Convicted Artist Magazine

Sep 26th
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boxing-journalismPeople of my generation have watched the gradual decline of broadcast journalism for many years.  I am only 39, so I never got to really enjoy the days of the Walter Cronkites, Edwin Newmans, and Clete Roberts's.  However, I remember a time when journalists were lauded and applauded for their integrity.  These were the journalists with credible sources that they would not reveal, or who got to break the stories themselves in well-written articles.

 Ahh, the good old days of broadcast journalism.  These were men (and women) who worked tirelessly to bring true stories, and presented them fairly yet critically.  Tabloid journalism was a clear line, and a huge jump away from these individuals, who seemed to be responsible only to themselves and the truth.  I know I am romanticizing them, but what I say about the clear line is true.  Like most other lines these days (professional vs. amateur, regular acting vs. porn, adulthood vs. childhood, etc.) the lines of journalism have been tremendously blurred.  

Nowadays in journalism, like in those other categories, everyone thinks they can do it.  It is an insult to those who are truly trained and capable, but in a world where everyone gets trophies, respect for others' accomplishments and abilities gets lost in the shuffle.  This is not a new phenomena, I am aware, but it has bled into too many areas of society.  This only becomes a true tragedy when it affects those who are also perfectly capable, and especially those who once had our respect.  When the seasoned journalist becomes the twitter rumor mill, it is truly depressing.  I can now officially say that has happened to boxing commentators.

Maybe we off-TV writers have largely been spared, but we will not be for long.  We are only spared because we are not paid as much (if at all) for our work, so we have the freedom to tell the truth.  However, as bad as Don King and Bob Arum have been in many aspects for boxing, when it comes to forcing journalists to toe a corporate line, they never seemed to get involved much.  The same cannot be said for Haymon and Golden Boy.  I watched my own credential pulled for criticizing GBP practices.

Haymon, too, has ruined TV boxing coverage by even buying out ESPN's once brutally honest coverage, and hijacking it into his rah-rah format, featuring unqualified commentators.  It is not just the new faces, however.  Even Teddy Atlas seems not to question as much as he once used to, since the PBC take over of ESPN.  That is truly sad.  However, these promoters are not alone.  The networks themselves are equally to blame.  HBO is probably the worst offender, as the house fighters are built up to a cringe-worthy degree.  Jim Lampley has always been known to get carried away about a fighter he admires, but in recent years it seems that the entire broadcast team has been pulled over to this nonsense.  

Terence Crawford and GGG are good enough fighters without the unquestioned ass-kissing that passes for coverage going on underneath the action.  It got to the point where their opponents' clean punches are sometimes flat out ignored.  We get it... they are great fighters, who no longer have to face anyone of note in order to be worshiped.  They also only have to fight twice a year, so we better build them up while we have the chance, so we can enjoy knocking them down.  Every now and then, Kellerman has an attack of conscience, but those moments are becoming too rare.

Don't get me started on the yes-men broadcasting on Spike, Tru, NBC, etc.  They seem to know even less about the sport than the casual fans, and almost never offer anything useful in the way of background, inside info, amusing anecdotes about the fighters, etc.  It's as if they showed up, put on a suit, and reduced themselves to simply talking about what we are all watching.  It's truly a shame.  I have been a commentator, and know how hard it is to avoid getting caught up in group think.  You need to resist it, though. The fans deserve better.  Do your job!

 What is that job?  Point out the strengths and weaknesses of the fighters.  Offer inside info, background, and history.  Encourage the viewers to do research on the fighters (i.e. boxrec, youtube, etc.)  Stop toe-ing the corporate line for 20 seconds and connect with the fans who are watching.  If you all do it together, there is unity, and they cannot fire all of you.  Thank goodness there is still Showtime, as Farhood and Bernstein may be nice guys, who don;'t ruffle a lot of feathers, but they are still honest.  You can be both.  I really hope we do not lose that, but sadly, it may already be gone.  

Chris Strait

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