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Broadcast Objectivity, A Pointless Endeavor?

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Broadcast Objectivity, A Pointless Endeavor?

Maliik Cooper, Reporter

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As a student in South Pointe High School’s Broadcast Journalism class, we are taught to always be objective in our writing and broadcasting. On Aug. 13, 2018, news broke that Los Angeles Clippers TV analyst Bruce Bowen had been let go by the team. His pseudo firing, comes in the aftermath of his controversial comments about Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard. Leonard played only 11 games last season, something he attributes to discomfort in his groin.

“I think there’s nothing but excuses going on,” Bowen said on SiriusXM NBA Radio when asked for his opinion of Leonard sitting out 85% of last season. “… You got $18 million this year, and you think that they’re trying to rush you? You’re the go-to guy, you’re the franchise, and you want to say that they didn’t have your best interest at heart? Are you kidding me?”

It’s clear Bowen feels strongly about Leonard sitting out, but no one believed the decision would lead to him losing his job. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before that exact outcome took place. Three days after news of his firing came out, Bowen was interviewed on the Dan Patrick Show about the Clippers letting him go.

“Because of your comments of Kawhi Leonard, we’ve decided to go a separate way,” Bowen said when describing how the Clippers explained his firing.

Bruce Bowen’s firing highlights a much larger issue plaguing the profession of local broadcasting: unnecessarily coddling players at the expense of people’s jobs. In the eyes of most, Bowen did nothing wrong when he gave his opinion of Kawhi Leonard sitting out most of last season. In fact, many agreed with his assessment. However, the Clippers are trying to land Kawhi Leonard this summer, when he becomes a free agent. To them, negative comments emanating from their organization about Kawhi could hurt their chances of signing him. So in retrospect, LA’s reasoning for the decision is clear. But by no means does it justify it.

Steve Stone is another example of someone who’s been fired purely because of their opinions. He famously criticized Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker and several of his players back in 2004. It wasn’t long after that when he decided to leave the organization, with the reason clearly being his comments. The Chicago White Sox picked him up first for their radio broadcast, and then for the television broadcast too.

Teams easily notice when their broadcasters are releasing negative statements about them on air, and they have a real issue with it. If you’re going to have longevity in your career, it’s clear that coddling your employer is a requirement, and opposing their philosophies is a recipe for disaster. An organization’s view of a good broadcaster is no longer what it once was, someone who objectively calls it how they see it. Now, cheerleading is part of your job description. While the job of an analyst is as the name suggests, what seems to matter more now is who’s writing your checks.

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Broadcast Objectivity, A Pointless Endeavor?