Monday, April 04, 2011

Burying the Lead?

Been a good deal of hand wringing over last weekend's George Washington versus Virginia baseball game.  I joined in on the opening round, noting that this isn't exactly the way you want to gain notoriety for your SID office or your program.

For those at may have missed it, Deadspin took issue with the fact that the Cavaliers' pitch threw a perfect game and it was down low in the story on the GW website.  Many SID types have commented about how this would not pass at their school.

I did reach out to GW, and they respectfully declined to comment. Ready to see it die down and go away they said, and one day later it had subsided as the media machine had moved on. In some ways, it is exactly what the good folks at GW said it was - no big deal.  Plenty of similar examples and why jump on this one.  That is the random nature of the Internet - you don't really know what is going to go viral.

With a road trip to NCAA gym, I took a little time to reflect - and allow GW to get back to me - and while some of the things I initially thought haven't changed, I do think this is worthy of a long post (yes, I know - too long).

My initial reaction was that story would not have been graded well in my PR for college sports class from back in 2008.

But as a writer, how different is what the SID did from being the play by play voice of the team.  The fans of GW expect their folks to be positive, but not ignore reality.

Is it the job of the GW media relations personnel to promote the success of the Virginia pitcher? No, that is the Cavlier SID, and the expectation of the GW website is to present their high points, which the story did.

This is the heart of the issue - is putting the detail of the perfect game low in the story ignoring it or simply burying the lead?  Was it a conscious decision or a last minute add once the details were available?

More in the next installment

No comments: