As one who likes to be treated fairly, I feel it best to do likewise to a publication that I take to task more than any other, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (If you wonder why, I’m a journalist, UGA grad and Atlanta resident.)
I’ve decried the “home cooking” approach and “happy news” that I’ve seen a lot of recently. But in the 11/22/08 edition, sports columnist Mark Bradley has a refreshing interview with Georgia coach Mark Richt about the team’s 9-2 record and what many, include me, regard as a disappointing season.
Bradley queried Richt about key failures, such as a shaky defense, a precipitous fall from a preseason No. 1 ranking, and prospects for the future. This from a columnist that picked Georgia to go 11-1 before the season, despite a nightmarish schedule. (Read elsewhere in this blog about my thoughts on Bradley.)
Also, I enjoyed seeing the AJC finally acknowledge recently that Richt’s road record, as calculated by Georgia’s information staff, does not include his results against Florida. Under Richt, the Bulldogs are 2-5 vs. Florida, a game that is always played in Jacksonville, a neutral site. But it’s still NOT in Athens.
Methinks much of the “happy news” in the AJC recently has roots in basic economics. Like most other news outlets, the AJC has been losing subscribers and advertisers the past few years. It has gone through two rounds of buyouts in recent years and eliminated some suburban editions. So the pressure is there to pander to local readers, many of whom are Bulldog fans or aficionados of teams who play Georgia.
But integrity sells, too, and readers need to see coaches asked some tough questions. Particularly coaches who did nothing to downplay preseason No. 1 rankings. That’s part of why Richt, like other top college coaches, earns a seven-figure salary. The buck stops there.
As it does with a columnist, or a newspaper. At least now, I feel better about who I pay my subscription cost to.