Daily newspaper losing the battle on UofL sports coverage

By Ed Peak

Before cell phones, social media and all things we have now to crank out whatever we think when ever we feel there was the daily newspapers. Families took time to read at the breakfast table or the evening edition in the family room. Together.

Newspapers are thin now and don’t carry near the weight they used to in any part of society. About the only way to get information about University of Louisville sports for decades was the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times.

The Courier-Journal, especially, is a mere shadow of its former self, losing much of its prestige and respect. That’s despite having recently been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for covering a travesty that dumped on their front porch. The Times, unfortunately, was put to bed for the final time in 1986.

Now you have a long list of sources you can tune into. The C-J, 790 WKRD, ESPN, Louisville Sports Report, Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, Cardinal Authority,  Card Chronicle, The Crunch Zone and Card Game, all dedicated to Cardinal Sports. I know I’m missing some, forgive me.

Most sites are dedicated to reporting only the positive of Louisville athletics and not the negative. At Card Game, I believe we report the good and the bad to the fan base. It seems as though our local newspaper loves to hammer the negative, one columnist in particular.

Tim Sullivan is a friend of mine. But it’s a sad situation when the lead columnist seems to be desperate for Internet clicks, pummeling the home team on every issue that emerges. He’s not doing himself or the Courier-Journal any favors at a time when the print media is already in danger of extinction.

Courier-Journal ignores reality on Jim Ramsey’s compensation

Jim Ramsey

Would someone please explain why the Courier-Journal is devoting so much time and space to Jim Ramsey’s compensation package? If Ramsey had accomplished the equivalent of what he has done at the University of Louisville in the private sector, his remuneration would be at least five times as much as he is currently paid.

The newspaper’s management is apparently unable to grasp the enormity of what Ramsey has accomplished. Since he assumed the post in 2002, he has transformed UofL from a sleepy commuter school into a national player on many fronts. The University today enjoys a $1 billion endowment that was not conceivable a decade ago.

Either that or some highly-placed individual at the CJ is resentful of the tremendous strides being made at UofL. They do a disservice to the community by refusing to acknowledge that UofL was not content with the status quo. That UofL chose to separate itself from the pack of urban universities by applying creative and innovative approaches to growing the University of Louisville brand.

They’re missing out on the most relevant story of all, a then-and-now perspective on the progress on Belknap Campus, the Health Science Campus and Shelby Campus. They could easily devote an entire section on UofL, solicit advertising, and the newspaper could actually make some money for a change.

The CJ reports inevitably include so-called studies of compensation rates at other universities, as if UofL should impose limits on itself in achieving its aspirations by being average. This is inconsistent with the Post Secondary Educational Improvement Act, passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1997, in which UofL was given the mandate of becoming a preeminent metropolitan research university.

The University of Louisville, under Ramsey, is making inroads toward that goal despite annual cuts in state education funding, thanks to the staff’s impressive fundraising and development efforts and the assistance of the UofL Foundation. Giving is at an all-time high, helping to offset the funding cuts. Meanwhile, Ramsey has turned down more than $1 million in compensation increases since 2012.

One suspects there are individuals at the Courier-Journal who do not have the best interests of the University in mind. There are some Gubernatorial appointments to the UofL board who have competing interests as well.

Thankfully, however, those individuals comprise a small minority on the board, outnumbered by those board members who recognize that what Ramsey has achieved for UofL is unprecedented. They will continue to see through the distractions created by the malcontents with conflicts of interest and the local newspaper with a distorted sense of journalism.

Courier-Journal suffers major blow with losses of Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich

I’ve often wondered whether the publication would survive without them. Now we’re about to find out.

During all the recent personnel cutbacks at the Courier-Journal in recent years, the management always recognized the value of sports columnists Eric Crawford and Rich Bozich, with their years of experience and insight into the local sports scene. They were close to being indispensable.

The C-J announced Monday that Crawford and Bozich are both leaving to accept positions at WDRB TV. Huge blow, a double whammy for the company, losses from which the newspaper won’t soon recover.

Sports fans will lose, too. TV coverage, because of time constraints, will never ever provide the depth and breadth of print media. The two will probably enhance WDRB’s Internet presence but who wants to turn on a computer before consuming the sports news with their bacon and eggs.

