Unimpressed

I awoke Friday with thoughts of multiple gold medals, semi-final massacres and one 2:30 p.m. press conference I figured would be an instant highlight of my trip.

What I got was a pair of golds – though it SO could have been one more in curling – one drubbing, one nail-biter and one presser that left me completely dejected, embarrassed and questioning my career path altogether.

First of all, congratulations to Charles Hamelin for FINALLY getting off the snide and also to the rest of his relay team for helping him win a second gold in a matter of minutes, or so it seemed.

Congratulations to Cheryl Bernard for fighting off the competition – and a wicked cold – all week to pick up silver in women’s curling. We all thought you had the gold but no one can deny her rink’s unbelievable effort and determination throughout the event.

Congratulations to the U.S. and Canadian men’s hockey teams for reaching Sunday’s gold-medal game and for giving every person in North America the exact matchup they were hoping for.

But when I opened my eyes Friday morning with all of these events still to play out, the only thing I could think about was the Canadian women’s hockey press conference, which was set for mid-afternoon at the media centre.

It started out great; one nervous reporter broke any ice I was worried about when he asked his question to “Stephanie,” when none of the four girls were named anything even close to that. Then, I got up to ask a question I had pre-rehearsed.

I wanted to know if they had spoken before the game at all about the reverse-resemblance this tourney had to the Salt Lake Olympics, when the Americans had dominated leading up to their own Games but then lost the gold. Jennifer Botterill addressed my question and said they had definitely discussed it but felt they wouldn’t be in jeopardy of the same fate.

Guess they were right.

I wasn’t even back to my bag when I saw my phone light up with a text from a former classmate: “I just heard you ask that question on CTV!!” Well, I’m no broadcast junky, that’s for sure, but I have to admit I was kind of pumped to know I had made my national television debut and hadn’t come out looking like a tool in the process.

But as far as I’m concerned, the tools were just getting started.

The first time the question of the girls’ celebration tactics came up, one of them quickly gave an obviously prepared statement, complete with a public apology. As much as I felt the question was irrelevant in the first place, I was expecting it and so were they.

OK fine. To the gentleman who started it, you are off the hook. But as for the numerous so-called journalists, who simply couldn’t leave well enough alone and decided to pester them over and over again about their decision to smoke a cigar and have a drink, I’ll say what the girls should have said.

Screw off.

That’s not journalism and if it is, I don’t want anything to do with it. All they are proving is how lazy and inadequate they are as members of the media. These girls had just won a gold medal for their country, yet well over 50 per cent of their questions had nothing to do with hockey, let alone winning.

One reporter from a very well known media outlet, who I knew of before, actually came only to embarrass the girls and then he left completely. His question?

“Do you really believe your conduct after that game was setting a good example for other people?”

What’s that, dad? Do you really believe that well-respected company gave you a job requiring journalistic skills?

Media are not at press conferences to lecture people or show their own opinions. That’s what columns and blogs are for. If you happen to be the first one at the microphone and simply have to ask the question, you say “What is your reaction to the complaints coming in regarding your on-ice celebration?”

And then you sit down, shut up and listen to their response. Then you act like a real journalist instead of some sensationalism-chasing jackass and ask a question about their flippin’ sport, since that is what actually matters.

You don’t continue to repeat the same stupid questions rearranged with new words.

Should I be calling out my colleagues when I’m simply a freelancer, one year out of school, sporting a blog with only a few hundred readers? A budding yes-man with plans to be like everyone else and a hope he can hold down job security if he just chases negative crap for the next 30 years might want to hold back these opinions.

But I didn’t start this to blend in and I didn’t get into this business to be like everyone else. I got into this because I want to be a great writer one day.

However, if I have to become the kind of reporter everyone hates in order to do it then I think I’ll just stop now. Of course, I might just stick around a bit and see if I can’t be a royal pain in the ass for the lazy journalists instead.

Besides, it all worked out fine for Jerry McGuire. Enjoy the second-last Olympic day everyone!

