Sportsnet Magazine Review

Thought I’d do a review of the first issue of the Sportsnet Magazine. Hadn’t seen a review so started writing one. As I was putting it together the Toronto Sports Media blog put out one.

http://torontosportsmedia.com/sports-and-toronto/sportsnet-magazine-worth-a-read/11551

Ended up touching on almost everything in the magazine in quick detail. So check out that one as well.

If you read the blog you know I used to watch Sportsnet back in 2000-2005 era and slowly went away. On Twitter too you see I watch SportsCentre for the most part now.

Scott Moore came back to Rogers and things have gotten better. Believe it or not I had an interaction with Scott. This is going to take some time to explain. Since the magazine believes in ‘long form’ reporting, this kinds of fits.

Back in 2000-era, Sportsnet.ca had a Fan Forum. Message board that fans used, and also on air people would post too. Was years ago so it wasn’t like there was a 1000 messages a day.

I recall Jamie Campbell, Brad Fay and Jody Vance among others posting. One thread had viewers asking for advice and such about broadcasting. Scott Moore stopped by as well and responded from time to time. Once even gave out his email address too. As someone who was taking TV Broadcasting in college at the time I thought ‘I will file that away for future use’.

Cut to 2002 and I’m living in Toronto. Job posting came up for a Graphics/Font Operator at Sportsnet. Usual process of applying through the website. Rogers had just come into the picture. I thought why not try that email address I have of his and try and contact him directly. Website applications always seem so ‘clinical’ to me. You enter your information and you never have an interaction with anyone.

Now chance of someone responding to a ‘cold call’ might not be high. To his credit he responded even more than I thought. Today I don’t think this would work. Try and imagine how many emails he would get in 2011 compared to 2002.

Exchanged a few emails with him and even set up an interview time for the following week at Sportsnet. I would say cold calling doesn’t work 9 times out of 10. First day in Toronto I called up a production company to ask where to send a resume. Person answering said it was another phone number in the company. As I started to ask for that number she hung up on me….. nothing says “Welcome to Toronto” like that.

Somehow my email was the 1 time out of 10 it worked, to a certain extent. The bad news was Scott had to cancel the interview 3 days before it happened. Job had been filled internally by someone from CFMT/OMNI. He apologized and I understood how that happens with big companies during a switchover. Left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

Although was a big red flag to me about how the switch to Rogers was going. They went from CTV to a holding pattern while CRTC approval waited then to Rogers. If Scott didn’t know about an internal candidate going for a job that was posted on an external job site I though that was a bit weird. Especially since if he knew he would’ve been more guarded about giving a job interview, let alone schedule one with me. I looked at it like he also had the rug pulled out from under him. That was July/August 2002, following July he left the company.  Did I see a small sample of what was going on at the time? Possibly.

Friend of the blog, Jody Vance had a column about the 2000 Trade Deadline day which he was involved in. I remember this very well. In my 1st year of taking TV Brodcasting at Alongquin College in Ottawa. So I would be paying attention more than most about TV coverage. CTV Sportsnet beat TSN in the ratings that day. Which was a huge upset. Even sports radio in Ottawa talked about it the next morning, that TSN had lost to another channel.

http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Columnists/Vance/2009/03/02/8591921-sun.html

After Scott left Sportsnet, in my opinion, it started a slow slide. Best emphasised by having their anchors go without ties. Except, pretty much keeping the exact same format to Sportsnet Connected intact. Rather pointless. Anyone not watching TSN SportsCentre because Jay Onrait is wearing a tie? No.

In 2010 Moore came back to Rogers after a stint at CBC Sports. Which I thought was a good sign. From my personal dealing that one week with him and the feelings of others I’ve heard from. Here I was, a guy out of the blue who emails him and we almost had a job interview. Most probably would’ve hit DELETE.

That tangent took much longer to explain than I thought.

Back to current day, we have Sportsnet Magazine. ‘Rogers’ has been dropped from the Sportsnet name and a re-branding has been done. Radio, TV, print and the website. All except the Sportsnet iPhone/iPod touch app, as of today. Haven’t had an update yet so I’m thinking they will start from scratch with a rebuild on the app. Funny that between TSN, Sportsnet, CBC and The Score the latter is the one whose App I use the most and is most popular. During my Bruins run to the Cup when I wanted to check a score during the playoffs I went to Score Mobile.

I wasn’t sure about the magazine when I first heard about it. Memories of the first attempt at a Sportsnet Magazine that was an insert in Maclean’s. Strangely I am one of the only ones to remember it. I tried searching for articles about that first try and wasn’t much. I found this headline but to read the article I had to pay for it.