Crawford, in particular, is among the best ever at C-J, which has had some exceptional writers. Like Dave Kindred, one of his noted predecessors, he is blessed with an intellect to examine highly complex issues, ably sharing his knowledge. As a result, his readers are better informed than the average sports fan. I’ve never sensed any bias when it comes to issues involving either the universities of Louisville or Kentucky. He seems to care deeply for both of them, wanting them to succeed.

Bozich is as much a reporter as a columnist, more of an analyst than a provider of solutions. I’ve never sensed any special affection for either university, covering them equally and objectively, depending on the issue, as any journalism professional would approach the task. This is the approach in a recent column that enabled him to deal effectively with the back and forth pettiness between John Calipari and Rick Pitino.

For me, most of the stories in the sports section get a glimpse and a quick turn of the page, unless they are U of L related. But the columns of Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich were must reading. They have always been responsive to readers as well, open and generous with their feedback, especially Crawford.

Their leaving says much about the state of Louisville’s daily newspaper.

Eric Crawford blog

Creig Ewing new sports editor at Courier-Journal

The Courier-Journal has yet to make an announcement, possibly out of respect for the 19 members of the editorial staff who took early retirement Thursday.

Creig Ewing has been named the new executive sports editor. Possibly an encouraging sign for Charlie Strong, Ewing also hailing from deep in the heart of football country.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida where he graduated magna cum laude and majored in English and English Literature, Ewing joined the C-J in 1998 as assistant sports editor.  Before that he held a similar post at the Orlando Sentinel, where he had worked since 1983 coving high school, college and professional sports.

Ewing succeeds Harry Bryan who held the position 24 of his 36 years at the Courier-Journal.

Other early retirees from the editorial staff, according to an Eric Crawford post on Facebook, were:  Pam Spaulding, Mark Provano, Mike Upsall, Arlene Jacobson, Pat O’Connor, Roy Walter,  Joe Baldwin, Carolyn Yetter, Keith Runyon, Steve Ford, Ben Hershberg, Larry Muhammad, Ken Neuhauser, Patrick Howington, Dale Moss, Ralph Dunlop, Ric Manning and Ed O’Donoghue

Media ban will be a magnet for Louisville football

The word from Charlie Strong’s office is that the local media is banned for the remainder of the University of Louisville football’s spring practice sessions.

Is the coach miffed about all the basketball coverage in recent weeks that forced football to a couple of paragraphs deep inside the Courier-Journal? One shouldn’t be surprised. The C-J seems to have plenty of ink and personnel for basketball but little for football.

Kentucky teams advancing into the NCAA Final Four were accompanied by WAR-sized headlines on the front page, sports sections and special sections. This from a publication shrinking in terms of number of pages, stretching the newspaper’s resources to the limit.

While Strong recognizes the significance of the Final Four, he has to wonder about the over-the-top coverage. He came to Louisville from Florida where football never ever takes a back seat to basketball. There are only four states in the union where that could happen — Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas and North Carolina — states that have never enjoyed much success in football.

The C-J exploits the fanatical obsession with basketball on a year-round basis, despite the indisputable fact that football is the premier sport in college athletics.   The rest of the country emits a collective yawn, goes to bed early during the championship basketball game and quickly refocuses its attention on how spring football practice is going. Like the name of last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, many sports fans will have already forgotten in two months who won the NCAA basketball tournament.

There’s also the possibility that Strong is making some major changes in the playbook or in personnel, changes he wants to keep quiet as much as possible in a micro sports world. But we doubt it. Some argue that it may be foolish to ban the local media, that it’s counter-productive. That may be but he finally has their attention.

Now that the newspaper and other media have been banned from practice sessions, we can expect a resurgence of interest in UofL football. Nothing peaks media interest into a situation more than being denied access to it. They’ll be back in a couple of days, count on it.

Strong knows from firsthand experience what happens when a community or a state has had sustained success in college football. That’s what he says he is committed to bringing to Louisville. For that to happen, he also has to educate the local media in the process, one stuck in the yesteryears of football mediocrity, getting all of its jollies on another sport.