Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Spinning the QB Situation

Over the past couple of days, The Plain Dealer has provided a textbook illustration of how a media outlet can spin a story in the direction of controversy and then watch as the rest of the media fans it into a full blown firestorm. I'm referring to the paper's coverage of remarks that Romeo Crennel made concerning Derek Anderson's future with the Browns, and how those comments have morphed into widespread media speculation that Anderson is on the trading block.

According to The Plain Dealer, Coach Crennel's Monday press conference was highlighted by his comments that the team might listen to offers for Derek Anderson. The Plain Dealer quotes Crennel as saying that "If anybody's interested in him, we'll just have to see how it goes.... Sometimes people can make you an offer and you can say, 'No, I think I'm going to stick with what I've got.' Sometimes they make you an offer and you say, 'Oooh!' So we'll see how it goes." Based on that comment, the story in yesterday's sports section breathlessly announced that "Browns will listen to offers for DA."

Given the economics and egos involved, I don't think anyone has ever doubted that an offseason trade of Anderson is a possibility, but the funny thing is, The Plain Dealer was the only paper in Northeast Ohio to spin Crennel's remarks in a way that suggests that a trade is in the offing. Most of the other reporters at the press conference reached the conclusion that Crennel wants Anderson to stay, and that Anderson is his starting QB going into camp next year.

The stories those papers published reflect this conclusion. For example, The Akron Beacon Journal's story on the press conference was headlined "Crennel Resisting Changes at the Helm," and observed that "more emphatically than ever, Browns coach Romeo Crennel said Monday he wants Derek Anderson as his starting quarterback." The Warren Tribune-Chronicle said pretty much the same thing, as did columnist Jeff Schudel in The Lorain Morning Journal and The Lake County News-Herald.

As usual, the most thoughtful assessment of the Browns' QB situation was provided by Steve Doerschuk of The Canton Repository, but the story that has captured the attention of the national media is the one that appeared in The Plain Dealer. ESPN picked up on The Plain Dealer's take, as did The Associated Press. Now, the story is pretty much everywhere.

In fairness to the media, the fact that a team is looking to trade a guy who just won 10 games and was named an alternate to the Pro Bowl is news -- the thing is, it's pretty clear from Crennel's remarks that the Browns aren't exactly looking to do that. In fact, it's fair to ask whether Romeo Crennel actually said anything new about Anderson's situation that should foster a view that the Browns are shopping him? Given all the speculation that has already taken place about Anderson's future with the club, isn't the real news to come out of the press conference the fact that the Browns organization's preference would be to stand pat on the QB front?

While that may be the real news, I guess the real news doesn't sell papers. Controversy does, and I guess the lesson is that if the team doesn't give the media enough controversy, the media will create it for them. No wonder Romeo Crennel reportedly ended the questioning on the QB situation at his press conference by telling the reporters present that "you guys are killing me."

Romeo, I've got a suspicion that you ain't seen nothin' yet.


Erik said...

Exhibit B:

The rumor that the Cavs were looking to trade Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden to the Bulls for Kirk Hinrich and Ben Wallace.

Apparently, Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune lifted this off a fan message board and decided to mention it in a column, and it took on a life of its own. Brian Windhorst has spend the past day or so telling everyone that he can't confirm anything involving a Cavs-Bulls deal.

Windhorst laid out all the reasons why that deal couldn't go down: Division rivals generally don't trade with each other, Wallace is under contract for more money and years than Hughes and Hinrich is only having a slightly better season than Hughes shooting the ball.

Not that any actual facts should get in the way of a good trade rumor. But after a while, it becomes like crying wolf. Internet and media saturation have made trade rumors are so commonplace that 99 percent of them can be dismissed as crap right out of the gate.

It gets to the point that I don't even get hyped on trade rumors anymore, no matter how cool they sound, because I know there is only a sliver of a chance that they are even based in reality, let alone going to lead to an actual trade.

Dawg Day Afternoon said...

Bud Shaw (his opinions, his writing, etc.) has become intolerable as of late. Bill Livingston has always been an unimaginative blowhard who writes at a community college level. And even Terry Pluto has more of a "shill" tone since he joined the Pee Dee.

What was the question again?