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The Dinosaurs at the LA Times ?

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Looks like our emails concerning the lack of coverage by the LA Times on the commitment of Kevin Love got to LA Times columnist Bill Dwyre (who BTW is a ND alum). Dwyre's reaction is a doozy:

Many of the people who have been bringing you the news of a young basketball player named Kevin Love ought to be ashamed of themselves.

That includes websites, radio, TV and newspapers. A pox on their houses.

Love just finished his junior year of high school in Oregon. By all accounts, he is a wonderful player. He is several months away from the start of his senior season, but he had a news conference Tuesday to announce that he would play at UCLA.

That won't begin until the winter of 2007. His announcement is known as a "non-binding oral commitment."

In other words, until he signs a sheet of paper in November, he is bound to nothing and by nothing. Yet, by the reaction in many news outlets, it was time for UCLA to put another deck on Pauley Pavilion.

One newspaper even made it a top headline on the front of sports. And it was by no means the only practitioner of misguided excess. Websites waggled, broadcasts cackled and journalistic judgment gave way to lost perspective.

Yes, this was news. Yes, UCLA fans, and college basketball fans in general, had a right to know. And no, it was not worth more than the three paragraphs this paper gave it.
So basically Dwyre's main defense for LA Times not writing much on Kevin Love is that they don't want to give too much attention to college basketball recruiting because it is so infected by the sleazy influences of shoe companies. Well that's noble. But in writing up this morally righteous column Dwyre misses some key points.

First, Dwyre writes the Love commitment story did not deserve more than 3 paras. the paper spent on it. Well no one here was expecting the LA Times to write up a treatise on Kevin Love exploits as a high school phenom and what his commitment meant to UCLA basketball. However, it wouldn't have taken a treatise or more than 1-2 hours of work for a LA Times UCLA beat writer to write up what Dohn did reporting the signing, reporting that the commitment was UCLA basketball's most significant recruitment coup since the commitment of Baron Davis. A UCLA beat write wouldn't have exacerbated the sleazy environment around high school hoops dominated by shoe companies by commenting on the fact that Love's commitment was Howland's most significant recruiting get since he got Afflalo and Jordan to sign up with him as his first two recruits.

Second, what Dwyre effectively ignores and does not bother to mention is UCLA's fans concern how uneven LA Times is with regards to its coverage of UCLA and USC. Look at USC's sports section in the LA Times. Notice this story in the USC section of the LA Times:
St. John Bosco Point Guard Aims for an Early Start to His USC Career
From Times Staff Reports

July 11, 2006

Daniel Hackett, a 6-foot-5 senior guard at Bellflower St. John Bosco, is taking three classes this summer with the hope he can graduate from high school a year early and enroll at USC in September, his father, Rudy, said Monday.

"He wants to do it," said Rudy, who works for USC's basketball program as the strength and conditioning manager.
Uh so Dwyre is saying the LA Times has no problem writing more than 3 paras. on a point guard coming into USC who will probably be nothing more than a role player in a squad that didn't even make the NIT and zero basketball tradition, while it shouldn't spend more than 3 paras. on a story of a commitment of arguably the best high school basketball player in the country coming to the greatest basketball program of all time (which is experiencing a golden revival)? That just doesn't pass the smell test. Does it?

And this goes beyond Love. Not only didn't the LA Times did not provide justified coverage to the Love story it did not bother to mention Nikola Dragovic's upcoming arrival to UCLA. The omission of Dragovic's recruiting is even more glaring considering his arrival impacts this year's rotation and given the reports on him, his arrival is projected to have just as much impact on the UCLA basketball squad (in terms of adding depth to its rotation) as Hackett's possible arrival has on the USC team. So where is the balance? Do you think Times would have stayed silent if a major high profile impact recruit committed to the USC football team?

Third, Dwyre invokes the name of Coach Wooden in justifying why his paper did not cover the Love commitment story. While Dwyre writes how Coach thinks the current recruiting climate around high school/college hoops is getting out of control, he totally ignores this:
During a two-day titanic recruiting pitch, Love spent an hour with UCLA coaching legend John Wooden and received a full-court press from Bruins coach Ben Howland.
Yes, it was the Coach himself who got involved in the recruiting of Kevin Love and gave Coach Howland an invaluable assist (no doubt) in landing probably the most talented big men to come out since Bill Wilton (who also called Love with a pitch to come out to Westwood). So anyway you cut it this was an important story the LA Times simply missed out on reporting. And it is a little intellectually dishonest to say the least in bringing up the Coach's name in defense of this lack of coverage considering the Coach himself was involved in this process.

Again I understand the discomfort Dwyre may have the sleazy world of shoe companies and sports agents who often dominate the world of recruiting. But that's the reality of today's college sports. I mean if Dwyre is so concerned about the seedy world of college athletics perhaps he can explain to us why it took an out of town newspaper to bust open the Reggie Bush house gate story. If he is so concerned about athletes acting out of control then perhaps he can explain how come the LA Times has not written a single investigative piece on Frostee Rucker, a football player with a history of sexual assaults who was allowed to smoothly transfer into USC. Anyways, that's a whole other issue and whole other story to cover. What Dwyre misses the point is on is how the sports section of his newspaper - which holds itself out to be the newspaper of record for Southern California (if not for entire California or the West Coast) - totally failed to do its job on reporting major news coming out of one the icons in the American sports landscape - UCLA basketball. For that there is no excuse.

Dwyre's column of course has lit up the Bruin message boards in last 24hrs. Bruin fans are justifiably up in arms. But I think there is a way we can be balanced and reasonable about this. Of course I understand when folks say we should just stop subscribing to the LA Times. Who needs the MSM blah blah blah. I think we've got to be a little more sophisticated than that. I have no doubt Dwyre wrote this up because of the emails we generated from this blog. Well this our opportunity to possibly engage in a positive dialogue. Let's email him (again please be polite) back. Let's point out the arguments I set forth here showing how he is missing the point (and the big picture).

We don't want to get rid of the LA Times. We don't need to get rid of the old institutions within MSM. Far from it. All we want them to do is to do their job effectively. In this case, LA Times simply missed the boat on reporting a significant story concerning UCLA basketball. And in defense of this lack of coverage the Times representative simply comes across as someone who is just not aware of today's new media which is impacted by 12 hr news cycles, instant updates, online blogs, forums, which have created a whole different spectrum of information. Just let him know why we think he is off the mark. Send him an email today. It's pretty clear now that he is reading us. So let's take advantage of the opportunity and turn this negative into a positive for all of us. If we stay engaged sooner or later they will stop acting like dinosaurs in this world of new media.

GO BRUINS.