Friday, February 27, 2009

Strong Personalities, Big Questions

UConn men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun explodes at "reporter" Ken Krayeske at press conference.

In case you aren't familiar with this story, you can check out the AP's account here.

When I first saw the video, entitled "Jim Calhoun Owns Reporter (Ken Krayeske)," my first reaction was, "Wrong time, wrong place. That reporter's getting reassigned." No self-respecting reporter would actually ask that kind of question at a press conference, for fear of losing everything that goes along with being on the UConn men's basketball beat (more thoughts on this here and here). But it turns out Krayeske isn't a mainstream news reporter. He's a blogger.

Ah, this changes everything.

David Borges, beat reporter for the New Haven Register, wrote a particularly scathing review on his blog, but was kind enough to include the transcript. He ended his entry:
Bottom line: there's a time and place to ask Calhoun questions about this. Leading off a postgame presser with this line of questioning isn't the time or the place, and rather comes across as simply a way to call attention to yourself in a loud and obnoxious way.
But that's the point, isn't it?

Krayeske is the sort of go-get-'em guy so essential to independent media. He's not afraid to ask hard questions or get arrested for his views. He started a conversation that otherwise would not have begun. He prodded the mainstream media into action.

The barrage of media coverage by the Hartford Courant alone is staggering.

And it's funny. Coverage has gone from "objective"/everyday:
Krayeske, 36, of Hartford, was arrested in 2007 and charged with breach of peace and interfering with an officer at Gov. M. Jode Rell's inaugural parade. The charges were later dropped.

The press conference continued without further incident.
to Jeff Jacobs' more objective analysis:
For years, The Courant has jousted with Calhoun and Auriemma on contracts and quantifying endorsement money.

Krayeske leaves me a little cold when he starts coming off like the only Woodward or Bernstein in Connecticut.

Having said that ... in the wake of Gov. M. Jodi Rell's request of a 5 percent across the board budget cut at state schools, I know of no journalist who has asked Calhoun or Auriemma about the merits of a pay cut. So bully for Krayeske. As big a pain as he can be, he keeps us honest.

I honor his agitation.
to analysis on the financial situation:
Around the country, teachers, elected officials, casino employees, state employees, even newspaper reporters and a university president, are giving up some pay these days. It's what happens when people are suffering.

It has nothing to do with whether you are a clerk at the DMV, a bank president or even the most successful college basketball coach in the country.
to calls for Calhoun to be disciplined in a letter from state legislators (.pdf):
His recent behavior was unacceptable and we request that the university take appropriate disciplinary action to reinforce the high ethical standards we have come to expect from our flagship institution.
He's really started something.

It's funny, in a way, because what Krayeske has essentially done is opened the door for mainstream media to start covering an issue that before would have been much more difficult taking into account the nature of beat reporting and papers' bottom-line interests.

But wait, the guy got in on photography credentials - should he have even asked the question?

If he hadn't, would we be discussing it now?

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