Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rob Neyer Likes the New Boss

On Monday, Rob King, ESPN.com's new honcho gave an interview for Sports Business Journal in which he said there'd be a lot fewer "I-think-I-feel" columns on the site going forward:

King wants his writers to think about how they are serving fans beyond writing what he calls “I-think-I-feel columns.”

“I looked at a lot of Web sites when the Michael Vick story broke, and they had an AP story with four people saying ‘I think, I feel,’” he said. “Isn’t it as important what the user thinks or feels? What are you doing to get that person closer to information that helps him or her figure out how they feel on this subject? … There’s only so much space for I-think-I-feel. After a while, it just becomes people yapping.”

Yesterday, Rob Neyer said this [link goes to Insider content] about reporters who conduct post-game interviews:

But I find myself accidentally watching a lot of these postgame interviews, and the interviewers can't seem to get through them without asking, usually first thing, a "feeling" question . . .So here's my question for you: Are those really the questions you want the "talent" to ask? I have this theory that TV people do a lot of things because they think it's what the audience wants or expects, even though the audience might want something quite different. I think the audience wants information rather than some obligatory profession of "feelings."

Having read Neyer for nearly a decade there is absolutely no question that such, um, feelings about feelings are genuine on his part and that the timing of this sentiment isn't an exercise in apple-polishing. Indeed, if there is anyone over at ESPN.com who is about getting readers "closer to information that helps him or her figure out how they feel on this subject," it's Rob.

One has to think that, of all of the writers at the WWL, Neyer will benefit the most by a move away from the I-think-I-feel yammering of talking heads and towards information delivery.

5 comments:

Pete Toms said...

I am a subscriber to SBJ but had not yet seen this interview with King ( I get SBJ old school, printed on paper and delivered via the mail, it can take awhile sometimes to get to Canada but I get so sick of reading online...)

I am solidly in the corner of King & Neyer, I too want information and like Neyer don't give a hoot about post game interviews.
We aren't typical fans though. A typical fan hasn't a clue who Maury Brown is or what SBJ is.

I do think the comments about social networking are interesting...again I don't "get" social networking, I'm 45 and have not one iota of interest in Facebook or My Space, but I do follow the attempts by the big media companies ( Disney/ESPN, Time Warner / SI ) to develop the first BIG sports / social networking site.

What is WWL?

Shyster said...

Pete -- WWL is the abbreviation for "World Wide Leader [in sports]," which is the nickname ESPN has given itself.

I'm 34, but I too feel too old for the networking thing. I've messed around with MySpace and feel like the concept is lost on me. Same with some of the sports/networking things that are out there like Ballhype and the like (love the ratings and links; couldn't care less about the networking functions).

I know I'm going to sound like a fogey for saying this, but email and the web has made the world go about as fast as I want it to go and has connected me about as much as I want to be connected.

And stay off my lawn, too!

Pete Toms said...

Thanks for the WWL clarification, I don't receive ESPN per se although the Cdn sportsnets broadcast some ESPN content.

During some winter evenings earlier this year I wasted some time on the Time Warner sports social networking site " Fan Nation " ( it wasn't part of SI yet, it was in it's infancy, I had read about it in SBJ ) and I didn't like it. It lead to some interesting email exchanges with Arthur Pincus (who was part of the team who started it ) but the conversations were what you would hear on sports talk radio ( so and so sucks, so and so is awesome, my team is awesome, your team blows...) and I got completely bored of it.

I also note that King mentions bumping up the amount of video on ESPN.com. I read this repeatedly, that the sports web sites all want to increase their video content. Again, my age is evident, I rarely watch video on the web, again I'm looking for info, but the generation that followed mine loves it....oh well. As you said "Keep off my lawn!"

Shyster said...

I think it's awesome that ESPN styles itself as the "Worldwide Leader," yet doesn't even penetrate into the capital city of the nation right next door.

Pete Toms said...

In fairness to Disney I suspect the cable operators in my country might have a difficult time with our Federal Government if they carried the WWL. We have our share, as do you folks south of our border, of protectionists who would strongly disapprove of the WWL competing against our homegrown sportnsets.

Having said that, my memory tells me that the WWL has a stake in one or both of our nationwide sportsnets.