NBA playoffs and newspapers

Published 9:09 am Friday, May 2, 2014

If Oklahoman sports editor Mike Sherman did anything with the Thursday morning headline “Mr. Unreliable,” it was to show that people still read newspapers.

The headline was referring to Kevin Durant’s performance in the series against the Memphis Grizzlies, but many fans took it to mean something more about his season, in which he will likely earn the regular season MVP.

The sports editor even went so far as to issue an apology, stating, “The words were overstated and unduly harsh. The headline and presentation left the impression that we were commenting on Durant’s season, career or even character. We were not. We were referring only to the Memphis series.”

It makes me think about the importance of headlines. We’ve had a few here that readers have not liked, though none in the recent past that have caused us to feel the need to issue an apology.

Presentation’s also an important factor, if you look it up. It’s in big bold leaders, and the giant picture below it has Durant driving for a layup and getting blocked by the Grizzlies’ Courtney Lee.

I personally think the headline was a little much, mainly because when I see Mr. Unreliable, it’s something I’m going to associate with an entire body of work. Not just a series, which has been excellent for me.

As someone rooting for Memphis due to its proximity to where I used to live, I’m not entirely upset that Durant is not playing up to his usual self. I also think putting it all on him is a little much, as well, as Tony Allen has done an excellent job guarding him and also getting into his head.

Durant himself was not terribly upset, saying he understands that it’s about what have you done for me lately.

As a newspaper person, I can certainly relate to that concept. No one is going to buy our next edition on the strength of the previous edition.

Regardless, it goes to show just how much you have to think about the reader before you put a newspaper to bed.

As newspaper staffs around the country are cut to skeleton crews, that gets harder and harder to do.

I’ve been known to wake up in a panic at 3 a.m., worrying that we misspelled something on the front page because I didn’t get a chance to look at something as much as I would have liked, because I had to leave early to go to a school board or city council meeting.

But nobody sees that side of it, nor are they overly concerned with it.

They just want it to be right, and they want to know what we have done for them lately. And that, I certainly understand.

Unfortunately, sometimes we’ll have off days, just like everyone at every job has, including players in the NBA. Like your sports franchise, though, we certainly hope you’ll stick with us and keep reading through the ups and downs of the news cycle, as we move to improve ourselves and make the product better and better.

CAIN MADDEN is the managing editor of The Tidewater News. He can be reached at 562-3187 and