I saw this Tweet, and the debate it caused, as I scrolled through social media before falling asleep tonight. In my head, I weighed what I learned in journalism classes over my four years at the University of South Carolina along with what I've learned since beginning my job in local news. I think SportsTalkSC majorly overstepped their responsibilities as a "radio network."
Let's start at the beginning. WIS, the NBC affiliate in Columbia (and sister station to my station in Myrtle Beach) tweeted this:
In the meantime, SportsTalkSC decided to quote this tweet and respond with the one at the top of this blog post. They continued to take shots at WIS by communicating with the station’s longtime main anchor. I’ll share some of those tweets as I continue explaining my stance on this issue.
Initially — here are my thoughts on the Tweet thanking A’ja Wilson:
1. If you are familiar with A’ja and her contributions to the Gamecock program, as most people in Columbia are, you understand this is something to celebrate. Thanking A’ja Wilson was a way to congratulate her on her outstanding time a Gamecock uniform. WIS was simply celebrating the career of a legend, just as they would celebrate Clemson football by congratulating them on their national championship (which I’m sure they did).
2. Yes. Journalism should be unbiased. WIS, although located in a very pro-Gamecock college town, still sends a sports reporter on the road with the Clemson Tigers every time the major sports programs are doing something great. They sent someone to Omaha for the Tigers' Sweet 16 game while sending someone else to Albany to cover the Gamecocks. However, unbiased journalism does not mean inhuman journalism. News anchors are people. News reporters are people. News producers are people. WIS doesn't take sides during the Carolina-Clemson rivalry because that would alienate viewers, but they always cheer for the hometown teams when playing other opponents, just as WLTX, WACH and WOLO do. Why isn't SportsTalk going after reporter Mike Uva for literally changing his name in his super when the Gamecocks played the University of Virginia?
,Judi Gatson, longtime anchor at WIS, is not a quiet Gamecock fan, especially when it comes to women's basketball. And guess what? That's okay. She gets to be a fan, and she also gets to be herself. She wouldn't be the success she is today if it wasn't for sharing her personality. That's what's so special about TV news. You connect with viewers. They welcome you into their home. Whether they spend 30 minutes, an hour, or 5 hours watching you each day, they feel like they know you personally. Heck -- I watched Judi for the four years I lived in Columbia, and I think she's the queen. So I'm in that group of people. Even though I've gone off on a bit of a tangent here, stick with me. Thanking A'ja Wilson was a way for the station, as a whole, to engage with their audience and share some personality.
3. Sticking with the topic of engagement - social media is still somewhat new territory, and it's changing the way stations engage with their viewers. Not only do people feel like they know their news anchors from watching them several hours a day, but they communicate with them on social media. Similar to my second argument, a post thanking A'ja Wilson was a way for WIS to engage their audience on a digital platform.
Anyway - there's my argument solely on thanking A'ja before I continue with this pettiness that ensued from SportsTalkSC. Queen Judi, who I previously mentioned, clapped back:
"You do you ... and we'll do us." A great way to put it, Judi. And basically the unspoken mantra of local news. You don't talk down about other media outlets on social media. Sure... you have your competition and you have reasons not to like them since you're fighting to be the best and fighting for viewers and yada yada yada, but hear me out. You don't troll each other on social media. It's just not cool. (If we're being honest here, SportsTalkSC isn't fighting for WIS' audience since it's a "radio network," but what happened is still wrong.) Despite your platform, we all have the same goals and aspirations: to provide good content for our audiences. SportsTalkSC - your policies and your opinions on how to report the news could be different from other outlets. Does that mean it's wrong to do anything else? No. It's not WRONG... it's DIFFERENT. And that's your problem here. You've publicly trolled a powerhouse TV station. In my opinion, you're major jerks here. Jerks that overstepped and hit Tweet before they should have. But instead of realizing you were a bully and deleting the Tweet... you made a thread. You continued to bully one of the top news stations in the state. You continued a petty argument with the main anchor, who individually has over 7,000 more followers on Twitter than your entire organization does. You've also tainted your own reputation by doing this on your organization's account. If your reporters or whoever else wanted to Tweet about this, I doubt it would get half the backlash you're getting. It's petty. It's wrong. It's sad.
