Do I Hear Glass Breaking?
What would happen if Brett Favre announced his retirement the same day Southeast Wisconsin got buried amid a 12 inch blizzard?
Which story would the electronic media lead with?
Favre would be a pretty good choice--his every move gets covered as if he were a head of state, and his recent ice cream store outing generated national headlines (and not one but TWO news releases from Governor Jim Doyle) as a Mississippi writer looked at Favre's Neapolitan-stained napkin and deduced that the Packers quarterback will be back in 2008.
The snow? Another good pick, since every two-inch dusting becomes a breathless lead story on t-v replete with reporters in front of salt piles and others dispatched to hardware stores where viewers are told that, shockingly, there's a run on ice melt.
Many a news director's head would explode on such a fate filled day--the only logical solution to the lead-story dilemma would be for Favre to hold his retirement news conference in a Milwaukee hardware store parking lot. There. Problem solved.
The Journal/Sentinel's Mike Nichols poked gentle fun at us Saturday morning, with a column taking the electronic media apart for our Packers' excesses. His whimsical tale of the coverage that a Favre burp would receive by t-v and radio is exaggerated but very funny in large part because, it's true.
I talked to a lot of my buds in the hours before the Seattle game, and, to a man, we all admitted that we were sick and tired of Packers stories, silly features about Cheddarhawks, seeing t-v reporters trying to do the Brett Favre Boogie. We were up to here with parody songs and self-promoters hoping for their 15 minutes of fame. But, we admitted, we absorbed it all.
That includes the page upon page of extended Packers coverage in Nichols' very own paper.
Yes, the Packers story is much, much too large to be handled in a single major metropolitan sports section. A tale this massive requires special sections, bonus coverage, additional web pages (available at a small fee to subscribers willing to pony up). In a world where we're still surging in Iraq, where the economy is threatening to tank, where a president is in the process of being elected, there's still a need to put Green Bay's exploits on page one--and, above the fold.
Yes, Mike, your paper does just what your electronic brethren are guilty of: Packers excess in the name of profit. Don't forget for a "kilosecond" (running back Brandon Jackson's unique measure of time, as reported in Sunday's Journal/Sentinel) that these are salad days for anyone covering the Packers. Everything we print and air gets gobbled up by you, the listening, viewing and reading public. All those eyes and ears can eagerly be delivered to anxious advertisers who may never be able to display their wares to crowds of this size ever again. At least, until the Brewers start their pennant drive next spring.
We're giving the people what they want--which any journalism professor will tell you is no way to run a news shop but any business manager will admit is job one when it comes to painting the books black. There's only so much airtime, though, and sometimes other things get shoved aside to make room for the guy who's shaved his dachshund and painted the poor pooch green and gold. The newspaper can add infinite special sections, and still do it's day to day job.
Enjoy the run--it has at least another week to go, as of this writing. Get set for more special reports, bonus coverage, silly features, painful parodies. And, remember why it's all happening. The Packers are winning, and all is well.
Let's just hope there isn't a blizzard for the next couple of weeks. I don't want my news director's head to burst. Nor do I want to see Favre twisting his ankle in an icy hardware store parking lot.