Hi, my name is Holly and I’m a screecher. Chances are that you’re one, too. Wear this label with pride because it indicates that you prefer to take what you see and analyze it before making your own independent decision – instead of accepting the constant spoon-feeding of sunshine and lollipops by the local Detroit media. Let’s throw in unicorns, too – they’re very trendy these days.
So from where did this moniker come? From the very media (and other figures who lurk in the shadows) who read and monitor the social media threads attached to each article.
Within the past two weeks, each coordinated to appear after a Tigers’ win, a flurry of articles – reading like PR releases – appeared in quick succession. Four in 2 days between 2 newspapers. And now during the All-Star break, and after a win, another 3.
Did these newspapers just happen to hit upon the same idea at the same time? Did multiple reporters just happen to select the same themes on the same days? The same tone, the same message, the same disparaging comments?
Coincidence? You know the answer to that one.
But these articles go one step further by insulting the fans and readers who dare break rank and say that the emperor has no clothes. Or at least believe that he’s only wearing boxer briefs.
Here’s just a brief sampling of the phrases used to describe the fans who are not 100% on board with the direction of this team just from 2 days last week:
– “the masses with fire and pitchforks”
– “swathed in abject negativity”
– “(they) continue to wallow in the wake of the losing streak”
– “no matter how dug in some of the fan base”
– “to appease a screaming portion of the fan base”
– “a multitude of screechers insist”
Yet, in these very same articles, here are the adjectives they use to describe Al Avila and Brad Ausmus:
– “in charge”
– “sensational” (my personal fave)
But they and their partners are just not going through the comment threads looking for topics to attack. They’re going through other media, too. Like blogs. Like Totally Tigers. One who has an uncanny pattern of directly addressing my social media comments and blog content within 24 hours in his own column. Another journalist who has blatantly swiped Kurt’s 20 (monthly) Thoughts and turned it into his 10 (monthly) Thoughts, even incorporating the same format, tone and writing style.
Ah, but before I digress…..
The ones who wrote these articles are rude, snide and condescending. And this is what blows my mind. What organizations out there allow their employees to insult their readers, their customers? Many of them who pay for this service? Many of whom they depend upon for their “clicks” that help generate income? In an industry that is bleeding readership and revenue?
If you’re from the Detroit area, or only read the local papers, you may have gotten used to this kind of treatment. Maybe even think it is normal. But I’m here to tell you it’s not.
I have lived on the East Coast for many years – first in Boston and for decades now, Washington, DC. And the journalists here behave very differently. No one within the Boston Red Sox or Washington Nationals organizations is safe from criticism. There are no sacred cows. Not a one.
Reporters call out anyone who is deserving. They ask thoughtful questions. And they treat their readers with respect while understanding that the fan base is very knowledgeable overall.
And they come across as professional and caring about the sport they cover. I personally know one of the lead journalists for the Nats who has described his profession’s need to be honest with the fans about what they see and to always report with integrity.
These are the same people who have called out the owner of the team, the Nats’ GM and the manager when warranted. Even Bryce Harper on occasion. Can you imagine the Detroit scribes criticizing the Tigers’ Teflon Trio? Or even Bryce’s equivalent – Miggy? Yeah, riiiiight…..
When Bryce Harper was caught half-heartedly jogging to first base, he was roundly criticized in the press. (Btw, he didn’t do that again.) Matt Williams, the rookie manager hired at the same time as Ausmus, came under regular scrutiny about his weaknesses and inability to successfully lead the team. GM Mike Rizzo’s moves and non-moves were analyzed for both the good and the bad. The media even ventured to speculate that if he didn’t meet certain goals, he would be gone at the end of the year.
The point is that the Washington readers, for the most part, are more likely to believe what they read. More likely to trust the opinions shared with them. More likely to see why the team is performing well – or not so well. There is very little difference between what the reporters see and the majority of the fan base.
And the ability of the media here to objectively highlight the successes and failures is one of the reasons why this team made sweeping changes back in the fall of 2015. A team that appeared to be the East Coast equivalent of the Tigers with an elderly owner, skyrocketing payroll, the regular presence of Scott Boras, a modus operandi of collecting free agents, a rookie manager with no experience, a bad bullpen and a team plagued by poorly-conditioned and often-injured players.
Simply put, the media can be a crucial element in inspiring a sports team to change. Conversely, white-washing reality only serves to perpetuate poor performance.
Consider what might have been over the past 10 years if some feet had been held to the fire – instead of being put on a pedestal.