A powder keg is brewing amongst Flyers scriptuals. It has been for some time now.
As you are undoubtedly aware if you read this site often enough, many Flyers beat writers are among the laziest, most unimaginative and out-of-touch in the business. Really, if there’s a better example of why old school media is dying, I haven’t found it. From hilariously misunderstanding social media, to lazily tweeting game notes from a Canadian dinner party, to complaining about me, the core group of Flyers beat writers – Tim Panaccio, Sam Carchidi, Rob Parent,
Randy Miller and Dave Isaac – are making themselves look bad at every turn. It’s become my favorite sports story of the year.
And what’s more fun is when ineptitude and misguided group-think combine with irony and pure disdain for a peer.
According to a Flyers source: Yesterday, The Core Four, as I will now call them, had a flight from Ft. Lauderdale (Miami area), where the Flyers played on Monday night, to Tampa, where they will play tonight (Wednesday). Southwest 913 was scheduled for a 10:35 a.m. departure and an 11:40 a.m. arrival. I’ve flown this route, on Southwest (with the worst turbulence I’ve ever encountered– I thought I was going to die), and can tell you that it’s not that long of a flight. It’s more like 45 minutes in the air, tops. But still, one shouldn’t expect to be at the gate with luggage in-hand until at least the arrival time.
The Flyers typically practice and have media availability sometime between 10 a.m. and noon on non-gamedays. Yesterday, their practice had been scheduled for a later 1 p.m. start time and Vincent Lecavalier, who is returning to Tampa for the first time, was to speak with the local media at noon, meaning that it would’ve been damn near impossible for The Core Four to make it, seeing as though they would’ve been on a plane as little as 20 minutes earlier.
At the last moment, things got moved up an hour– practice at noon, Vinny at 11. Obviously, The Core Four missed both. Their flight wound up arriving late (surprise!), at 12:19 p.m., right around when the story of the day, Vinny himself, was finishing up with the media.
What to do?
The only Philadelphia-based reporters who actually made it were Frank Seravalli, Wayne Fish, and Anthony SanFilippo, the Flyers’ team reporter. Seravalli and SanFilippo caught an earlier flight, and Fish, impressively, drove across Florida overnight (did I ever tell you I’m glad I’m not a beat writer?). They had the upper-hand on The Core Four, who, because they booked convenient flights over the summer, were forced to request audio of the press conference from the Flyers. Seravalli protested, the source said, claiming that they shouldn’t be given the courtesy since he and other members of press went the extra mile to get there in time. The Daily News doesn’t print on Thursday, so Seravalli literally only flew to Tampa to speak to Lecavalier. He’s not covering the game tonight.
I’ll be the first to tell you that, unless a specific question needs to be asked, transcriptions of a press conference will do, and that the cost-benefit of flying to a lone press conference doesn’t make the most business sense. But I can totally understand why someone who made the effort to get there would be pissed to find out that his or her work was mostly for naught and that the competitive advantage was lost.
The Core Four seemingly hates Seravalli. As we discussed yesterday, they believe if they all stick together, all share the same quotes, all bring you the exact same story, that all of their jobs will be safe. It’s a self-preservation thing, me thinks, more than a good journalism thing. It’s why the Flyers beat group may be the worst in sports.
Needless to say, they were outraged when they found out that someone who made it to Tampa successfully protested (at least temporarily) and convinced the Flyers’ PR staff to not spoon-feed them the audio so they can have their story for the day. The irony, of course, is thick, meaty and delicious, because this is the same group that gets so outraged when the Flyers release information directly to fans or, say, bloggers. They hate that sort of thing, dagnabbit! Journalism is under fire, right Dave?
The Core Four, who never made it to the Flyers’ practice yesterday, headed straight to their Tampa hotel… where they held an unofficial meeting of the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. By the pool. That’s where they lodged some sort of official or unofficial (doesn’t matter, because everyone was laughing at them) complaint with the Flyers. And it’s also where they called Seravalli, cursed him out for being unethical and immature by breaking free from the ranks to, I don’t know, get an original story or something.
Let me repeat that: THE CORE FOUR TOOK A LATE FLIGHT, MISSED AN IMPORTANT PRESS CONFERENCE, HEADED TO THEIR HOTEL POOL, AND CALLED THE FLYERS AND SERAVALLI TO BITCH ABOUT NOT BEING GIVEN THE AUDIO OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE.
They eventually got the transcription, and in reading their stories today, you’d almost think they were actually in Tampa, talking to Vinny.
[All of these articles came with the dateline "TAMPA, Fla.” "A hotel pool somewhere in downtown Tampa, Fla.” just doesn’t come with the same legitimacy, I guess.]
A hero and captain with Tampa Bay, Lecavalier and the Flyers (10-11-2) will face the Lightning (15-8-1) Wednesday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.”
One of the first things I looked at when we got the schedule this year was, ‘When do we go to Tampa?’ ” Lecavalier told reporters before the Flyers’ practice on Tuesday. “It’s definitely going to be very weird . . . to actually play against the Lightning. It’s going to be a special night and I’m really excited about it.”
Told reporters is a little trick reporters use when they miss something or don’t obtain the quotes directly from a peer.
Panaccio: Well, he just posted a transcript of the press conference. That was his workday yesterday.
Isaac– to his credit, he mostly avoided writing about the press conference he didn’t attend:
Although he made financial contributions prior, Lecavalier officially launched the Vincent Lecavalier Foundation in December 2005 to benefit local children’s hospitals and juvenile cancer patients. In 2007, he pledged $3 million to build the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children’s Hospital.
“I got an email yesterday saying one of the girls is another year away from remission,” Lecavalier told reporters. “It’s nice to still get news, even though I’m in Philly, to get news that kids battle through so many things.”
And Parent, the most egregious offender, who – ballsily – SET THE SCENE FOR THE PRESS CONFERENCE HE WASN’T AT:
The press conference was running long Tuesday, Vinny Lecavalier saying many of the same things he’d said the previous day in South Florida about returning to his longtime adopted home by the Bay, and speculating on what it would be like going on the ice Wednesday night to face his old Lightning team.
It was about then that a question about Lecavalier’s ongoing charitable efforts in the area came up, focusing not only on his foundation but the institution that one day should serve as his legacy.
This is why I pick on those guys all the time. None of them want to get, or care about getting, an exclusive or unique story. They travel in a pack (literally), write the same things, tweet the same things, use the same quotes, and, basically, just do their best to maintain the status quo. They hate blogs (obvi) and they hate those like Seravalli who show just the slightest bit of initiative to go the extra mile and do something… different. They’re like the anti-journalists. And it wouldn’t be so damn fun to point out their faults if they weren’t the same ridiculous group of beings who act all righteous when the Flyers dare to cut out the middleman and give commodity news bits directly to fans and readers because reporters are too busy circle-jerking each other poolside.