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A Lesson in Unprofessional Journalism

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If you got paid to watch and write about a game, would you enjoy it? Better yet, would you be grateful for the opportunity? These are questions I have been pondering ever since the dog days of August when the Cleveland Indians were mired in a terrible slump that effectively ruined their season.

During that fateful stretch of time one Tribe game went into extra innings after an already lengthy affair that lasted past 1a.m. When this occurred, several reporters were caught on twitter making jokes about the game continuing on much longer and how they could be subjected to anymore bad baseball. Others tweeted about how they could not wait until all the baseball talk on twitter would be silenced because football season had begun. Suffice to say, I and others I follow on the social media forum were not amused.

Lately on nights when I don’t have to get up early the next morning for work I find myself staying up late at night for different reasons. Sometimes I read news articles and other interesting stories I did not have time to during the day. Other times I watch random video clips for nostalgia purposes or catch up on my DVR recordings.

A relative once suggested I stay up so late because I am always afraid I will miss something if I turn off my computer and go to bed. I am extremely inclined to agree. Wednesday night was a perfect example of such a time where I would miss something big if I turned off my computer.

This is the big week of winter meetings in Major League Baseball. All eyes in Cleveland, well diehard baseball fans’ eyes anyway, are on the Indians, hoping they make some kind of trade or acquisition that would positively benefit the organization for at least the upcoming season. My twitter feed has been abuzz as many of my fellow diehard fans I follow and reporters in the business discuss rumors of these potential deals.

One such deal suggests the Indians trading two-time all-star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to the Arizona Diamondbacks and receiving two prospects from the Diamondbacks in return. Evidently this potential deal does not sit well with one particular Indians beat reporter.

According to this writer the rumored trade would be an epic failure because all the Indians would be receiving in return would be two high ranking prospects. Shortly after midnight Wednesday night, a young man I follow who covered the Indians farm system this past season and sees the value in young prospects stepped in to debate the writer, citing multiple examples in which a deal such as the proposed has benefited both sides. The latter failed to see the point, stating that the young journalist “loves him some prospects” while he loves “real players.”

The debate snowballed and turned into an ugly situation. The writer in question got into another argument with another person who I do not follow. He launched a tirade of unprovoked offensive tweets, using vulgar language and name calling.

While I have seen this happen many times on my twitter timeline, this was completely different than anything I had witnessed before. Here a writer of 15 years, known by any diehard Cleveland Indians fan with a twitter account, resorted to mudslinging on a public forum when someone stepped in and disagreed with what he had to say.

These young men did nothing to deserve the treatment they received. All they did was attempt to show the writer a different side to a story that he immediately dismissed. His behavior was extremely unprofessional for a man of his status. Furthermore, the man’s job title and the name of the organization he writes for is clearly stated in his twitter bio. Anyone who witnessed his outrageous tweets could report him to his employer as well as spread the news like wildfire throughout the community and make the organization look bad.

Finally, this outburst, coupled with the reactions I mentioned at the beginning of this writing of other Cleveland reporters, sparked a discussion among me and other amateur writers. We see this type of behavior and are appalled. These people are being paid to watch and report on a game that we all love and respect. We would do their job for nothing. Yet they sit back and criticize and complain when they are “forced” to watch a game go into extra innings.

These people are living the dream young sports writers aspire to have. They know that and they take it for granted. Their egos become inflated when uneducated fans assume the truth from their reports and heap unwarranted praise. What the uneducated fans fail to realize is there is another perspective when it is not presented by reporters such as the one in question.

I understand the Cleveland Indians are a poorly run franchise and have been for several years now. No, they have not made any significant moves that would impact the team during the winter meetings despite being involved in many rumors. But that is no reason to assume the worst or completely dismiss any potential moves based on history. Rather, look at them from all sides and do some homework. Do your job.

That is what a true professional reporter does. He or she does the necessary research. If you want to complain, step away and let someone with a true passion for the game have an opportunity.


Written by apokorny

December 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Tribe Social Forum Review

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The Cleveland Indians PR department outdid itself again with the Tribe Social Forum

It is no secret that the Cleveland Indians baseball team is not a good one this season. Its public relations team, however, has been excellent. 

