Monday, September 19, 2011

Axes To Grind

When I got back from the weekend I was almost astounded to read one of the headlines that was waiting in my Google reader:
"AK-46 had 20 goals last season, but too often fired blanks"
The positive energy of training camp, the freshness of a new season, the sudden flood of possible stories and a reporter comes up with this?

I can tell you, I didn't have to click on the link to know who had written it. The pot calling the kettle black (for Kostitsyn could probably respond about the reporters own season of stories in kind) was none other than the same guy who on hearing a report of Kostitsyn's quote in Belarus declared with immediate effect that he must go.

I wrote back then that it might do the guy some good to have a deeper look into things. But then I'd probably rather he set his priorities first on making sure to take a deeper look into ideas for stories or text to back up his inflammatory headlines before he dedicates too much time to stats crunching.

The story itself was pointless. It actually said nothing to back up the headline. Kostitsyn too often fired blanks, he said. The evidence? Didn't bother to include much -- a single sentence talking about goalless streaks for the 20 goal-man who played in 81 games (for those keeping track that means he couldn't have possibly scored in 61 games, the fact that some were back to back is hardly too surprising). The rambling piece instead re-reported news we'd heard a month before together with some re-hashed square peg quotes for the round hole premise.

I'd link the piece for you, but take my word for it, it's not really worth reading.

Besides, you're sure to read the same piece again and again from a multitude of sources by next Monday at the rate the grinding stone has been spinning.

A story missed

It's a shame too, because the blindness caused by grudge has left some real reporting by the wayside.

This morning I was surprised to see more links with the Kostitsyn name in my inbox. But this time, instead of the continuation of some bitter reporters agenda, it was a report on Andrei's brother Sergei and Ruslan Salei -- the training partner and mentor recently lost in the Yaroslavl air disaster.

Thinking about it and remembering the nonsensical questions that were asked of Andrei Kostitsyn on the day of a charity golf tournament, it today seems a shame that we don't have a reporter clued in enough to have asked the guy about the loss of a Belarussian teammate and mentor of his own. One must think that Andrei has thoughts on the matter as he like many friends of the tragically deceased players try to come to grips with the loss. What must he think of those who instead dwell on a newspaper report that they never read themselves?

Those of you that read this blog will know that it's no secret we like Kostitsyn. His skill tantalized us and we became early adopters as fans. I've often been puzzled by the dislike for the player who scores 20 goals in bunches like every 20 goalscorer must. But coming off last season, where Andrei improved his defensive play and took fewer penalties and largely took his assignments without a sulk and still looks top in many categories if you care to look into the stats, it felt like axes were being ground.

I would like to call for a better approach of reporting. I'd say put the axes away, but I don't mind strong opinions one way or the other, if I'm honest. I just feel I've had enough wasted clicks by big headlines that promise a meaty opinion and deliver lukewarm leftovers. High time to start backing up those big headlines.

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