“Rogers keen on new ‘zine ; Media giant to add sports publication; Stable of writers already assembled” : Toronto Star, Chris Zelkovich, Nov 29, 2002

Don’t remember how long it was around for. Glad I didn’t imagine it and found proof though. You might remember a Sports Illustrated Canada. Which was a regular S.I. issue just with some added Canadian pages.

When it comes to the new magazine, it was well worth the money and on the whole quite good. Now there are growing pains with any first thing. I guest hosted an hour on CFRC in Feb. 2007.  Tribute to Ryan’s Fancy as Dermot O’Reilly had passed away. A pre-cursor to ‘Salt Water Music’ which began that May. Was a last minute decision to try the tribute show so I was short on time at the end. To fill the hour I played ‘Freebird’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Had nothing to do with the rest of the show but if you have 10 minutes of airtime to fill, ‘Freebird’ does the trick. Does show how any first attempt at a project has some kinks to work out.

Going through each article or page would take up too much time. Especially when the new issue will be out on Thursday. 114 pages in total. Quick thoughts on the first issue.

Many have said the bi-weekly schedule is bound to hurt in some areas. That is true in any weekly magazine or daily newspaper as well. I was at work the night of the earthquake in Japan earlier this year. Local paper came in and it wasn’t in it. Quake occured past the deadline. So any print media is affected by the ‘deadline problem’. I will say it wasn’t as pronounced as I thought it might be in the magazine.

One place they were stuck was the MLB Playoff Preview. To their credit they faced it head on. Mentioned the Wild Card race going down to the wire “good for the fans, not so good for magazine editors with Monday night deadlines”. The issue ended up coming out right after that crazy night with the Red Sox/Rays.

Key might be to just avoid having a cover that could date quickly. On Twitter I mentioned that this type of schedule would’ve led to a cover in June before Game 6 of the Finals saying ‘Canucks about to win the Cup’.  As a Bruins fan I have to tease Vancouver fans a bit.

Mark Spector’s piece on the Canucks is very well done. Pointing out how the diving of some of their players hurt their team in the Finals. And even gets two of the Canucks to admit that hurt them. Vancouver’s power play was great all season so that’s how they would get back at opponents by scoring on those opportunties. But having Lapierre and Burrows exaggerate bit them in the ass. Refs saw that and started keeping their whistle in their pockets. Coach Vigneault still denies the diving which he probably has to do. Players can tell the truth.

Kevin Bieska “There were a few instances of embellishment yes. It’s not emblematic of our team to dive around and embellish. But maybe at that point, we were frustrated.”

Henrik Sedin “I think we’ve grown as a team, and it needs to change. If I’m a referee, and I see guys do that kind of stuff…. I won’t say that anyone is a diver on our team. But we’ve got to stick to the game plan, and we can’t be thinking about what the referees are doing. That’s maybe what got away from us a little bit. But,” he adds, “that was in games where the game got out of hand.”

That’s the kind of stuff that is well worth buying a magazine to read.

With Rogers owning the Jays, going to get a bit of hyperbole about them. Keith Pelley wrote a column about the launch, “and we are learning to celebrate our heroes as we did with the Olympians, and as we did this season with Jose Bautista and our newest homegrown sensation, Brett Lawrie”. Whoa nelly, calm down. A team barely at .500 is not comparable to Olympians who won medals.

Stephen Brunt writes the last page of the magazine. Always enjoy Stephen’s writing and work on FAN590. Oh wait, Sportsnet Radio 590 THE FAN. TSN Radio just did the same thing by renaming sports radio stations in Montreal and Winnipeg this week.

Since Brunt spends part of the year in Newfoundland so he gets bonus points for that. Fellow fan of Hey Rosetta! too. In fact he was someone who helped a CBC live concert recording of the band done at Woody Point, Newfoundland a couple of years back. During this recording of ‘Epitaph’ I think you can hear Brunt’s laugh at the end. I’ve played it a few times on the radio show so I’ve heard the track many times.

http://dawn.cbcr3.com/blogs/0/1/newsletter/audio/Hey-Rosetta-Epitaph-CBC-Radio-3-Concert.mp3

Brunt’s first column is about how important hockey is in Canada. For a 1st issue I guess you have to mention hockey. Well written, although the importance of an Olympic Medal is blown out of proportion in general by the media. 1998 and 2004 Canada didn’t get a medal and there wasn’t a national depression. Stephen thinks it’s deeper than soccer is in England. I listened to a BBC call in show after each World Cup game England was involved in. They were more crazy than any hockey callers I’ve heard. After a draw a fan honestly said ‘I think they should just fly home and save us the embarrassment’. Even Leaf fans after losing 3 games of a playoff series wouldn’t say that. And soccer hooligans in England are common. They take their sports too seriously. Even in the US, a San Francisco Giants fan almost beaten to death by a Dodgers fan.  Pre-season game between 49ers-Raiders ended in a stabbing in a parking lot. Riots in Montreal and Vancouver are thankfully the exception to the rule in this country. Never heard of Flames/Oilers fan almost killing each other.

