Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

So I’m on vacation this week. Actually, it’s more of a staycation in that I’m not going anywhere and don’t have anything planned.

To wit, Day 1 largely consisted of taking care of four kids while my wife tended to an ailing family member and then cooking a pasta casserole to freeze for a future dinner. I’m not complaining, having realized that real downtime doesn’t exist when you have such a large family. Rather, I needed a break from work, feeling like I was on the edge of burning out after a long year – so many NCAA tournament bids to cover and a major health scare for one of my daughters.


New Vice

Posted: May 20, 2013 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Just like quarterbacks are said to get more credit and more blame than they deserve, HBO is neither as excellent or as awful as it’s said to be – at least in the time that I’ve had access to it. The truth lies somewhere in between as is the case with pretty much everything in life.

Still, the station is on a pretty decent run right now including fresh episodes of Veep, Real Sports and Game of Thrones (full disclosure: I’ve never watched it) plus the debut of the Christopher Guest comedy Family Tree and the acquisition of Wes Anderson flick Moonlight Kingdom – just to name a few.

And then there’s Vice. (more…)

Welcome to this week’s hottest — coolest? — links.

* The most interesting piece of the week to me — and an important story — was Patrick Hruby’s piece in Sports on Earth about money and sports, specifically looking into stadiums (how they’re financed, PSL’s, etc.). But it touches on everything from rental car fees to the fact the NFL is “considered a nonprofit outfit. Just like the United Way.”

* If you stayed up until 1 on Wednesday/Thursday, you saw Dave Grohl playing drums with other former members of Nirvana while Sir Paul sang with the fellas. That was fun. The Washington Post had a nice feature on Grohl.

* Courtesy of, the worst job posting in history. If you’re in England and want to get into book publishing, here you go. Read the whole thing. But among the gems. “Any of the following will be grounds for immediate dismissal during the probationary period: coming in late or leaving early without prior permission; being unavailable at night or on the weekends; failing to meet any goals; giving unsolicited advice about how to run things; taking personal phone calls during work hours; gossiping; misusing company property, including surfing the Internet while at work; submission of poorly written materials; creating an atmosphere of complaint or argument; failing to respond to emails in a timely way; not showing an interest in other aspects of publishing beyond editorial; making repeated mistakes; violating company policies; DO NOT APPLY if you have a work history containing any of the above.”

* Kris Humphries nearly had a free throw blocked by a referee.

* Here, according to New York Magazine, are the 10 best SNL sketches of 2012.

* In what might be the worst story ever about newsroom cuts, the Kansas City Star allegedly told two employees to decide amongst themselves who would get the axe. Great googily moogily. Too rich for my blood.

* In good news/bad news news, there’s a chemical in beer that can help people fend off a nasty respiratory virus. It’s just that you’d need to hammer roughly 30 cans in order for it to take hold. In other words, this only applies to Andre the Giant … if he’s still alive.

* The podcast of the week belong to comedian Greg Fitzsimmons and his FitzDog Radio. As you might expect it’s, well, funny. But part of what makes it funny is that – surprise! – the unimposing Fitzsimmons reveals himself to be a fighter, amongst other things.

Editor’s note: This is an abbreviated version of a longer original. Why? Because a WordPress glitch wiped out my work, and I’m too tired to start over. I trust you’ll be OK.

Newsflash: It’s weird for sportswriters to switch seasons. I was reminded of that over the weekend when the college football team that I cover had its season – the longest in school history – end with a road playoff loss.

Aside from the time spent watching games and practices, there’s no telling how many hours I spent considering that team from August through early December – the schemes, the injuries, the personalities, the opponents, the ACT scores, the facial hair, the past and the future. Thinking about thinking about a group of people that I’m not related to makes me feel uncomfortable. But it’s part of the job in the Internet era – monitoring Twitter, filing web-only version of stories, creating daily blogs and weekly podcasts plus press conference videos. Despite the drop in subscription numbers, I’ll argue to the death (is that possible?) that the current product put out by daily newspapers is better than ever due to the 24-hour news cycle, but the wear-and-tear on the talent is greater, too.

And then it ends, cold turkey. There aren’t withdrawals, per se, no vomiting or nausea – it’s more like running on a treadmill that suddenly gets unplugged. It takes time for our body to return to its resting heart rate. That’s where basketball season comes in handy – there’s no such buffer in the spring, a season that most athletes will admit is more low key, less electric.

