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Why are reporters in locker rooms anyway?

Jun 10, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

Press

Over at the Wall Street Journal today Craig Wolff writes about something I’ve been thinking about for a long time: what purpose, exactly, does it serve to have reporters in the locker room before and after games? Read the thinking-it-through parts of it all, which are good, but here’s the central question I think:

In the end, no matter what becomes of this American tradition, it’s probably time to start asking if all this standing around amounts to loitering and is worth the strain it puts on the relationship between press and players. It’s not clear that either side derives much from the transaction.

It used to be that the teams needed the local paper for publicity and stuff. That’s way less necessary now than it used to be, and in fact, the situation has reversed, with papers needing the team way more for circulation purposes.  But are the postgame quotes all that useful to the reader?  Wouldn’t the reporter’s face time be better spent trying to talk to athletes about more in-depth matters in feature stories?  Shouldn’t their gameday focus be more on the game itself, with their own analysis and insight — which in the case of most reporters is considerable because they’ve seen a lot of baseball — rather than transcribing the cliches?

Mark Feinsand of the Daily News is quoted in the article talking about how being in the locker room, despite the bad, empty quotes, is important for maintaining relationships, the sorts of which no doubt would lead to better feature stories like I’d like to see.  I get that.  It just seems to me that there’s gotta be a better way.

  1. spudchukar - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    And the players deserve a sanctuary.

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    The media has to remember that they have one major role…to be the eyes and ears of the FANS. When they are in the locker room, we are in the locker room vicariously. When I see video of a guy standing in the room being interviewed, I feel like I am there. They can never do away with this, I don’t care how much it inconveniences these prima donnas. They get some cooling down time before the media comes into the room. Be professionals, talk to the media, because they are there for one reason only…or at least they are supposed to be there for one reason only…us fans.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:15 PM

      Right, but what do you as a fan really want to know from those guys? Because for years, we’ve been getting the same cliches. Does it really enhance your experience as a fan to hear Ryan Howard say “I was looking for my pitch, and I got it?” Or to hear Halladay say “I just felt really good out there today and Chooch called a good game?”

      I don’t see how any of these interviews after games add anything to the party.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:18 PM

        Nah, it’s more of just seeing them. I don’t really care what they say. When they are in the locker room, with the uniform off, they are like me. They are human.

      • jamie54 - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:33 PM

        Agree wholeheartedly. For the most part could not care less what they say since now all we hear are the same old, same old. Adds nothing. You hear the clips on updates but don’t care at all since there’s usually no emotion, nothing of added value, just a clip for the sake of having one since…why? Because someone’s there, they’re getting paid to stick the microphone under someone’s nose, is that REALLY what fan wants to hear? A two sentence sound bite? Waste of time.

      • spudchukar - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:38 PM

        You Human?

      • garlicfriesandbaseball - Jun 10, 2011 at 1:22 PM

        I’ve never heard a question asked that I thought was important or even remotely entertaining. “How did you feel, what did you think” ….. adds nothing to the insight of the game. From a human interest standpoint, I would like to know what it was the umpire said to you that made you laugh out loud after a play, but those aren’t the questions that are asked.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jun 10, 2011 at 2:24 PM

        Form the standpoint of reading what they said, sure you can get rid of that. However, I love when the guy is standing there, with about 10 reporters around him, talking. It humanizes him. When Doc is on the mound, he is robot…machine…not human. When he is standing there, talking about things having to do with the game, it interests me. That’s why I watch the local Comcast Sportsrise over ESPN…they don’t do much of the live interviews from the locker rooms anymore. But tell me fellow philly people…how great is it when the reporters have Mr. Snyder cornered and he is talking about another crappy Flyers ending and saying things like “We need to address the goalie situation” as his face turns redder and redder. We wouldn’t get that without the reporters in the room.

    • JBerardi - Jun 10, 2011 at 8:31 PM

      “When they are in the locker room, we are in the locker room vicariously. When I see video of a guy standing in the room being interviewed, I feel like I am there… I don’t care how much it inconveniences these prima donnas.”

      If they’re such prima donnas, why do you want to spend time with them so badly?

  3. yankeesfanlen - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Actually, the day-to-day drudgery of hearing the same things over and over must be taxing on all involved. Even the celebrations now seemed contrived and made for media.
    So what’s left for a reporter is observation of interpersonal rivalries and silly gossip, which, while some deem it newsworthy, I find kind of bland and petty.

