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He’s not there: A little sports page hypocrisy

The Strib criticizes Fox Sports North for not leveling with viewers — right after the paper won an award for a story that didn’t level with readers.
By David Brauer

A few days ago, Star Tribune sportswriter Roman Augustoviz busted Fox Sports North for not telling viewers that its Gophers hockey announcing crew called a road series from FSN’s Minneapolis studio.

Wrote Augustoviz with disapproval: “Last season, they did a similar off-site broadcast when the Gophers traveled to Alaska Anchorage. Technically, this second effort was better but this time FSN never told viewers Mazzocco and Woog were not at the games.”

Fair point. But just a day earlier, the Strib bragged about bagging a national sportswriting award for a story with a similar level of concealment.

The prizewinner was longtime sportswriter Jerry Zgoda, for this piece on the Westminster Dog Show. As Mpls.St.Paul’s Brian Lambert noted last year, the Strib played the story as if Zgoda was on site when the winners were announced — when he was actually covering a Wolves game in New Jersey.

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As with FSN, no one lied — Zgoda conducted on-site interviews earlier in the day — but the whole truth was elided. It made his otherwise well-written feature look like a “game story” that wasn’t.

I don’t know if the fake frisson was what it took to get the piece played on 1A — much less entered in a national awards contest — but as with FSN, the Strib’s call represented an unfortunate breach of trust.