Broadcaster fight! In the wake of a story here Monday, KARE newsman Allen Costantini goes after KSTP and new sports anchor Joe Schmit for allowing Schmit to keep pitching ads for Sun Country Airlines.
Costantini, unvarnished on his “KAREmudgeon” blog:
So, then comes a former sportscaster at a rival TV station. The guy was unceremoniously let go a few years ago. He survived by honest-to-God work and occasionally trading on his local celebrity. Fine. Now, the station that the late, great Steve Cannon used to call “the Boulevard of Broken Dreams” brings him back. In the meantime, he has become a big-time spokesperson for a non-broadcast high-profile company.
Will he dump that other gig to return to sports casting? Nope. The TV station has figured out that they can have their cake and theoretically swallow their “journalism”, too. So, he keeps the non-broadcast relationship gig and returns as the TV sports guy. Why? So, TV-land can pay him less and that outside gig can make up the difference. So admits the TV station.
OK, he doesn’t actually name Schmit, but it can’t be anyone else. Still, Vacation Joe isn’t the only unnamed TV newsman in Costantini’s gunsights. He continues:
Now, I know that “sports” is not “news”. The problem is: we (the media, the public) pretend that the Vikings fortunes are just as important as the State Budget. We have been led to think both are on an equal journalist plane. Sportscasters are just another kind of news reporter, right? Wrong. The history of sports coverage in broadcasting is one of taking free tickets, free meals, etc. from the people they cover! Imagine political reporters having dinner on the Democrats’ dime before covering the legislative session and you get the idea.
A former sports guy in this town, who now claims the title of newscaster, used to brag (in my presence) that he had never “paid” for a ticket as long as he had lived here! There’s something to be proud of, eh?
Fun! And in many cases, true (though I know the Timberwolves, for whom I did some freelancing, now charge the media for meals — though not the halftime cookies).
Though I love the seven-time-Emmy winner’s high standards, Costantini’s rhetoric is a bit embroidered; I don’t know many people who put TV sports guys, some of whom have long voiced ads in these parts, on an “equal journalist plane” with TV news guys, even the ones who engage in audience-stirring sensationalism. (This is not Costantini’s stock in trade, but such distortions are a bigger societal problem than “Champ” Kind getting a Happy Meal. It’s only ratings corruption, not source corruption. But I digress.)
Anyway, Allen, what’s with the wink-wink-say-no-more-say-no-more on the call-outs? I can think of two guys locally who fit your description, but I won’t name them here because it wouldn’t be fair. But if you’re so ethically gung-ho that you blanched at reading a sponsor ID in your radio days, nail the perp rather than casting the cloud of suspicion around some who may not deserve it.