After this topic blew up on Twitter, SportsTalkSC made another thread defending their posts. And this is where the argument, of whoever is behind the Twitter account, is completely lost on me:
"IN MY OPINION" -- let's emphasize that... "IN MY OPINION"
SportsTalkSC, as I continue to refer to you since it's the name of the account you're sharing your OPINION on, YOU are not a journalist in this context. If you want to dookie on WIS for THANKING A PLAYER and proceed to dedicate at least 12 tweets to the subject, rather than spending your time actually reporting the news, you're an opinion column. That's not news. You aren't sharing a letter to the editor. You aren't Tweeting on your personal account. You are quite literally trolling a news station and sharing your opinion while trying to validate that you're a better journalist than they are? Oh wait. You address that here:
They thanked A'ja Wilson. That's the extent of what you're criticizing. They didn't say "A'ja Wilson -- the greatest athlete in the state of South Carolina -- thank you." You're telling me... part of your job is to "offer opinions on the news and events in the sports world we cover." So, you're allowed to share your opinion but local news stations aren't? I think you need to look at things in context for others, just as you've done for yourself here.
End of rant. I can finally get some sleep just as my own television station begins their coverage for a new day. Goodnight, or rather good morning.
The rare contribution to Danielle's blog. Tonight I just felt the need to write. My passion and heart are very full because it's the most wonderful time of every other year!
It’s no secret I love sports. Most of my job experience before graduation was working in sports broadcasting/journalism. I made the switch over to news, but it’s a dream to be on the ground during the Olympics.
I am constantly awed by incredible athletes, but I’m more amazed at the power those athletes have to bring together a divided nation.
It seems today like you can’t have a conversation without politics coming up. But that’s the beauty of The Games. That's far from the case.
After the North Korean pair skated their short program, the commentators said, “I’m going to leave the politics to someone else…” They went on to talk about the beautiful performance by two incredible athletes, whose performance warranted the praise it was receiving. They didn’t use the word nuclear. The didn’t mention Kim Jong Un. (They did mention the awkward cheering section before the performance, but that’s hard to put aside.)
Here in the U.S., you can love Trump. You can hate Trump. But we all can agree Chloe Kim and Shaun White are BAD. ASS.
At 17, Chloe Kim earns a gold medal score on her first finals run, then tweets about how she regrets not finishing her breakfast sandwich, then goes on after already clinching gold to outscore her first run. Meanwhile, her father has all of us in the feels… holding a laminated ‘Go Chloe!’ sign and calling his daughter “his American dream.” ALL. THE. FEELS.
Then there’s Shaun White… hoping for some Olympic redemption, scores a 98.5 to QUALIFY… and then takes first early… drops to silver it in the second run… and comes back to win gold with an EPIC run, arguably the best of his career.
The Olympics are my favorite time of every other year. I am a bit skewed toward liking the Summer Games more (because come on… gymnasts are badass both on and off the beam), but Chloe Kim and Shaun White and Mirai Nagasu and Chris Mazdzer. THESE are the stories that make the Olympics SO. MUCH. FUN.
I can’t wait for the days to come.
According to the many texts I'm receiving, I am "Twitter famous." It's very bizarre to me. My phone won't stop buzzing and my battery dies so quickly, but I don't want to turn the notifications off because I'm no Sammy Rhodes (s/o to @SammyRhodes - give him a follow) and this never happens to me. I like the confirmation that sometimes I can be funny.
When watching Michael Phelps win the 4x100 Free Relay the other night, I realized how far he has come since a picture of him went around of him smoking a bong. Do you remember where it happened? Good ole Columbia, South Carolina. The picture from that party was everywhere. I can only imagine what a dark day that was for Michael Phelps. A man who was once invincible lost so much based on that one decision. A decision that millions of college students make, some on a daily basis. But with that one hit, he lost endorsement deals, he lost his fans and in all honesty, he lost himself too. He was quoted telling his agent, "I don't want to be alive anymore." We all thought that would be the end of Michael Phelps. In a 2012 interview, he reflected on his mistake saying it was the worst feeling in the world, "the lowest of the low."
