Admission! Auburn fan running the News

I thought Alabama was the only school with sidewalk alums? It sure sounded like Pam Siddall was one of those sidewalk fans, but in an interesting twist. She cheers for Auburn. Based on the conversation today on Paul Finebaum’s Radio Network, the Birmingham News sports editor Tom Arenberg confirmed Pam Siddall as an Auburn fan that graduated from another school. Also on Tuesday’s Finebaum show, it was revealed information on what was apparently Siddall’s twitter page. According to twitter page, Name: Pam Siddall, Location Wichita, Kansas, Bio: SEC football, hip hop, mother of 2 wonderful girls, Auburn fan…War Eagle!

War Eagle indeed!

Arenberg’s appearance on Finebaum was also informative about the Birmingham News beat writer—Charles Goldberg. While Goldberg is not anywhere near the cheerleader of a Phillip Marshall, he has performed his fair share of puff pieces. During the days of Tommy Tuberville Bessemer Academy’s Harris Gaston, an unrated linebacker, committed to Auburn. Goldberg immediately declared this unrated linebacker to be “considered by some the top prep linebacker in the state.” (Link: http://blog.al.com/goldmine/2008/04/bessemer_academys_gaston_choos.html and I wrote about it on April 22, 2008.) In a year with state linebackers including Tana Patrick, Nico Johnson and D.T. Shackleford, this AISA linebacker was not considered by anyone the top linebacker in the state. Well anyone other than the player’s mother, Goldberg and a couple of Auburn message board posters. When he was rated by Rivals and Scout, he wasn’t the top linebacker in the state.

15 years covering the Auburn beat has left Goldberg susceptible to manipulation. That is the only explanation for any writing like that blog post.

A quick review of Goldberg’s work during the Auburn sociology scandal was less than impressive. During the time from July 14 through the release of the final Auburn review, Goldberg’s stories included pieces quoting Auburn officials but offering little in the way of new information. Most of the stories with Goldberg’s byline available via Newsbank were recapitulations of the New York Times’ reporting or denials of wrongdoing by Auburn officials. None of that can be described as reporting. Regurgitating? Yes.

In fairness to the Birmingham News, it appears that Jon Solomon did most of the legwork during July 2006 when the story broke. (But doesn’t that raise the question of why wasn’t Goldberg more involved in the story?) The Birmingham News ran 22 stories and commentaries that month on the issue with Kevin Scarbinsky penning a memorable column: “Latest news about Auburn just Plain stinks.” However, by the end of 2006 the newspaper ran a staff editorial praising Auburn. On November 8, 2006 the paper wrote the editorial “No special favors for AU athletes” and said, “The positive changes Auburn has made as a result of its investigation should help restore that integrity.”

Another note
The story about perceived bias in the Birmingham News has picked up steam. Sportzblitzlive.com (a radio and cable broadcast reaching over 500,000 households in Alabama) had me on for a segment Tuesday evening. The focus was the perceived bias of the state’s largest newspaper.