Friday, August 20, 2010

Perdue chides AJC for... not writing about little league softball champs

Posted By on Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 5:07 PM

  • CL File/Joeff Davis
He prayed for rain and now he's bellyaching over Little League softball. Georgia's governor has his priorities.

Gov. Sonny Perdue today submitted an op-ed to media outlets in which he describes his immense displeasure with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His gripe wasn't over some expose involving the governor's myriad land deals he's conducted while in office. Or about bias in an article about some political race.

No, the state's chief executive was none too pleased that a Warner Robbins team's Little League Softball World Series win didn't merit an in-depth article from the paper.

While the state's largest daily publication dedicated space in its Thursday edition to stories about the Pan-Pacific swim meet, Brett Favre's never-ending career decisions, and crappy out-of-state football teams, it only printed 39 words about the softball team's achievement. This act of journalistic malfeasance provided an excellent case study, Perdue wrote, for "why newspapers are losing subscribers in droves."

We can understand the soft spot Perdue has in his heart for little leaguers. And the team deserves recognition for the accomplishment.

Reading this op-ed, which we've pasted in full after the jump, you'd never know cars and trucks waste hours sitting in gridlock — and will most likely continue to do that for several years. You'd have no clue the metro region's main source of drinking water — the most precious resource for the economic engine of the state — depends on the governor's virtually non-existent negotiations with his Alabama and Florida counterparts. Counterparts, mind you, that have the upper hand in the discussions. Or that our capital city's school system was reeling from a cheating scandal. A cheating scandal uncovered, keep in mind, by the newspaper the governor scolded.

In other words, there are more pressing issues about which the governor could inform the state.

Little League Champs Deserve More Coverage

If anyone still wonders why newspapers are losing subscribers in droves, Thursday’s AJC provided another case study.

Thursday morning I found myself in an unusual position. Even though my picture was splashed across the front page, I skipped straight to the AJC’s Sports section eager to read the coverage of Georgia’s back-to-back Little League Softball World Series champions. Unfortunately, it didn’t take me very long to read the one sentence, 39-word, description of this fantastic accomplishment. As I flipped through the pages, I noticed the paper found plenty of space for a story on the Pan-Pacific swim meet and an article on the never-ending saga of Brett Favre’s indecisive future. They also had a lengthy write-up on a trade between the Seattle Seahawks and the Detroit Lions, two teams that went a combined 7-25 last year.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think most Georgians would rather read about the true heart-warming success stories coming from towns within our state’s borders. However, unless you scoured your AJC with a microscope, most readers probably missed this great news. Let me put this in perspective for you — the entire world had a chance to watch this game in a two-and-a-half-hour broadcast on ESPN2, but the AJC devoted only one sentence, 39 words long, in the Sports section to this incredible feat. Moreover, had my office not put the game on the paper’s radar screen, I doubt they would have even given Georgia’s only reigning world champions that measly sentence.

As a grandfather to six girls, including two softball players, I’ve also noticed a disheartening double-standard in the coverage of Little League Baseball and Little League Softball. Last year when Georgia’s boys’ team lost a heartbreaker in the semi-finals, the AJC devoted 529 words to the loss from a staff reporter. When the girls’ team won that very same year, the championship game received a mere 140 word write-up, and half of that story was built around the bet I made with President George W. Bush over the outcome of the game. There was even a story today previewing the Columbus Northern boys starting play tomorrow in the baseball World Series. Total coverage of the girls’ run to the championship still remains at one, 39-word sentence.

As a former little leaguer I know that the lessons of teamwork, perseverance and learning how to win and lose gracefully are just a few of the things young boys and girls take with them for the rest of their lives. In an age where professional athletes have hour-long TV specials to announce where they are going to earn their next nine-figure pay check, little leaguers play with an innocent joy, the pride of representing their town, state and region, and for the love of the game.

These are the stories that we want to read. All Georgians — our world-champions, parents, brothers, friends and sports fans — deserve better from the state’s largest paper.

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