Beijing. 2008. Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson. Does everyone remember? I was shocked at work the other day when people didn't. Olympic gymnastics has always been my favorite, and Shawn Johnson is probably my favorite gymnast of them all. Shawn Johnson was the Simone Biles of that year. She was expected to bring home 4-gold medals, including the Individual All-Around. When the scores came in, it was Nastia who brought home the Individual All-Around gold and Shawn Johnson brought home the Silver. She brought home silver from her floor routine and from the Team All-Around. She describes this moment as she knew her floor routine was no match against Nastia's. She knew there was no way she could bring home the gold, but she still put her heart and soul into her routine. 50,000 people gave her a standing ovation for her performance. When standing on the podium, as the medal was placed around her neck, the peron giving her the silver said, "I'm Sorry." She felt crushed. Like she completely failed. She failed herself. She failed her parents. Her coaches. Her country. The world. She did bring home one gold medal on beam, and she describes that moment as incredible, but the damage of feeling like a failure was done. The world saw her as a gymnast and expected her to bring home four gold medals, and she thought that because she failed at being a gymnast, she failed at being a human being.
Michael Phelps and Shawn Johnson are two names that I grew up with. Two people I idolized. They seemed perfect at their sport, and that's all I saw of them. Therefore, I assumed they were invincible in life too. That isn't the case at all. In Michael Phelps' case, I admire his comeback. He has rebuilt his image and is swimming in his fifth straight Olympics, where he has already won a gold. Shawn Johnson has since retired from gymnastics, is a newly-wed and shares her testimony about how Jesus helped her through the darkest time of her life.
It's so important to realize that these athletes are not invincible. These stars are human too. They make mistakes just like we do. The pressure that comes from being beyond elite is something I can't even fathom.
I almost didn't send in that Tweet. It isn't often that I reread a tweet multiple times before hitting send. I tend to be a bit impulsive and definitely Tweet more than I should, but this time it crossed my mind. Will people think this means I'm smoking a bong in Five Points? If Michael Phelps ever stalked my Twitter, would he hate me for this? But I came to a realization that I wasn't kidding. This isn't a joke. I know many people think it's a joke, and that's why it has blown up in the Carolina community, but I'm not kidding. You may think your career is over. You may make a colossal mistake. You may be at an all-time low, but you can always come back from it. There's always something more for you. This wasn't about roasting Michael Phelps. He in no way deserves that. Look at what he's done. Carrying the American Flag in his first opening ceremonies in his fifth Olympics. He is living proof that, as your world crumbles around you, you can rebuild. If you fight hard enough, you could be on the top of the podium too.
Well, Carolina… We made it. It’s been a long ride, but the Carolina Panthers are headed to Super Bowl 50. This team has everything: charismatic offense, powerhouse defense, heart and soul, and a heck of a lot of fun. We can each learn a lot from the Carolina Panthers. I would like to take a moment to share the biggest lessons I have learned from the NFC Champions.
It was impossible to escape the negativity from analysts this season. With Kelvin Benjamin injured, people had little to no faith in the Panthers. Each week, people came up with another reason Cam and his squad would be defeated. However, with the exception of that one week in Atlanta, the Carolina Panthers proved everyone wrong. But with each victory, everyone managed to still tear apart the Carolina Panthers. "It's only the Bucs." "You won't beat Dallas with Romo back." "Norman should be suspended." "Seattle was sliding all over that field."
The Carolina Panthers are headed to Super Bowl 50, facing one of the greatest quarterbacks in history in what may be his final game. It won't be an easy battle against the number one defense, but the Carolina Panthers have taught us to silence the haters by proving them wrong. “All year long no one has given us a shot,” Tolbert said. “We’re not supposed to be here – that’s what everyone else thinks.”
