There’s been a short news cycle here about Bryce Harper, about his play, about his injury, about his ethic, over the last few days. Like bad Greek Drama, there have been complex twists and turns that make little sense.
Dan Steinberg has a piece today, linked above, that has an excellent summation of the silliness here, but there’s also a piece that affects me personally. Bob Carpenter, play by play guy for the Nationals at MASN, took umbrage at a question being asked by an unpaid intern with a publication during a press conference.
When I am at a game for We Love DC, I am unpaid. We Love DC continues to be a labor of love and occasional beer money, done for love of the subject. In my case, and I will posit in the case of Rachel and David, who write with me on baseball, it is for love of the game.
Each of the bloggers that have press credentials, from the four sites that have been granted status, have immense personal knowledge of the game, knowledge that comes from the passionate embrace of the sport. I think here especially of Patrick Reddington of Federal Baseball, Joe Drugan of The Nats Blog and Dave Nichols of District Sports Page, who care not just about the game, but about the craft of writing, of coverage, of detail, and of possibility.
It’s not an easy thing to write as much as they do about baseball, covering the minutiae of a waiver-wire trade after the deadline, or about the nuance of a lineup change, but they do it, and they do it very well. At We Love DC, we’re less about full coverage, and more about the big picture, enlivening our readers’ lives with some contextual baseball in the grand scale. We are columnists, as well as newsmakers.
But we have our place in that room, not just because we’ve earned it with the quality of our writing, but because it takes a diverse media corps to cover a team.
Do I ask a question of Matt Williams every night? Absolutely not. There are many pros in that room who make their living doing that, but they also get access to the players while we don’t, so I do ask a question now and again.
Should the interns get that privilege? This isn’t even a question, is it? The answer is an unqualified yes, and it’s something that Loverro, Carpenter, and others should know instinctively. Journalists come from somewhere. They aren’t born, they’re trained, and part of that training is asking questions of people in press conferences.
These are people who put together clippings books from their own experience to get an internship, which are often unpaid, and the best way to compensate them (aside from the monetary obvious) is with the opportunity to ask good questions, and get good answers.
Not every question is going to be a good one.
I remember, during Dibble’s dust-up with the public after a particularly egregious broadcast, getting challenged by MASN’s Ben Goessling after Riggleman’s press conference the following Sunday morning, wondering why I’d write what I wrote, then not saying anything when Riggleman said “I’m a woman, I can change my mind” during that morning’s event.
Part of being there is interacting with the people you’re covering, and the other people doing your job. It’s been a distinct pleasure to do so over the last few seasons with the Nationals.
You can’t create more Kilgores, more Wagners, more Zuckermans, without internship programs that give them access to the big leaguers that they’ll eventually have to cover. That means asking questions, that means getting answers, and that means being an adult and knowing what’s expected of you. You can’t just teach that in a classroom.
But Bob should know that. After all, he’s paid to be there, and that means we’re supposed to value his opinion above all else.
Except that Sternberg’s right, being paid is no guarantee of professional excellence, nor of consistently good judgment.
Remember, Loverro is The Onion cartoonist of sports writers…