An article in the New York Times this morning profiles Giants' kicker
Jay Feely. Feely, like his more famous teammate Tiki Barber has
ambitions well beyond the football field, including the desire to
pursue a future career in the media and, perhaps, politics. Feely
considers himself a man of strong Christian faith, and I think I can
guess what his politics are, though his viewpoint is not made explicit
in the Times piece.
In any event, the story mentions that Feely writes a regular blog for NBC.com. I have read a few entries and find it mostly banal. However, Feely does have an interesting post about what he regards as the mutually exploitative relationship between professional athletes and the media.
"Media member (sic) will tell you that they don't have a vested interest in writing negative stories. That is inherently untrue. The nature of media today is decidedly negative. Most nightly newscasts are filled with crime reports and barely touch on positive human-interest stories. MSNBC, CNN, FOX News, 20/20, and the rest report on decidedly negative stories because that is what generates ratings. When you are driven by bottom line finances you are not unbiased. In Atlanta, when we were marred in a nine-game losing streak and the local media had very little to report on, I witnessed them actively seeking to create controversy when none existed. When I questioned the reporters about it they merely said my editor forced me to write this story. They will often deny culpability in their story by using their editor as a scapegoat or blaming the person who writes the headline. This is where the disdain develops in the athlete. They witness the reporter purposefully skewing their words in a fashion they knew they were not intended to have a greater impact. The athlete witnesses the manipulation of a situation to generate a specific response and he becomes hardened. I am not trying to unburden the athlete from his responsibility to speak carefully, be aware, and control his emotions, but it is also undeniable that the media has a specific agenda."
Especially illuminating here is the dynamic between reporter and editor and how the pressures inherent in that relationship prompt reporters to go fishing for controversy. Reporters, as a rule, never like to acknowledge the ways in which the pressure of their business affects the coverage. Their preferred explanation for the nature of coverage is that events simply happen, and they simply report them, as if neither interpretation, editorial discretion, corporate pressure or personal bias plays any conceivable role in what we, the readers, learn and don't learn.
It's refreshing, and unusual to see someone in a public position puncture the bubble just a bit.