of the News & Record picked North Carolina to beat Kansas today, I was inspired to check on other prognosticators. I checked the columnists at the News & Observer, the Charlotte Observer and the Winston-Salem Journal, but I couldn’t find any indication pf a prediction on their websites.

Dick Vitale picks Kansas: Roy Williams faces his former team, and the Tar Heels are not the same if Kendall Marshall isn’t in the lineup. Tyler Zeller had a 20-20 game vs. Ohio but it will be a lot tougher against Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey.

So does Stewart Mandel at 68-64.

Dave Carey at goes Kansas, too:  A physical game will favor Kansas, which has won its past two by a combined six points and knows what it takes to thrive in a chaotic, late-game situation.

Josh Schoch at picks Kansas.

Dan Rubenstein of SB Nation picks Kansas.

On the other hand: goes UNC: 77-75.

Patrick Clarke at Carolina, 67-60. I liked North Carolina to win this matchup before the tournament began and I still like their chances even without Marshall at the point. The Jayhawks are struggling mightily on the offensive end and another slow start on Sunday will cost them a shot at the Final Four.

Mike Gminski picks Carolina.

A different kind of sports reporting at the News & Record

The past few years, when it was time to create the budget for the news department at the paper, I would slash expenses with all the surgical precision of Freddy Krueger. (At least that’s the way it felt.) Sending reporters and photographers with UNC and Duke through the NCAA tournament? Whack!. (It never occurred to me that N.C. State would make it. My bad.)

My thinking was that scores of journalists are there, all reporting basically the same story. Why add a few more to the mix? The paper subscribes to wire services that are sending dispatches from the games. Besides, perhaps staying away from the madding crowd might inspire our reporters to write something different.

It wasn’t a popular choice among the staff.

So, I was surprised and delighted when I read the story by Jeff Mills of the UNC-Ohio game in Saturday’s paper. The only way I knew he wasn’t sitting courtside was that the story didn’t have a dateline. I had watched the game on television and listened to the post-game interviews on the radio, as, apparently, had he. Unlike me, he had taken his experience of covering ACC basketball this season and written an on-the-mark expert analysis of why Carolina won, complete with player and coach quotes.

It was, as sports editor Eddie Wooten later told me, as if Jeff were the News & Record’s version of Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis sitting back in the studio commenting on the game. We had always assumed that 99 percent of the readers who cared about a basketball game watched the game on television. The value of the reporter wasn’t recapping the game itself, it was in using their knowledge of the players and coaches to tell people why and how a team won or lost. Jeff did that from 750 miles away. I asked Eddie to elaborate.

We like to offer readers analysis of the big ACC games. What is the big takeaway from this game? The only way to get that out of the NCAA regionals, without being there ourselves, was for our writers to produce that content from home. We could have printed stories from the wire services, but those stories are more often game rehash with a few quotes.

Yes, we miss things when we’re not there. We miss things the camera won’t pick up during a live broadcast: Discussion between coach and player, or official and coach, or among players. It’s hard to get the feel for the game from the den. We have access to quotes from locker room, but we don’t see the body language or sense the emotion.

So it’s not perfect. But just as a suit in a studio can deliver analysis on a game played far away, so can we. And at this point in the season, our writers know our teams better than the writers assigned to cover NCAA tournament games.

It was a smart and creative use of Jeff’s skills.


When coaches and refs cuss: what he said

Did referee Brian Dorsey curse at N.C. State Coach Mark Gottfried in yesterday’s ACC semi-final match between Carolina and State? Apparently so.

During the game, Adam Smith of the Burlington Times-News tweeted: Gottfried: “That’s a charge!” Ref Brian Dorsey: “Shut your #$%^&& ass up!” He went on to tweet that the word preceding ass started with an f.

State fans erupted. Already incensed at the officiating, the exchange heightened things.

For decades, all but two of the Atlantic Coast Conference institutions have almost uniformly acknowledged that the conference has a major problem with officiating incompetence and double standards. Maybe some of the ‘good’ news about yet ANOTHER public implosion of John Swofford and John Clougherty’s officiating cabal will be some change is on the way.

That’s from statefansnation. I won’t quote from any of the comment boards.

Ed Hardin of the News & Record tells a slightly different story in his column for the newspaper (in the e-edition):

“That’s (expletive)!” Mark Gottfried, the N.C. State coach screamed at referee Brian Dorsey in the chaotic closing seconds of the game. “That’s a (expletive) charge!”

Dorsey cussed right back at Gottfried.

Then later:

Gottfired was told to “back up” more than once, and his red-faced glare was ignored throughout the game. He could have been teed up any number of times.

In the end, Gottfried was pounding his fist into his hands and screaming vulgarities at the top of his lungs at Dorsey.

I couldn’t find any other reference to the exchange in other papers. Perhaps sportwriters are simply used to the cursing on the sidelines. What fan hasn’t been able to read the lips of coaches and players cussing at officials, at each other and to themselves? Say what you will about the wholesome educational atmosphere engendered at our state institutions.

I looked at the Burlington Times-News this morning to see how Adam Smith described the incident for his non-Twitter readers, but see no reference to the Gottfried-Dorsey conversation. (I looked online; I could have missed it.) I’ve messaged editor Madison Taylor about it. I will post his response when I get it.

Update: Actually, Madison wrote about it on his blog. (I should have known. He’s the best blogging editor in the state.)

Because I was monitoring the game on Twitter and watching on TV, I saw Adam’s post when he sent it. I knew right away it could be radioactive. I follow a lot of sports writers and fans. I already knew the N.C. State crowd was seething — and with decent reason. Not long after the game, State Fans Nation, a blog that covers Wolfpack athletics for fans picked up on Adam’s observation. By then, it had a life of its own.

“I’m a little uncomfortable about it to tell you the truth,” Adam told me. “It’s not like this never happens.”

Adam went on to explain that language among coaches is frequently of the &##^#& variety, especially when dealing with officials — Gottfried included. He didn’t see any reason not to report this exchange.

It goes on. Read the whole thing.