Whether they win in two weeks or not, this is a team that has overcome immense amounts of scrutiny. Watching Cam Newton grow, both on and off the field, can teach each of us to never give up, no matter what others say about you.
There's one overarching theme in each post-game presser: work. Whether the panthers won or lost, the work ethic of the Carolina Panthers shone through. Following the victory over Tennessee, Rivera gave his team the day off. The team still showed up, including Cam, to get mentally prepared. If you recall, the Panthers played a total of three games in 12 days. "Those are the things you have to do if you want to be ready for the next go-around. You don't have to do it, but you have to be willing to do it. That's what we've got right now - a group of guys that are willing to do things," Coach Ron Rivera said.
You're looking at a team full of extremely talented players, who may not be the best in the NFL, but are willing to work hard and put in the effort required to be a championship team. In the words of Cam Newton, it isn't going to be quick grits. Winning a Super Bowl will be like slow-cooked collard greens.
Teamwork makes the dream work. It’s the relationships between the Carolina Panthers that makes them a huge success. All the way up to the ownership and management, we see this team reminding everyone what football is truly about. In the words of my dad, “This is the type of team that draws me in. They’re all just players, but they make a great team.” My dad, a Yankee born and bred, compared this team to the 1996 Yankees. These players are so much more than just athletes because each individual knows they are a part of something bigger than themselves. They make you want to cheer for them. I’m biased; I won’t deny that. But I find it difficult to not love this team. If you’ve seen Greg Olsen’s kids run towards him before each game, there’s no way your heart doesn’t melt (unless you don’t have a heart at all). Luke Keuchly is one of the most iconic defensive figures in the game and he’s still so humble. I’ll be honest, Cam Newton was not my favorite when he was in college, but he won me over shortly after the Panthers drafted him. He loves the game. He takes his role extremely seriously. He knows he is an inspiration to many and doesn’t take that lightly. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have fun, and that is something that’s hard to come by in the game today. Each of these players, as I said before, knows they are a part of a team that is so much bigger than each individual piece of the puzzle. This shows us all that humility and encouragement is so much stronger than simply having the athletic ability to be successful in the NFL.
It’s a well-known saying: if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. No one, not even the thousands of Panther haters, can deny that the Carolina Panthers are having the time of their lives each time they step out on the field. Even if you hate the, arguably excessive, celebrations in the end zone, you know they are having fun playing the game. Before the NFC Championship, Mike Tolbert said, “We’re going to be who we are and have fun with what we do on and off the field.” The passion these players show each and every game is something hard to come by in the NFL today. This team has a fun-loving personality. If you haven’t watched the footage of Cam Newton mic’d up during Week 11, you haven’t truly experienced the fun this team has on the sidelines. This team manages to put a smile on my face, which as a Panthers fan, is something I haven’t experienced in quite some time. This team is a perfect reminder to love what you do and enjoy each moment.
Now I would like to take a moment to appreciate Jerry Richardson. I don’t care what team you cheer for. If you do not have the upmost respect for Mr. Richardson, I have zero respect for you. This man bleeds Carolina blue. It was his dream to bring the NFL to the Carolinas. He is one of two NFL owners to own his team for its entire history. He is one of the classiest, most faithful men in the history of football.
All Carolina Panthers fans remember that heartbreaking day, February 1, 2004, when Tom Brady’s Patriots beat our beloved Panthers in their first Super Bowl appearance. The score was 32-29. (Everyone else remembers this Super Bowl from the infamous halftime show with Janet Jackson.) I think we’re all slightly disappointed the AFC championship ended as it did. I personally would’ve loved for the Panthers to avenge their first appearance. Regardless, the Carolina Panthers, following a painful decade, have done it. And what I would argue are some of the most faithful fans in the NFL are able to celebrate an extremely exciting season by travelling to California.
Fans have waited twelve years for this team. When the Panthers drafted Cam Newton, I don’t know that anyone knew the potential of this team. But fans are excited about this team. It is this team that reminds fans to have faith.
