Dear Reporters, Please Stop Asking NBA Coaches Dumb-Shit Questions Like This
What is journalism in this day and age? It's a question lots of people are struggling with, as print newspapers continue their decline and hard-hitting reports are replaced by celebrity gossip and every website and blog report the same story over and over again in a different font. Another disconcerting aspect of the evolving (some might say disintegrating) industry: It's become acceptable, apparently, for reporters to ask non-questions of their subjects, expecting them to fill in the blanks and provide the soundbite needed to support an already decided-upon thesis.
Earlier this year, Bryan Curtis wrote about the terrible practice of reporters simply commanding coaches, players and other victims to "talk about" something, rather than framing their attempt to elicit information in the form of a question. The whole article worth a read but this bit says it all:
“Why are you actually interviewing this guy?” said John Sawatsky, who teaches the art of asking questions at ESPN. “You’re using him as a prop to get him to confirm your own hypothesis.”
We are reminded of this insight after hearing somebody actually ask Clippers head coach Doc Rivers last night, after his team lost Game 2, "How disappointing was it to lose this game?" It's not a "talk about" question, but it might as well be -- it's barely more than a hypothetical, and clearly just a ruse to get Doc Rivers to say "We were disappointed to lose this game," which could probably go in the second paragraph of a story about said game. Doc, however, ain't having it:
Reporters who have the opportunity to ask coaches questions after big games: Please don't waste it on dumb-shit, meaningless, terrible questions like this. It's an embarrassment to the whole post-game press conference practice. There are a million inanities that are better than this and can still get you the result you want: "How do you console your players after such a tough loss?" "Where is your team's morale after losing home-court advantage?" "What can you do to get back on track in San Antonio?" While none of these questions could be described as "important" or "not-totally obvious," they might at least provide more than the one word answer that the above question required.
Some members of the media want more access to players and coaches than what they already have. Clips like this don't do much to bolster that argument. If this is how we're filling the time already alloted to us, how will we react if we get to talk to players during actual game-play? "Blake, you just turned the ball over and now Patty Mills is at the line. Are you disappointed with yourself for screwing up?"
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