In case you somehow missed the whole thing (and if you did, I’d like a little of whatever you were on!) LeBron James is the love child of Michael Jordan and Zeus. He uses his super-human powers to put a small ball into an iron ring and turn it into a massive pile of gold.
I may have a few facts mixed up but you’ll have to excuse me because I’ve never really been a huge professional basketball fan. If I want to see a bunch of millionaires jumping into the air I’ll just head on down to Wall Street every week when the government stimulus check comes in. I’m really more of a professional baseball guy. I figure any sport where a guy in Babe Ruth’s shape can become a legend is my kind of game.
Anyway, to fill you in; last night LeBron James (who prefers the simple, understated yet elegant nickname of King James) appeared in a one hour ESPN program where Dr. Phil convinced him that he really needed to get in touch with the “inner LeBron” by moving to Florida. Again, I may have some of this wrong since I didn’t actually watch the ESPN broadcast. Anyway, the bottom line is that King James is leaving Cleveland and he’s going to turn out the lights when he leaves.
During my 11:00 newscast I learned via Twitter, much to my surprise, that I’m not the only non-basketball fan out there. A Tweeter named @JessAkomA suggested we really ought to be covering the Oscar Grant story and not wasting our time on LeBron. I suggested, dispite her lack of interest, more people were probably interested in LeBron. And you know what? We were both right.
Oscar Grant, an African American, was shot in the back by a white Oakland, California police officer in 2009. Last week that officer was found guilty, not of murder, but of manslaughter…sparking all kinds of bad Rodney King memories. We should have given the story at least a little air time…but the sad truth is many of our viewers would have started switching around to find the LeBron story if we’d done that last night.
It brings me to the oldest dilemma in the broadcast business: do we broadcast the stories you need to know…or the ones you want to see? In a perfect world we do a little bit of both. But this is increasingly becoming a less perfect world where TV equipment, studios and even anchors cost money and there’s a smaller slice of a shrinking advertising pie to pay for it all. So we’re forced every newscast to make a Solomon’s choice between need to know and want to see.
That’s where LeBron James comes in. Turns out he didn’t just hose Ohio…he hosed us too! In our cold calculus of viewer interest, LeBron took Oscar Grant to school.
Maybe we’ll all be lucky. Maybe the prophecies of doom and gloom will come true …and when LeBron leaves for Miami Cleveland will slowly sink into Lake Erie, never to be seen again.
Now I think we can all agree: that’s news.