Wick Communications

Kobe speaks!

In Online media on 3 Dec 2015 at 2:54 pm

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This week, Kobe Bryant announced his retirement from basketball. He’s 78 years old and has been playing in the NBA for 74 years. OK, it feels that way to me.

Kobe didn’t hold a press conference. No ink-stained wretch broke the news. He did it on his own terms in the form of a free-form verse posted to something called The Players Tribune. Here it is.

Robert Frost, he is not.

I may have already mentioned The Tribune. It is apparently the brainchild of former New York Yankee great Derek Jeter. (Although I’m a bit skeptical, quite frankly. Others on the payroll are former ESPN The Magazine, SI and sports marketing firms. It’s that last group that makes you wonder a bit about the point of the exercise generally. Is it an elegant information platform from which athletes can muse on their own terms, or an opportunity to control the message and present professional athletes in the best, most financially astute, light? Or both? In fact, Bryant himself is a major investor in the site, further muddying the integrity of the site as a news source.)

“It’s a trusted place, a place where (athletes) can speak freely and not have to worry about how their words are twisted and turned,” Jeter told the Hollywood Reporter.

Hey, wait a minute. Isn’t twisting and turning the words of those beleaguered and misunderstood ballplayers our job?! What Jeter leaves out is that paid guns take those stories from athletes’ sometimes less-than eloquent mouths and turn them into the kind of polished writing you see on that site. Don’t be fooled. David Ortiz does not write like John Cheever.

The Players Tribune is the continuation of a trend and perhaps the height of the art form at the moment. Athletes, politicians, celebrities, business titans – everyone who has our interest is increasingly interested in controlling the message. And today’s technology gives them the means of production. Obviously, Bryant and Jeter are no longer victims of our printing press. They can be publishing barons too. …

Which brings me to my last thought. It’s a business idea. What if you offered local politicians in your community The Politicians Tribune? What if you offered to sit down with each of them and write the story they want written – in their words but with your skills as a writer? What if you made the offer to all of them and collected them on a niche publication or BLOX tab or somewhere. Maybe you even print it. In fact, that is even better because it lives as it is without those pesky commenters. Do you think you would have marketable concept?

I’m not suggesting for a minute that you abandon regular news coverage. This is something in addition to that coverage. What if you let them tell their story and you used your skills to help?

It’s something to think about.





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