Social media has taken the world by storm over the course of about the last six years. What started as a small network restricted to college students has developed into a worldwide phenomenon. Now professional sports are becoming involved in social media. From front office executives all the way down to players, sports organizations are becoming involved in an effort to better connect with their fans. Perhaps none more so than the Cleveland Indians.

Many members of the Indians organization have been heavily active on Twitter this season, providing their followers with vital information ranging from daily team news all the way down to in-game updates. Their biggest development, however, was Tribe Social Deck, which allowed fans involved in social media to view an Indians game from a new perspective.

Last night the organization took another step toward social media immortality with the Tribe Social Forum, held in the Champions Suite of Progressive Field. For only $50, fans were given the opportunity to observe and participate in a question and answer session with a four member panel, overseen by Indians PR representatives, including vice president Bob DiBiasio, who served as mediator.

Current Tribe general manager and soon to be President Mark Shapiro began the forum with a short statement about the organization’s social media efforts and took questions of all types from the audience. He proclaimed that the team will continue to develop its already strong social media presence, stating that it is important to connect with fans.

Say what you will about Mark Shapiro. After hearing what he had to say last night, I strongly feel he understands the importance of connecting with the fans. Since the audience was not handpicked by the hosts and panel members, anybody could have come in off the streets and blasted Shapiro for the state the franchise. This fact alone shows that the Indians are willing to take risks to become connected with its paying customers at a greater level.

After Shapiro’s session concluded, Bob DiBiasio presented the four person panel with a series of questions regarding social media, both on a professional and personal level. The general consensus was that different levels of discretion should be used by social media users, depending on the purpose. For instance, those who use social media to search for a job should refrain from using disparaging remarks toward companies. Above all else, the importance of two-way communication was heavily stressed throughout the forum.

Once the forum (and the late afternoon rainstorm) concluded, those who attended the forum were invited to stay and watch the Indians take on the Los Angeles Angels from the Champions Suite at the stadium. They were treated to an “all you can eat” buffet, as well as dessert from the Terrace Club. In addition, public relations representatives Curtis Danburg and Rob Campbell (@tribetalk on Twitter) stayed at the suite for the duration of the game to socialize with the attendees. Bob DiBiasio himself also returned to the suite late in the game.

The highlights of my experience were having the opportunity to ask Mark Shapiro the only question he fielded pertaining to roster matters, having casual baseball discussions with DiBiasio, Campbell, and Danburg at various points throughout the game, and finally, exchanging high-fives with all three men in celebration as the Indians won the game in walk-off fashion.

After attending the Tribe Social Forum, as well as watching a game from the Tribe Social Deck earlier this season, I can only wonder what other pro sports organizations go to such lengths to connect with their fans on a deeper level like the Indians. The Cleveland Indians may be a team in a state of disarray at the moment. But while front office members continue their work to turn the franchise around, the public relations team is revolutionizing the social media aspect of professional sports.

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Written by apokorny

September 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Tribe Social Deck: Another First

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The Tribe Social Deck is the Cleveland Indians' new marketing feature this season.

When Twitter was first created, I couldn’t understand the use for it. It seemed to me it was just a different way of updating a Facebook status. Since I already had a Facebook account, I saw no reason to create one on Twitter. For the next three years, I laughed at and teased anyone who used Twitter. After stating my newly discovered interest in a public relations career last summer, I was introduced to the Cleveland Social Media Club. I quickly learned that most of the group’s members, many of them in PR, were on Twitter. As the next six months went by, I discussed the benefits of having a Twitter account with my new acquaintances and this past February I finally caved. I spent an afternoon trying to learning the ropes of Twitter, but it was another three months before I understood the majority of its features. I’m still trying to figure out the benefits, though last night I earned one of them: a pass to the Tribe Social Deck.