  4. halladaysbicepts - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    Locker Room interviews are goofy. Maybe they should have a press secretary briefing, sort of what they do at the White House. This will also deal with the female reporter in a male locker room issue.

    “Mr. Press Secretary, how was Roy Halladay feeling out there today?”

    “Roy felt great. He told me so after the game.”

    • jjschiller - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:32 PM

      *shouldt

      • halladaysbicepts - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:34 PM

        You are a joker! Go eat a bag of chips!

      • jjschiller - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:39 PM

        *chipts

      • halladaysbicepts - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:41 PM

        JJ “Shyster”

        You even a bigger douche for thumbing up your own comments.

    • jjschiller - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:45 PM

      *thumbt

    • JBerardi - Jun 10, 2011 at 8:35 PM

      First off, I was unaware that there WAS a “female reporter in a male locker room issue.” What year is this, again?

      Secondly, they HAVE a guy who acts as a press secretary. It’s an obscure position known as “manager”.

  5. theotherfamousamos - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    Shooing reporters out of the locker room is a bizarre concept for you to advocate, Craig. I’m a huge fan of this blog but don’t most of your posts come from … wait for it …articles written by so-called MSM writers who gather their material from locker rooms? Not all post-game quotes are cliches. Just because the majority of locker room post-game quotes constitute garbage doesn’t mean there isn’t value in having reporters talk to players, coaches, managers and the other assorted team employees who hang out in locker rooms.

    Your real complaints should be with (1) newspaper, web and TV editors who allow those sorts of cliches to be printed or aired and (2) reporters who can’t think of intelligent questions, which admittedly is difficult after covering 200+ games annually year after year.

    • paperlions - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:48 PM

      I don’t think this is true. Most topics seem to originate from press releases or from stories that are opinion pieces or from information released directly to the ether from the players. It isn’t like the locker room is the only place for reporters to talk to players, they have plenty of other places and times to interact with players. I’ve never understood why the locker room isn’t a sanctuary, nor why any comments made in the locker room couldn’t be made in some other place at some other time.

      • theotherfamousamos - Jun 10, 2011 at 1:03 PM

        I’m guessing the authors of this blog would disagree that most topics come from “press releases.” Granted, as you say, many topics come from “opinion pieces.” Many of these opinion pieces are often written by beat writers who have access to players in the clubhouse. And as far as the “information released directly to the ether from the players,” where do you think they do this releasing of said information? In the clubhouse.

  6. heffmessina - Jun 10, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    Craig didnt you kind of take the total opposite stance when Mark Cuban wrote about this?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 10, 2011 at 1:14 PM

      Not at all. I wrote that if I owned a media company that I would think that, for my reporters, “locker room access is not important or — if it comes with too many conditions from overly-controlling team personnel — even preferable.” I also wrote that if he barred access to the locker room it wouldn’t bother me a bit because that kind of access isn’t important to me or the kind of writing I do.

      My problem with Cuban was that his rationale for keeping web guys out of the locker room was a straw man argument in which he demonized internet reporting and made unfair distinctions between them and the traditional press. I noted that there was a financial interest in him doing so, but it was not the straight sort of thing discussed above (we cover you so fans are more interested). It was more about what the papers and TV stations could do for him on the business/advertising side.

  7. halladaysbicepts - Jun 10, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    Come to think of it, if we didn’t have locker room reporting, we would have been robbed of the Deion Sanders – Tin McCarver exchange…”Your a real man, Deion!”

  8. Old Gator - Jun 10, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    Frankly, I don’t understand why reporters aren’t all rowing slave galleys.

    • yankeesfanlen - Jun 10, 2011 at 2:14 PM

      It’s just another declining industry, they flipped a coin.

  9. royalsfaninfargo - Jun 10, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    It may be me but I have always found the idea of one group of guys standing around watching another group of guys getting dressed in a locker room a tad creepy.

  10. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Jun 10, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    Of course without any real quotes from the players, you guys can make up anything you want and tweet it. Granted most of the reporters in the locker room wouldn’t know a real story if one bit his leg off. A better question is why the heck do we have guys doing play by play on television? They are as useless as teats on a bull.

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