Bunker mentality

Fred Kalil, WXIA

Not shouting: Fred Kalil, WXIA

Sports reporting is supposed to be fun, right?  Of course it is. Unless you happen to be the Georgia Tech  Sports Information department.  In that case, you view sports reporters as the enemy.

It’s been that way for years.  And it’s a sharp contrast to the University of Georgia’s sports information folks.  At UGA, they’ve figured out that sports reporters show up largely to publicize (and to a great degree, glorify) the sports programs of that particular institution.  At North Avenue, the goal seems to be to restrict and deny access.

WXIA’s Fred Kalil posted this in his blog prior to Tech’s first game.  (Kalil doesn’t seem to grasp that in the blogosphere, ALL CAPS equals screaming.  It’s OK.  Kalil is old-school.  Wire service teletypes used to print broadcast copy in all caps.  So did TV folks, surmising that the larger ALL CAPS letters are easier to read on scripts.)

IT’S THE SAME OLD STORY AT GEORGIA TECH, WE TRY TO COVER THE TEAM AND THEY FIND MORE AND MORE WAYS TO KEEP US AWAY.  COACH PAUL JOHNSON REFUSES TO HAVE PLAYERS APPEAR AT THE WEEKLY MEDIA LUNCHEON, HE ONLY ALLOWS PLAYER INTERVIEWS AFTER PRACTICE…  IT’S FUNNY THAT AT GEORGIA, THE NUMBER 1 TEAM IN THE COUNTRY SEEMS TO ALWAYS GO THE EXTRA MILE TO ACCOMODATE THE MEDIA.  THEIR LONGTIME MEDIA RELATIONS DIRECTOR, NOW ASSOCIATE ATHLETICS DIRECTOR, CLAUDE FELTON GOES OUT OF HIS WAY TO MAKE THE PRESS FEEL WELCOME. IT SEEMS GEORGIA TECH JUST DOES THE OPPOSITE. TECH FANS PLEASE KNOW THAT WE ARE TRYING TO COVER YOUR TEAM.

Aside from restricting access to newsworthy players, Kalil complains that Tech won’t accomodate TV trucks, which need accessible temporary parking in order to set up live shots.

It’s unclear why Georgia Tech has adopted a routinely adversarial stance.  It may be a “familiarity breeds contempt” relationship with the Atlanta media, which has to make a 150 mile roundtrip to visit Athens.  Yet numerous metro Atlanta police departments and government agencies manage to sustain civil relations with their hometown media.

Georgia Tech is only hurting itself.  When it treats the media like the enemy, the suspicion automatically becomes mutual.  That means this:  If something controversial happens at the University of Georgia— and with frequent player arrests, it happens often— the UGA sports information folks can use a bank of accumulated good will to try to spin the story to say something other than “hang ’em high.”  Tech’s bank is always mostly empty.

Go Jackets.  Go figure.

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Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

14 thoughts on “Bunker mentality

  1. Barney

    Kalil,

    Go back and ride your tricycle, sissy-boy. Who are ya tryin’ to fool? The Atlanta media is a combination of UGA grads. Why spend the time?

    Matt Winklejohn amongst others has done a splendid job of reporting on the Jackets in the past. I can point all the way back to Furman Bisher’s access and coverage.

    Maybe your breath stinks, or you are rude and presupposing….. Take a Dale Carnegie course and by some Pepsodent.

    Barney

    Reply
  2. Wayne Guskind

    Fred,

    You answered the reason yourself! An ultra-corrupt program like UGA has to spread goodwill. Their “special admission” is at 94% for their football team.

    The whole system is corrupt! DUH! There is a reason why the USA is the only country in the UN Charter that uses and degrades it’s 4 and5-star academic institutions as semi-pro training grounds. No one is as stupid as us.

    Reply
  3. Joe

    You have TWO complaints, only one of which has to do with GT’s SID.

    1. You can’t find parking
    2. Paul Johnson only allows certain times for interviews.

    TECH IS UNWELCOMING TO MEDIA BECAUSE YOU CAN’T PARK ANYWHERE IN A SPACE-LIMITED CAMPUS. WHAT A GREAT ARGUMENT!

    Reply
  4. FinanceBuzz

    Thanks for the insight, Doug. I have long heard that Tech does not make it easy on the media. I do have to wonder if some of that is in reaction to the generally pro-UGA coverage typically found in the Atlanta media, but better embracing the media would be wise.