Keep Pounding. It’s a phrase Panthers fans have heard for years. It’s a phrase that has gained national recognition for the first time. What does it mean? Before each game, a special guest hits the “Keep Pounding” drum. A drum that represents overcoming adversity. Sometimes the guest is a child battling a terminal illness. Sometimes it’s a figure like Steph Curry. I felt it was fitting for Jerry Richardson to pound the drum prior to the NFC Championship game. “Keep Pounding” is the biggest thing I believe we can learn from the Carolina Panthers. It means everything this post is about. Keep proving the haters wrong. Keep working hard. Keep having faith. Keep working as a team. Keep having fun. “Keep Pounding.” Never give up and fight for what you believe in because it will pay off.
Today, a package containing 4 live lobsters was delivered to our office today. Obviously, I had to play with them. We named this particular lobster "Dr. Mehmet CL-OZ." (Ha... Get it?)
As you can read under my "Aspirations" tab, I am living in Atlanta, GA this summer while I intern for Sharecare, Inc. Atlanta is a fun city with many things to do! So far, I have been able to cross the Atlanta Skyview, Atlanta Zoo, a Braves game and the College Football Hall of Fame off my list.
Today I went to the College Football Hall of Fame and had an absolute blast! I think it confirmed that, if I pursue a career in sports, it needs to be on the media side. As I posed beside the Heismann Trophy, I quickly learned that I do not look nearly as graceful with a stiff-arm as my favorite Heismann Winners (Tim Tebow and Steve Spurrier) do. If you ever have a chance to go to the College Football Hall of Fame, I highly recommend it!
When I found out I was going to be in Atlanta this summer, there was one thing that excited me more than anything else - major league baseball. I have never lived in a city with a professional baseball team, and although I am a Yankees fan, I was SO excited to cheer for the Braves this summer. At work, the interns were offered the CEO's tickets for a Thursday night game against the Boston Red Sox. So not only was I able to cheer for the Braves, but I also got to cheer AGAINST the Red Sox, which was great for a die hard New York Yanks fan.
The seats were second row right next to the Red Sox's dugout. (Check out the pictures in the slide show below). They were incredible! Food and drinks were complimentary and they served you so you never had to leave your seats, unless you wanted the fancy food inside. Personally - I'm happy with a hot dog and some peanuts at a baseball game. Shrimp and corn on the cob was a bit over the top for me. Even with the Braves losing, it was an unforgettable night with my coworkers.
The previous weekend, I visited the Atlanta Zoo. Aside from the insanely hot temperatures, it was very fun! The must-see exhibit is definitely the pandas. They're always eating! (A lot like me... I could easily relate to loving good food.) Unfortunately, we missed the feeding time for the giraffes. I definitely plan to return and feed the giraffes before I leave at the end of the summer!
Just two days before my zoo adventures, I met one of my sorority sisters at Atlanta's famous restaurant "The Varsity." I hadn't been to The Varsity in years and was heartbroken to discover they took chicken fingers off the menu. Regardless - you have to go to the varsity if you come to Atlanta. From there, we decided to go to Atlanta Skyview, the ferris wheel in Midtown. There is a Groupon for a date night where you receive reduced ticket prices for two AND a box of chocolates. Who can beat that kind of deal!? We ended up having a wonderful night and experiencing horrific Atlanta traffic. (Kenny Chesney, Kevin Hart & AWOLNation were all performing within a two block radius.) This was a great kickoff to summer and a night I will never forget with a very special friend!
There is so much to do in the city of Atlanta and I am so excited to continue adventuring! I can't wait to take a tour of the CNN center, attend more Braves games, day trip to Chattanooga and explore the Aquarium. I have just over one month left and I hope to make the best of every single moment!
Danielle Barilla is a graduate of the University of South Carolina currently living in Myrtle Beach where she works as a television news producer. As lover of game 7s and Olympic golds, she often roots for the underdog, which comes natural to her as a Charlotte sports fan. However, her New York/championship roots show through when she cheers for the Yankees. She loves binge watching sitcoms and teen dramas on Netflix, eating Asian food and getting too aggressive over SEC football.