WHEN leagues like the NBA started airing press conferences via social media pages, I thought this would surely change the way print journalists work. I mean, what more can you offer through your stories for your audience when not only do they know what happened in the game, they now already have access to what they didn’t have before, the press conference.
Heck, if they pay much attention, they’d even realize how questions are framed and answers are used in the stories.
That’s a big issue today because of Naomi Osaka’s stand, which ultimately forced her to withdraw from the French Open. She said she’s dealing with mental health issues. That’s why she’s not comfortable with public speaking. I can sort of relate because in the past decade, I had a stretch where I was comfortable speaking publicly, lost it, gained it and lost it again.
As I expected, the pushback from the print media was strong and the other grand slams -- Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open -- warned her of a similar stance in their tournaments that may merit sanctions. I’m pretty sure those statements were made with some strong push from the print media.
But there has been another pushback of sorts, too, this time from those who support Osaka.
I just can imagine what those guys are telling each other. “If we allow her to do this, the others will follow suit.” By this, I mean bypassing the press conference --and the press -- to talk to the audience.
In case these guys have missed the memo, the others have been doing this long before Osaka did it. Tell me, when was the last time you heard something major in the world of sports that came via a press conference? For football fans, when was the last transfer or sacking that you know of that came via press conference? Or did you hear or read it yourself via the social media pages of your favorite clubs?
To be honest, when I was still on the field, I was never a fan of press conferences. I always hated it when, while talking to a source, he or she would say, “We’ll just announce the other details in the press con.”
I’d be thinking, “Duh, we’re talking now. You can announce it now.”
Sometimes, when I get a notice for a press conference, I’d call a source and try to wiggle out of him what the press con would be about to score a scoop or after the press con itself, I’d corner the source for a couple of questions the other reporters haven’t asked for a scoop. It’s a fun game to play, especially if you know the other reporters are also doing it.
But now it’s different. Guys in the print media should start to re-think their ways instead of hiding behind their friends the organizers to keep the status quo.
What do I mean? Well, once I tried to watch a live press con, to see how these guys and gals in the big stage work and I realized they are no different from us. Some are clueless; some act like they know it all and some are a total waste of airtime.
Why do you think the clips of media interaction by players that are shared are only a couple of minutes long? Because frankly, that’s how long these post-match press cons should last.