Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Stay Classy, Trib

I know I should write about Mike Tomlin, but there will be plenty of time for that. Plus, his press conference was impressive enough that I don't need to muck things up with half-formulated thoughts and passing them off as insight. Or something like that.

Instead, I thought I'd talk about something else, something much more sinister. That's right, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. We're all aware of Mike Prisuta's Pulitzer Prize-winning piece in Sunday's paper where he wrote that Russ Grimm was the next Steelers head coach. If you didn't see it, you can read it here ... except you can't. Because the paper's web site pulled the story after it became clear to everybody that Prisuta so totally crapped himself on this one that the only sensible thing to do was pretend it didn't happen, collectively stick their heads in the sand, and hope it all blows over.

Yeah, that ain't gonna happen. I'm not in the newspaper business so I have no sense of how things work. I can read, however, and I'm not exaggerating when I say the Tribune-Review, well, sucks balls. Not everybody at the paper, just the people I have to read. (That's not entirely true. I've given Joe Starkey the business in the past, but he's written a lot of solid stuff this football season. I can't, in good conscience, lump the whole lot of them together ... like I'm some big, fat, lazy important media person, so I think it's important to put that out there.)

I've bellyached about this in the past, but -- and I suspect this is because I live here -- the Washington Post's local football coverage might be some of the best in the country. And I HATE the Redskins. Pittsburgh's, by and large, sucks. Even before I worked for Jim Wexell, I thought he was the best beat reporter in town -- and I haven't changed my opinion -- but he's not at either of the big two papers. What does that tell you?

Before going on, I should do two things. First, thanks to Eric's etymological prowess, I'm introducing a new word into the lexicon:
prisuta [pris-uta]

To f*ck up royally and cleverly conceal.

-related forms
pris-uta-ed, verb

ex. I farted but prisutaed myself by blaming the dog.
Second, barring a Jayson Blair-esque scandal, Prisuta is the unquestioned all-time Captain Pantload. So congratulations on that because it's the only work-related award your winning this year ever.

With the niceties out of the way, I have a question: Why isn't more being made of this? As much as I love making fun of Chris Mortensen for his general douchebaggery, he was right on this one (well, Michael Silver was right, Mortensen agreed). Local guys who didn't have anything new to report -- Ed Bouchette, Wex -- didn't. Except for Prisuta. I'm assuming he had a source for his "Grimm is the new coach" column, but his source bent him over and, um, stuck it to him in a very uncomfortable place (like the back of a Volkswagen?).

Fair enough, breaking a story is, ostensibly, what the newspaper business is all about. Nothing's sweeter than the local beat guy sticking it to the national know-it-alls. But that's not what happened. Two national outlets reported Tomlin had the job, one local paper reported it was Grimm ... and when Prisuta's steaming pile started to really attract flies, his paper pulled it off the Internets ... forever. No explanation. No admission of rampant stupidity. Nothing other than the hopes that it all just goes away.

I try to steer clear of the bloggers vs. mainstream media talk because (a) I think the term "bloggers" sounds ridiculous and I feel goofy typing it (if you want me to say it, forget about it), and (b) it sounds pretentious when some dude with a decent thought every month or so thinks he's better than the guys who do this full-time. That said, Prisuta should be embarrassed enough to seriously thinking about changing his name … and maybe even his line of work. He's a joke. I mean, I thought he was a joke when he wrote this compelling piece of sports journalism in April 2004, but after this latest debacle, it's unfair to the people we classify as jokes to compare them to Prisuta.

I'm sure the Tribune-Review will do nothing and I'm okay with that. Obviously, they're not interested in people taking them seriously, and I'm okay with that too. If this outfit were an NFL team, they'd be the Detroit Lions. Sure, they get by, and maybe make a little money along the way, but at the expense of the consumer and their credibility.

Yeah, I hope it works out for them. And as long as they're at it, why not give Matt Millen Mike Prisuta a raise. I mean, isn't that the whole culture of "failing upwards?" Stay hot, Trib. Stay hot.