    As for Fred Kalil, I think the attack on him was uncalled for. A friend who is in the news business told me a long time ago that Fred leaned toward Tech. He is NOT a UGA alum but is from Indiana. Also, Randy Watters, a member of our own broadcast team works at WXIA, so bashing them makes no sense. My impression is that our coverage is the most fair from WXIA and if Fred has constructive criticism, rather than being defensive, perhaps we should consider it.

    Reply
  5. Matt

    Just a thought, but maybe if the Atlanta media tried to give Tech some resemblance of a fair shake once in a while, the SID might be more accommodating.

    Plus, as has been said many times, all you have to do is ask. Players are available after practice.

    Reply
  6. Ted

    Don’t take it personal, that’s the Tech culture. From the day I enrolled to the day I graduated from Tech every single employee at the school seemed to do everything possible to make my stay more difficult and my life more miserable. I chalked it up to character building.

    Reply
  7. locutus of borg

    Two examples of UGA public relations compared to Georgia Tech public relations as related to me by a friend in the news business:

    While awaiting the start of an informal a UGA press event featuring former coach Vince Dooley, my friend witnessed one of their PR guys whisper to Dooley the name of one of the radio reporters and the fact that he used to work in Macon. As Dooley walked up he said, “hi Bill. Good to see you. You used to work in Macon, didn’t you?” My friend says the radio guy beamed. Say what you want about he obviousness of that, it was a masterstroke of PR.

    Contrast that to what my friend said happened to him at Georgia Tech around the same time. Tech called a news conference at Bobby Dodd stadium but their PR people failed to tell campus police the media was coming. My friend says the police went “apoplectic” when they saw live trucks parking on the sidewalk. It took several minutes of frantic phone calls to clear everything up.

    None of this is meant as anything other than friendly constructive criticism to an excellent school. And Tech fans should also take note that they teach public relations at UGA. They teach rocket science (literally) at Georgia Tech.

    Reply
  8. DaySleepr

    Is Fred Kalil still insisting on typing in ALL CAPS? Doesn’t he get that what appropriate for one place might not be appropriate for another?

    Would you do in a church what you do in a bar? This is the internet, not a wire service teletype! In the internet, CAPS = SHOUTING.

    You all are just showing your complete lack of savvy by trying to apply ancient rules to a new medium. I hope old age treats you all well =)

    Reply
  9. rptrcub

    With UGA, it is logical that if you have a top-notch J/MC school with one of the highest-rated PR programs in the world, you’re going to know a thing or to about how to do PR.

    Reply
  10. Dean Buchan

    The idea that Georgia Tech treats sports reporters as the enemy could not less true.

    EVERY Georgia Tech player is available to the media after every practice during the preseason and following every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday practice on game week. Every player is also avaialable following games. That doesn’t happen everywhere. Instead of making a few or selected players available, Tech makes all 110 available.

    True, it is not always convenient for local TV. Players do not attend Paul Johnson’s weekly press conference, but with class, meetings and practice, it is important to give them at least a few minutes each day to be normal students. It is also true that parking is an issue on an urban campus and Tech has worked hard to try to make coming to the Flats as convenient as possible.

    On the day that Chan Gailey was fired as head coach, Tech made avaialble: Gailey, athletic director Dan Radakovich, interim coach Jon Tenuta and all of the players. On the day of the unfortunate and tragic death of a baseball player, the head coach and Radakovich were made available. That doesn’t sound like “Bunker Mentality”.

    Georgia Tech has never turned away legitimate media and has never turned away a TV vehicle.

    It is true that the Georgia sports information staff does a good job and that Claude Felton is one of the best in the business. But saying that Tech has an adversarial relationship with the local media is absurd.

    I can only comment on what has happened at Tech over the last 14 months. That’s how long I have been the director of media relations. Our staff has a great relationship, even friendships, with the overwhelming majority of media in Atlanta. Most of those media will let us know if they have an issue and we work hard to assist them.

    Reply
  11. edge770

    Agree with all.. Tech is a tough place to work. My question is has anyone brought this up to AD Radakovich? Dan seems to be more approachable than Dave Braine, and I would assume if someone brought the questions up they would be addressed. Oh by the way, the TV Trucks have good and reserved parking space. It’s not the most convenient, but it certainly exists and seems the out of towners take more advantage of this perk than the “homies”..

    Reply
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