This is a good thing, I suppose. It means we’re willing to become engrossed in our work and that, in some twisted way, we dread the end. Sure beats punching a clock.

On Wednesday afternoon New York City got hit with its first snowfall of the winter. I drove home with a co-worker who lives in our neighborhood. Before getting in the car, the 37-year-old told me she hadn’t driven in snow since college. I told her she had to get us home safely, for our Friday links on TVFury must live on. She did.

* Former Fury Files guest Chris Jones wrote an intriguing piece about the New York City marathon and why Bloomberg should not have canceled it.

* ESPN’s Jeff MacGregor writes about his experience in the wake of Sandy, and how sports – its myths and traditions – played a role as he lived in the dark.

* There’s a chance Saturday could be the final game for St. John’s coach John Gagliardi. St. Paul Pioneer Press writer Bob Sansevere – who has interviewed Gagliardi countless times – chats with the legend once again.

* I admit I’m a Denzel Washington fanboy. And I just saw Flight and loved it. Here are a couple of Denzel pieces from Grantland. This one is an essay. And here’s a really fun interview with the actor.

* Cool story on how Truman Capote went about profiling Marlon Brando for a famous New Yorker story in 1957.

* From the journalists-on-journalists files, it turns out that genius political predictor Nate Silver got his start in sports. Conversely, the profession tends to attracts psychopaths, according to the Business Insider. And here I just thought we were free-food mooches.

* The podcast of the week: The Basketball Jones. Why? Because I will never – never – stop loving the sound of hoops being broken down by men with Canadian accents. To be clear, they know their stuff and are often entertaining. But there’s no question that I listen longer than I otherwise might just on the off chance that something delightfully Canadian will happen, that one of the regular panel members will drop an “aboot” or dig way too deep into the Toronto Raptors. It’s the good kind of strange, the exact opposite of listening to Americans announce soccer.

TV and Fury have noticed that there are a bunch of Web sites popping up dedicated to longform – and really good – sportswriting. (Nothing gets by us.)

Grantland, Sports on Earth, the forthcoming Glenn Stout project – we like them all. But what’s prompted the trend, are non-writers into it and can it be maintained given the cost and the constantly changing media industry? That’s the topic of this week’s TVFury podcast.

Here’s the link.

TV will spend countless hours staring at this over the next nine months.

Considering how much time I spend operating one, my lack of knowledge about cars is fairly astounding. The school year starts today in Sioux Falls and soon at South Dakota State, meaning I’ll spend more time than I can easily count on the road and in the air, traveling back and forth and here and there. It’s part of my job as a sports reporter – a big part of it, sometimes.

Take the back half of last week, for example. (And I write this despite fully acknowledging that travelogues are arguably as uninteresting as retroactive play-by-play of a round of golf or a hand of poker. That’s never stopped me before.) On Thursday evening, I drove 50 miles from Sioux Falls to Brookings to attend a two-hour football practice. I made the return trip, too. Friday morning, it was off to Minneapolis to cover a Vikings preseason game. That’s 4 hours each way. I got home at 4 a.m. About six hours later, I was headed to a muddy field near a town called Renner to run an obstacle-laden 5K.

Certainly, not every three-day span from September to June is like that, but many of them are.

And I generally love it. (more…)

Chris Bosh. This happened.

A melancholy Black Friday to you all. Yes, we said Black Friday. Why? Because the NBA season is done. It ended Thursday night with the Heat and 27-year-old LeBron James “finally” winning a title. We were hoping for at least a couple more games, if only to delay the official start of the sports abyss. But, alas, it was not to be. For all that was made about the stars, Miami’s supporting cast distanced itself from Oklahoma City’s.

More on that next week. For now, time to watch The Tapes.

* Taking the Odd Couple idea to the extreme, Jewish writer Jeff Pearlman interviews a modern American Nazi for his blog. Talk about a conflicting read. On one hand, you want to at least hear what this guy has to say yet at some point you find yourself applying the brakes, going, ‘Wait a minute, this guy is full of it.’ Whether intended or not, it shines some light on the slick salesmanship that is done by extremists.

