Thursday, March 20, 2008


The L.A. Daily News' article about Westwood One and the NCAA barring a UCLA student broadcaster from calling his own school's NCAA Tournament games really gives some ammo to the argument that our Canuck version of March Madness is a lot more fun.

Not to go Naomi Klein on everyone, but the optics of sandbagging an Internet-only radio station that tops out at 500 listeners are a little frightening. It also puts the lie to the tournament's big pull, which is that it brings everyone together. (That's from the N.Y. Times, which has been known to make up stuff.)

The outcry apparently did result in 22-year-old student broadcaster, Kyle Hyman, getting a credential. The point remains that it's wrong to push out the locals and students who cover teams in order to cater to the big shots. Everyone's catering to different audiences, so why shouldn't they be there?

"We're talking about a student activity -- a case where it's the students who are competing on the court, and you're taking an element of student participation out of the college athletic experience?" Hyman said. "How absurd. I find it utterly atrocious that money has taken the front seat over the student experience for the tournament." -- L.A. Daily News
Shame on Westwood One. (Granted, UCLA's graduation rate for basketball players takes some of the starch out of Hyman's self-righteousness about the "students who are competing on the court.") This isn't the first time nor will it be the last that the big, bad media giant strong-arms a student-run broadcast. They're worried about it taking away a few hundred listeners, but it's sad no one cared enough about what the student journalists bring to telling the story.

Contrast the NCAA's approach with how it was at the CIS Final 8 in Ottawa last weekend. (It gets tiresome to portray Canadian university sports as being so simion-pure, but this is going somewhere.)

The Score's broadcasters were right next to webcaster Streaming Sports Network Canada with Carleton student Mark Masters and blogger Mark Wacyk of calling most of the games. At the other end of press row, Carleton's CKCU 93.1 had the radio call. It meant people had options. What's the harm in that?

The presence of people from the student papers meant having people around who could share insights and information on the teams they'd covered all season with the pros who were late to the game. It was great; so was the fact Carleton SID David Kent, who made sure things were formal, but not to the point it felt rigid. Michael Grange from and Austin Kent from the Brock student paper could each have a one-on-one with one of the Badgers players after Sunday's final. People tend to give better quotes in a one-on-one than when they have the thousand-yard stare after being herded in front of a press scrum.

Similarly, it's been student journos -- Masters, plus Andrew Buchholz and Tyler King from Queen's, who have championed this site and helped it grow. Trying to restrict their access just seems short-sighted. The information is free. Who's going to endure is who has the best take. What does it say about Westwood One that they were afraid of a little Internet broadcast?

It's a hard lesson for UCLA student broadcaster (Tom Hoffarth, L.A. Daily News)

1 comment:

Tyler King said...

Excellent post. The one time I can think of something happening similar to that at Queen's was at homecoming last year - apparently the people from the Score who were televising the Gaels-Windsor game put the kibosh on Studio Q's attempt to film the game for highlights. Maybe/hopefully that policy has changed, especially given what you've said about the basketball championships.