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12 Responses to “Unimpressed”

  1. My favourite post yet, Scott. I’m thoroughly enjoying seeing the Olympics through your eyes. I agree whole heartedly that focussing on one moment of bad judgement when ignoring that our ladies just won gold in Canada’s sport is not only bad journalism, but is in really poor taste. And if you were simply a yes-man, first, you wouldn’t be you and second, you wouldn’t have the few hundred readers you have… Keep telling it like it is!

    • Thanks for the comments! I’m glad I’m not the only one, who can’t stand the way media act sometimes. I got into this business to be everything they are not. Glad to know that’s appreciated out there!

  2. Go team Scott! I don’t have to congratulate you on sticking to your guns because I know you always will. Proud of you! If this Olympics has taught me anything, it’s there are more bandwagon journalists out there than I like to think. Keep setting the example you young-whippersnapper-of-a-journalist!

  3. Good on you for keeping perspective. That said, beware of the slippery slope. You are enjoying access right now. You can get your friends into the media centre, you can go to hospitality suites, you can use your access to shake hands with athletes, and that’s great, but, that is the slippery slope you are walking on.
    That access is what keeps so many sports journalists in line. Get yourself to a Canucks game as media and watch all the journo’s eating and drinking for free. Once they have the access they are intoxicated, and addicted, and won’t do anything to jeopardize it.

    Also there is the joy of being independent. I totally agree with you with the behaviour of that journalist, but what if that was the story he was assigned? That was the angle he was told to get. Jobs are hard to come by why not just get the story assigned. Not saying that was the case, and not saying that’s an excuse, but that’s why these things happen. Also their are a lot of a bad journalists who just want face time and our remarkable asses.

    • Absolutely took all of that into consideration. My point was the delivery of the question and not the question in itself. I said how it should have been asked and I’m beyond positive I’m right. You don’t condescend people just because you have a microphone. If he was assigned the story then he should have come up with a professional way to ask it. And like I said, I get the necessity of the question but not the importance of its repetition. Does that access truly keep them in line? It sounds to me like the free stuff means as much to these guys as why they’re there in the first place, which is to cover an event. I don’t understand why I’m on a slippery slope because I realize all that access has nothing to do with Scott Schmidt and everything to do with my profession. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to meet some of the people I get to meet, as I’ve always been a huge sports fan. But I can’t imagine myself letting that get to my head, nor can imagine ever using that access to take cheap shots at people who don’t deserve them. By the way, I would love to get media access to a Canucks game….. Haha. But I felt I needed to say all of this in a blog because after taking all the reasons for it into consideration I still felt these reporters were out of line. I was there. I heard 17 different ways to ask the same question. That is not journalism. And I challenge every one of them to explain to me why it is. Thanks for the comments!! You make great points for sure.

  4. Should I be calling out my colleagues when I’m simply a freelancer, one year out of school, sporting a blog with a only a few hundred readers?

    Yes, you should.

  5. Whether you make it or not I know you’ll never compromise, man. It’s pretty much what makes you good at what you do.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Randy Nast Says:

    Just do what you do Scott rise above the sons of bitches and show them how it is done!

  7. Some mainstream journalists have decried the “party on ice” story as a non-starter hardly worth being considered as news. One Globe and Mail columnist suggested the Canadian women hockey players should have provided a middle-finger salute to their critics. The question at that press conference was definitely a leading one aimed at a specific type of response. That type of question has been going on for decades and isn’t likely to stop, partly because lots of regular folks are OK with responding without due consideration to all the facts. The Games were certainly splendid for athletic achievement and for sheer goodwill among spectators. They were also a time for creating audiences, building brands and establishing reputations. That’s what happens when a single event starts to seem like it’s the epicentre for all things important. Hyperbole reigns. Then the event ends and, funny, the world continues to spin. Is the “party on ice” still a story? It’s disappeared. The feds have upped their financial support for elite athletics in Canada and no one seems bothered anymore about the beer drinking and cigar smoking. The Crosby goal was a magic moment. So, too, were a dozen other scenes. But, in time, most of them will disappear. That’s how it works. As for all those pundits who say Crosby’s goal and Canada’s Olympic performance marked a new level of Canadian patriotism in the nation’s history, well, there’s some hyperbole right there. A little check in the history books will show that VE Day at the end of the Second World War had a lot more impact on Canadians than probably any other event since 1867.

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