Unlike a number of people in the online world, I am rooting for the newspaper business. My childhood is filled with fond memories of laying on my living room floor and glancing at everything from box scores to local 35 and over tennis results. I've read entire sports pages from cover to cover off and on since age 9. I still enjoy the tactile sense in turning the pages of a newspaper and holding it in front of my face while occasionally reaching for my cup of coffee.
So, I feel a bit guilty admitting that I only take the Lexington Herald Leader on Sunday's now. Every other day, I pore through the relevant content online, including everything about Kentucky basketball and football, local high school football and everything written by John Clay, regardless of topic. Sundays are different. On Sunday, I like to kick back and party like its 1989, enjoying my old school media experience.
This morning reminded me that occasionally its good to devour the entire sports page rather than simply pick and choose articles to read online. Buried in the sometimes forgotten fine print was a tidbit that I'm sure is going to cause quite a fuss.On Sunday, the LHL runs an ordinarily innocuous feature entitles "What We Saw", with a series of tidbits about the past week. A gentleman named Franklin Renfro has the byline. I can find no other reference to Renfro on the LHL web site and an Internet search yields no indication of his connection to the paper other than writing a weekly set of four snarky nuggets. In a post headlined, Are we still having fun?, here is what Mr. Renfro had to say today.
Terrance Jones said he came back to UK because college was "just too fun" and, while that's refreshing, can it really be fun being an ugly ducking on a roster that considers a two-year wait to reach the NBA a jail sentence? Besides, in John Calipari's revolving-door recruiting strategy, it's bad for business.
In essence, Renfro, and by extension the Herald, managed to insult Jones, the rest of the roster, Coach Calipari and the program itself in one fell swoop. I was so surprised by the brazen negativity I reread the paragraph three times just to make sure I'd read it correctly. Not only did I read it correctly, but it it cannot really be taken in any other way than how it sounds. It sears the page.
We could all take issue with the accuracy of the sentiment Renfro expresses here. It is hard to imagine a guy who passed up the NBA lottery as an "ugly duckling" on any roster. How can a pre-season All American sophomore suiting up alongside the nation's best recruiting class really be bad for business? But that isn't really the point. To me, the more interesting issue is how Lexington's only local newspaper would allow a writer who isn't a big gun, or any kind of gun, to basically burn the house down on its most important (business-wise) beat.
To be clear, I support LHL's right to criticize the local team as long as it is editorializing a honestly feels compelled to do so. This just seemed strange considering the specific source and the overall harshness. Ultimately, this issue could end up not getting any play. If feelings do get hurt and backlash ensues, however, it could be very interesting. In particular, I wonder how established LHL writers like Clay and Jerry Tipton will feel about the two sentence riff.