On opening day of the Cleveland Indians season, two of my acquaintances turned friends in the Social Media Club “tweeted” about being the first people to have passes to the new “Cleveland Indians Social Media Deck.” Being a lifelong baseball fan, my interest was definitely piqued. I learned that it was a new section at Progressive Field on the homerun porch to the right of the bleachers. It was targeted toward people like myself who use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. As the season continued, I began following any Indians-related Twitter names. In addition, a few more of my friends got to witness a game from the new Tribe Social Deck. With no idea how to get tickets to sit in this new section, I asked one of my friends about it and he gave me the e-mail address of Rob Campbell, the Indians’ public relations rep who oversees the section. Little did I know, I had been following him on Twitter all season long. After e-mailing Rob, he responded saying there would be an application on the Indians’ website soon, but he also asked me if there was a specific game I had in mind. I was stunned by that question. Was it really that easy to get into the Social Deck? I ended up meeting Rob at the last Social Media Club meeting and discussing it more with him. He explained the Tribe Social Deck is the first of its kind in all of professional sports. Tickets could not be bought for this section, rather obtained by filling out an application and proving to him that fans are worthy of sitting in a section dedicated to social media users. He told me to e-mail him when the homestand of the game I wanted to attend began. I suppose it was so easy for me because I had been following him on Twitter since the baseball season started and I pledged my loyalty to the Tribe relentlessly. Two weeks ago Rob confirmed two passes for me for last night’s game against the New York Mets, yet I had trouble finding a guest. Was it that nobody wanted to go to a game in the middle of the work week? Did everyone already have prior commitments? Or has everyone I know bailed on the Tribe because they aren’t playing well? Probably a combination of all three. Luckily I was able to find a guest in a family member at the last minute.

When we arrived at the Social Deck, I was pretty surprised right away. I expected the section to be like a VIP area with a locked gate or a security guard. Yet it seemed to be just like any other section, open to anyone but expecting an usher to check tickets for validation. From a view standpoint, I couldn’t see leftfield very well, but it was a closer view to the mound than where I usually sit in the bleachers. Also, what I would be missing on anything hit to left was fixed by the TV that was placed in the corner of the deck. There were also Wi-Fi access and power outlets for those who chose to bring computers to the game, but I chose not to, feeling it would be too distracting. The other people who had received passes to the Social Deck for that game arrived and the chatter began. On a side note, I really have seemed to come out of my shell since I started and then finished college. As a teenager I was extremely shy and unwilling to make any first moves talking to people. Over the years I learned to be more vocal and have developed into somewhat of a social butterfly, as my mom called me last week. So obviously had no trouble speaking with those with me on the Social Deck. I believe the relaxed atmosphere and common interest also helped move conversation along as well. When Rob arrived in the second inning, I and the other guests received another perk from the section, a packet of Tribe statistics the media receives and uses during the broadcasts. My eyes lit up at the sight as I used to create my own media packets for fun as a kid. I would do this by hand and reading magazines as this was before computers and the internet became popular. That media packet is an example of something I would love to do for a career. It is something I used to do and still would do for free I enjoy it so much. Naturally, two of the other guests started “tweeting” as the game continued, but having to pay for internet access on my phone and not having a computer, I could not. Luckily, this was not a prerequisite to sitting on the Tribe Social Deck.

Now, to a few game notes. The Indians took a decent early lead, but Justin Masterson was not as good as he had been his last three starts, giving up seven runs in seven innings. Travis Hafner hit his fourth homerun in the last six games. He really appears to be locked in right now. Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez, virtually knittable, gave up a two-run homer to Shelley Duncan in the ninth inning, but was able to hold on and close out the Tribe and give the Mets a 7-6 victory. Johan Santana, who had never beaten the Indians in his career before last night, rebounded from being roughed up early to pitch a decent game. Rookie Tribe shortstop Jason Donald was beat up all night long. He was the victim of many tough groundballs, a consequence from a sinker ball pitcher like Masterson. I have a great deal of respect for Donald after he hustled down the line to create the controversial call at the end of the “blown perfect game.” I really felt for the kid last night as he just could not catch a break and have a ball hit right to him. Each grounder was hit hard to either side of him and he finished the night with two errors and a few more wild throws. Mets third baseman David Wright is faster than I thought he was. Of his three hits last night, two of them were infield singles on hard hit groundballs.

Despite the Tribe’s second straight loss, my first time experiencing the Tribe Social Deck was a lot of fun and something I look forward to experiencing again. To any Tribe fans who use Social Media religiously, I strongly recommend applying for passes to this elite section of Progressive Field.

Credit for photo goes to