Jeter launches website to give a voice to athletes

By SCOTT LAMBERT// New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter didn’t spend a lot of time retired before he started a new career.

After a hall of fame baseball career that saw Jeter act cautiously around the press, Jeter announced he’s going to become a member of the Fourth Estate – at least the sports end of it. Jeter launched the Player’s Tribune, a web site dedicated to allowing athletes the chance to speak out in their own words, therefore bypassing the gatekeepers that are sports media. The masthead of the web site describes the aim of the site as:

“The Players’ Tribune aims to provide unique insight into the daily sports conversation and to publish first-person stories directly from athletes.” (site here)

Sterling’s trial press coverage turns right into left and left into right

By SCOTT LAMBERT// Weeks ago, lawyers for Jeffrey Sterling asked appeals courts to send his case back to the district court so his espionage trial could begin. As this happened, the press heated up its coverage of the coming trial and the future of both Sterling and reporter James Risen.

For the last couple of years reporters have concentrated on Risen’s refusal to disclose the source of his book chapter about a failed CIA plot directed at Iran. Stories are now starting to question the actual case against Sterling, who is accused by the government of providing the information to Risen.

What is surprising is that conservative pundits are defending President Obama for the espionage prosecution, while liberal pundits are criticizing him.

How the sports world turns, and the media turn

By SCOTT LAMBERT// It’s amazing to see how a single video of a man punching a woman in the face can change everyone’s perspective.

Months ago, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended for two games for punching his now wife, Janay Palmer, after a video showed up of Rice dragging her out of an elevator.

Some media members complained then about the NFL’s leniency toward physically abusing your future wife. But, the NFL rode out the storm, claiming that the police did little about the case, so why should they?

Anti-Israel Tweets lead to U. of Illinois changing hiring decision

By WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL// The University of Illinois’ last minute decision not to hire a controversial scholar because of his nasty, anti-Israeli tweets has led to a debate about the limits of academic freedom.

The American Indian studies department of the university had approved the tenured appointment of Steven G. Salaita. But that appointment was contingent on approval by the Board of Trustees and Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise decided over the summer not to submit the appointment to the board.

Homeward bound and over the top

By SCOTT LAMBERT / Media coverage of Lebron James’ decision to return to Cleveland was over the top, but that’s what sports media do. Sports reporters have a difficult job. They are often dismissed by “real” reporters as the people over in the toy room, not really doing real journalism, just reporting about games people play. They work in a world where many of the fans, especially in today’s world where press conferences are often available to fans via online stream, often have the same expertise as the reporters. Thus, sports journaists must always work hard to stay one step ahead of their audience.

LGBT issues in news cycles show media doing their job

Issues from the LGBT community permeated news cycles during the month of February. Missouri defensive end Michael Sam came out and is set to become the first openly gay player to play in the NFL. Media overwhelmingly supported Sam. The Texas Supreme Court struck down Texas’ gay marriage law – and, on the same day, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a law that would have allowed business owners and others protection should they be sued over refusing service because of religious reasons.