http://www.sportsnet.ca/magazine/2011/10/05/brunt_backpage_magazine/

Editor in Chief is Steve Maich who I found has a Twitter account. He replied and said he is a CFRC Alumni. Small world. I should ask him what he did at the station back in the day.  Another one to add to the long list of people from ‘the small but mighty CFRC’ as one host calls us. CBC’s Shelagh Rogers, TSN’s Chris Cuthbert, musician Matthew Barber. And people I’ve worked with Yahoo Sports blogger Neate Sager, CHED’s Matthew Bisson, Fort McMurray Oil Barrons play by play Tyler King, FOX Soccer Channel’s Julie Stewart Binks. Quite a lot for a small station.

http://twitter.com/#!/stevemaich

Derek Boogaard story is very in depth and worth reading. Others have talked about it more than I can. They also cover baseball and basketball so it’s not just hockey. NHL preview is just on the Canadian teams, as a Bruins fan I would’ve liked Canada + the Original Six myself. Although if you do that then other fans would complain. “Where is the preview of the Florida Panthers?” OK, I’m being silly with that one. You ever seen someone wearing a Panthers jersey in Canada? Be like seeing someone wearing a Kansas City Royals T-Shirt.

On the cover they have a small picture of a cheerleader in the corner. Which made me laugh since I can’t figure out why that was included. It’s so small I missed it when I bought the magazine.

I thought ‘Why bother when it’s so small?’ Even moreso when this is the article inside with the cheerleader.

‘Are You Smart Enough to Cheer’ and says what questions they are asked.  As for the one pictured, she’s Doug Flutie’s daughter. Would hope she’d find those questions easy. When it comes to a cover might as well go all out with cheerleaders, as evidenced by this mockup Sportsnet had done. ‘NFL preview issue’ with a line of them. That would jump out in the sports section.

http://www.designedgecanada.com/news/2011/20110819631.shtml

My sister likes sports and from reading SBNation and other blogs you see how many female fans there are who are really dedicated to their teams. As linked earlier in this piece, Jody Vance wrote a weekly column for a few years in a Toronto newspaper. This is where the print media can improve a lot, including the magazine.

No columns or big stories in the magazine written by women. Which is not a Rogers thing by any means. Canadian print media seems to be behind the times in general on that. Lot of sports anchors and reporters across the country are women. Why that hasnt’t translated to the written word is a debate for another time. Not to say there isn’t progress. Sportsnet Magazine has Shannon Proudfoot and Kristina Rutherford as staff writers. One writes the NHL previews of the Senators. Glad to see that.

Bob McCown’s Prime Time Sports was the one show I did watch on Sportsnet even when I switched to SportsCentre. Or I listen to the PTS podcasts. Bob does write for the magazine. Not a column, he answers emails from readers. Which could be interesting if he sticks with it. I was a regular reader of Fadoo.ca which was a website he launched, that lasted about a year.  So I will see how long Bob sticks with the writing for the magazine.

In conclusion, I would recommend Sportsnet magazine. Lot of content I didn’t even touch on so it takes a few days to read everything. One small thing they do is they posted tweets about the magazine on the bottom of a few pages. Positive and negative. So they can laugh at themselves. Which goes a long way. You don’t want to read something that is too stuffy.

After some critiques, it is time for a plug for a different part of Rogers Media. It makes sense.

October 17th Jody starts as one of the hosts of Breakfast Television on CITY-TV in Vancouver. So those in BC or with satellite can tune in starting at 5:30am-9am local time Monday to Friday. 8:30 EST. I’ve work midnights for 3 years so for the 99% of readers who think, ‘Wow, 5:30 is early’ I can say ‘No, it’s not. Try waking up at 9-10pm’.  And I worked all of the Thanksgiving long weekend which explains where I found time to write this massive post.

http://www.btvancouver.ca/

And I’m going to grab a quote from a press release. Since who it is from will come full circle to how this long post began.

http://www.broadcastermagazine.com/news/jody-vance-joins-breakfast-television-vancouver-as-co-host/1000610337/

“I have worked with Jody over the years and am thrilled to welcome her back to our family,” said Scott Moore, President of Broadcasting, Rogers Media Television. “She knows the city, she’s a journalist, a mom, a sports enthusiast, a cook and a pop culture junkie, and we’re confident that Vancouverites will enjoy starting their day with the new Breakfast Television team.”

Tried thinking of a way to wrap this up. Nothing came to mind, so thanks for reading almost 2800 words. 🙂

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