* Meanwhile, David Simon, best known for his work on The Wire (although I also give him more credit than most for Treme), took to his blog to break some news … or at least, to air a theory. In short, he thinks that murder stats in Baltimore are inaccurate, and that is partially because the local newspapers no longer have the resources to properly cover the crime beat.
While I have no idea if the B.P.D. is doing anything untoward, the reasoning is sound and points to the vital watchdog role that newspapers can play in not just small communities, but large ones. And that is a gigantic point. Talk all you want about online and multimedia and immediacy – seeking and reporting the truth is the most important service provided by newspapers. Sadly, too many inside and outside the industry – myself included – don’t consider that often enough.

* Fury here. For those who read my golf piece earlier in the week, big news from Thursday: I beat my dad, finally, first time in a long time. Broke 50 (on nine holes, alas). And, for the first time in my life, birdied a par-5. With no mulligans or kicks out from trees. Big moment in Janesville.

* In depressing media news, Turner might be buying Bleacher Report for $200 million. Hmm. For those unfamiliar with Bleacher Report, you’re lucky souls. And if Bleacher Report is worth that, then TVFury is worth at least — at least — 2 cents.

* If you didn’t know, the Thunder’s loss can be blamed on Kobe Bryant. Yes, this is the worst article of the week. Why do I let these things annoy me? I don’t know.

Time to watch The Tapes, our weekly review of stories that are worth your time:

* The self-promotion department asked that we bring your attention to the piece that TV wrote about Tim Miles, small-town South Dakotan turned Big Ten basketball coach. We’re not sure if Big Red will turn things around or not, but it won’t lack for personality. Miles is as charasmatic as they get.

* The Jerry Sandusky trial began this week. And we already can’t wait for it to end. The details are brutal, especially when coming from the alleged victims on the stand. Yes, this is America and everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but we think that, if found guilty, Sandusky should be brought up on additional charges for making people relive the alleged crimes. Of course, no decent person would commit these sort of alleged crimes to begin with, so for us to ask that he act reasonably and fess up in order to prevent further pain and suffering is non-sensical.
If you can stomach the coverage, Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! has been all over the trial.

* It was (another) depressing week in journalism, as three Southern papers announced debilitating cuts. A former New Orleans reporter gave her account on cut day based on what went on in the newsroom.
TV got a very, very small taste of this during his trip to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association awards weekend. He met a writer from Alabama. the reigning state sportswriter of the year. What’s his beat? He’s not sure anymore. The cuts caught everyone off guard in Birmingham. He traveled to North Carolina with his two children, and had no idea what to expect upon returning to work. This is the uncertainty facing even some of the finest in our field on a daily basis.

* NBA TV premiered an outstanding documentary about the 1992 Dream Team and you should definitely check it out if your cable provider has the channel. If they don’t, write a letter. Meanwhile, GQ had an oral history of the team. And next month, longtime SI writer Jack McCallum has a book coming out on the squad. My one quibble with one Dream Team member. Everyone knows Michael Jordan went to extremes to find motivation — witness his bizarre and uncomfortable Hall of Fame speech – but there’s a ridiculous statement in the documentary. Jordan says that as the Dream Team gathered, there were still many people saying, yeah, Jordan’s good, but he’ll never be Magic Johnson. No one was saying this in 1992. Magic had retired the year before and Jordan had just won two straight titles. People were already talking about him being the best ever. MJ used it as motivation as he battled Magic for alpha dog status, but I wanted my complaint noted.

* This piece is a few weeks old but I really enjoyed it and in light of the Rome-Stern conspiracy throwdown, worth a link. Patrick Hruby goes inside the world of sports conspiracy theorists. From the 1985 NBA Lottery to Game 6 of the 2002 to Super Bowl III.

This is going to read like a commercial, and in a way that’s what it is. But I’m OK with that considering the real and perceived state of the journalism industry.

I spent Saturday-Tuesday in Salisbury, N.C., home to Cheerwine, Apple Ugly and the NSSA. What’s Cheerwine? A red soda that’s big in the South. It’s quite pleasant, although I was mocked summarily for ordering the diet kind. What’s an Apple Ugly? A prepackaged apple fritter, the caloric contents of which I won’t reveal. And what’s the NSSA? Good question. In fact, I was at best vaguely aware of it until a few months ago. In plain speak, it’s the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, an organization that looks to further and honor sports journalism.

The annual awards weekend is a major part of that. I was invited to attend by virtue of being named South Dakota sportswriter of the year. However, and this is where you come in, it turns out that the event is not exclusive to the state winners – it’s fairly accessible to working journalists and college kids, the cost reasonable. I had no idea. Neither did some of the fellow first-time visitors I met. (more…)