For those of you who have followed my radio career since 1991, you know that I’m a patriotic fan of American sports and the Olympics always seems to capture my attention in at least some small way.
This year, with local hero Michael Phelps back in the daily consciousness, it makes sense that I’d be interested in a Baltimore guy who has already made plenty of history but is trying to nab these three medals to be the most decorated athlete in the history of the world.
He’s from Towson. WNST is in Towson. I’ve attended two parades in his honor. As I said on my Facebook page, he’s kinda a big deal around here.
On Saturday, I began my morning after the Opening Ceremonies at 4 a.m. Immediately, I saw live tweets coming Andrea Kramer and others from London regarding Michael Phelps being in the pool for heats. I turned on NBC before sunrise and watched some early morning pool action. Phelps wasn’t strong but made the finals and I was intrigued by a Lochte vs. Phelps showdown “later tonight.” I downloaded the NBC schedule and saw that the finals were actually happening around 1:30 p.m. our time. The website even has a “your time” vs. “London time” setting.
I literally built my day around watching Michael Phelps swim for a gold medal.
Sometime around 2 p.m. I realized that NBC’s main feed was strangely nowhere near a pool and was more in “female pitch” time, doing feel good pieces on the gymnastics team and showing the already-tired Youtube girls swim team video of “Call Me Maybe” for the fourth time. I thought maybe the schedule on the web was wrong.
Sometime around 2:20 p.m. I became a little suspicious and I had the audacity to open my laptop on Facebook and Twitter and found out within 20 seconds of the end of the race that Ryan Lochte had defeated Michael Phelps soundly.
Within minutes, the global assault on NBC – via #NBCFail — had begun and I was among the millions who were duped into thinking that the biggest sporting event of the day – held in the middle of a sports Saturday in America no less – would be suppressed and embargoed by the network that paid billions of dollars to have exclusive “live” coverage of the London Olympics.
What a strange, stupid decision the folks at NBC made – a mandate to embarrass virtually everyone associated with anything “news” for their whole company.
Then, keeping with the rank and file mandate of some NBC exec in New York, on the 6 p.m. newscast WBAL-TV opted to “pretend” that the race hadn’t happened yet, speaking of it in the future tense. They even did a live shot at Meadowbrook and asked the reporter to drum up “people can’t wait for the race” rhetoric when every 15-year old who swims at the club had known the result for four hours.
Just monumentally embarrassing, especially for a local television station that uses “Live, Local and Latebreaking” as a trite mantra to attract people with gray hair who still think news doesn’t happen until 6 p.m.
God bless Sarah Caldwell (who I like a lot) but if some suit in New York told me to do the nightly “news” and then asked me to stare into the camera with integrity and pretend I didn’t know who won four hours after it was over?
Does anyone over there have a brain?
Twenty minutes later an almost contrite Gerry Sandusky offered to give the result only after pleading the viewership to turn the station off for a few seconds if they didn’t want the result.
Where is Dan Joerres or someone on TV Hill to call “bullhockey” on these goofy local news embargoes, especially when the Baltimore local news leads without giving the Michael Phelps result on the network that had the live rights to it?
The equally corrupt jokers next door at WJZ-TV and the CBS Locals must’ve been howling with laughter in the newsroom.
It’s 2012. There’s this little thing called the internet that allows us to share information in a free society.
But this isn’t as much about the embarrassment of WBAL-TV – heck the AM 1090 radio side proved their mettle as a news organization back during the 2006 “Free The Birds” walkout when the audio broadcast was essentially a 75-minute chant without nary a word of a protest of the Orioles that day – it’s really amazing that anyone associated with NBC’s news operation would bless this style of “journalism” regarding sports.
I guess nothing shocks me anymore – at the local or national media level — especially when a bunch of suits in New York smell freshly printed green money without regard to the customers.
But who exactly are they trying to appeal to by withholding the live events and pretending that anyone would tune in at 9:40 p.m. to watch a swimming race that everyone in the world had access to the result of if they cared enough to care about who won the race more than seven hours earlier?
Yesterday NBC Sports got what it deserved – a failing grade and a 2012 new media spanking in real time called #NBCFail.
In 1968, it was called “Heidi.”
In 2012, it’s called trending.
When will these guys learn they’re not really in control of information anymore?
The world – from wars to storms, from swimming results to the corruption of corporate money in our society to guys dressed up as The Joker on shooting sprees in Aurora – goes on in real time.
Not in tape delay.