If you are a subscriber to the Courier-Journal then you probably woke up to a sports front-page with a photoshop of UK basketball coach, John Calipari, being depicted as a crying baby. The picture was put in to go with C-J sports columnist, Tim Sullivan’s, piece on the Coach Cal’s comments about Duke head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, using his gig as the Team USA basketball coach to help on the recruiting trail. Syracuse head coach and assistant coach for Team USA, Jim Boeheim, fired back for his counterpart.
The main story here is the picture. The Courier-Journal has been long accused by UK media that they have a bias toward Kentucky’s bitter rival, the University of Louisville.
Really, this whole situation seems to be something blown out of proportion. I wouldn’t consider it news that one coach thinks another coach has an ‘unfair’ advantage, but considering the magnitude and level of the coaches involved it becomes news, especially here in the Bluegrass State. Calipari really doesn’t have the right to complain about coaches having advantages. He has all the advantages in the competitive world of college basketball. He lands the top recruits each and every year, major contracts with big time sponsors and major networks like ESPN, and just recently it was announced he is hosting the first ‘Pro Day’ in college basketball history. All of this means, his team gets much more national exposure than any other program in the nation.
Now back to the picture. Personally I think whoever did the photoshop for the picture did a really awesome job. It’s actually a pretty good picture but it’s meant for the Internet, say the world of Reddit or posted to Twitter. Not a newspaper. The sports page is one of the first places people look when their paper arrives at their doorstep every morning. Also, the city of Louisville is fairly split between Louisville and Kentucky fans, and I’m sure half of the C-J’s circulation goes out to UK fans. The question now becomes: Do you really want to piss off a great portion of your subscribers and risk losing the revenue? I don’t think so, because you’re a newspaper, and since 2008 newspapers have struggled. Many across the country have had to close their doors because they were no longer profitable in their cities and towns.
Advertisers could want to pull-out, too. The big money for newspapers comes from their advertisers and businesses in the Louisville area help out. These businesses could want to pull their ads because of the choices the C-J editors made to run the picture.
I said it earlier and I’ll say it again. I don’t think the C-J is biased toward Louisville, but I do think they tend to avoid negative stories about U of L. We would never see a picture of U of L men’s basketball coach, Rick Pitino, or football coach, Bobby Petrino, depicted in that light. In fact, if it had been Pitino that was upset instead of Coach Cal, I think the column from Sullivan has a completely different tone. It probably sticks up for Pitino, because the C-J won’t right negative stories about U of L.
Sullivan said on Twitter that he had nothing to do with the picture being run. That decision falls on the editor and he had no information of the image that was going to be used. Sullivan also tweeted that the image was out of line with what he wrote, and would like to negotiate veto power to keep this kind of thing from happening again. Kyle Tucker, UK beat writer for the Courier-Journal, apologized on Twitter to his followers for the judgment of his editors. He tweeted, “We messed up with that illustration today, guys. I’m not happy about it. I know you aren’t. We will do better.”