Scooped: Birmingham News beaten by NY Times

While the Birmingham News and its sportswriters were obsessing over Justin Knox and his transfer status, the New York Times was hard at work exposing an NCAA probe of alleged cheating in Birmingham.

What went wrong? Why was the local paper scooped by a national publication?

There are many reasons. However, the key point is the News has lost its way. Its leadership is biased, and its product useless.

The Birmingham News is out of touch. The News would rather focus on bad news for Alabama than real news—like cheating happening right under its nose.

Instead of propping up failed athletic departments like UAB, or running press releases for Auburn football recruiting, the Birmingham News should report. In this case there were some serious allegations of cheating. According to the New York Times report, “A college coach who recruited Bledsoe said that Ford explicitly told his coaching staff that he needed a specific amount of money to let Bledsoe sign with that university. The coach, who did not want to be named out of fear of repercussions when recruiting in Birmingham, said Ford told him and his staff that he was asking for money because he was helping pay rent for Bledsoe and his mother. Ford denied this, saying, ‘I don’t prostitute my kids.’”

Of course, the Birmingham News wouldn’t like this story. This story puts a negative light on Kentucky and John Calipari, and Calipari has a checkered NCAA past.

Calipari has an interesting connection to Auburn. According to this AP report (embedded below), Auburn’s new basketball coach is a John Calipari protégé.

It raises a host of interesting questions. One key question that must be asked, how much like John Calipari is Tony Barbee? And what exactly did Barbee learn from Calipari? Don’t expect any of those questions to be answered in the Birmingham News. Thankfully, there is always the New York Times.

51 Comments

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  1. 3
    Crimson-T

    I agree with your assesment of the print media in B-Ham. The problems its having is that they’re problems are the same as main stream media. The agenda comes first and they don’t realize that they have an agenda.When you report news, you have to be careful about omission because this can make news inaccurate which makes it a lie.

  2. 4
    ITK

    Do like I did and let your Bham News subscription die! It is useless. Thanks for giving us another example, Cappy.

  3. 5
    Pluto

    Auburn will be on probation in 2 years. Barbee has learned well from his Mentor.
    Bid High and Buy Them.
    Hell – Did Auburn not do this with Cliff ? AAU funneling through Huntsville ?
    Even Fucking Barkley has told you what the deal is at Auburn.

  4. 6
    Alex Hamilton

    Hey “Hate”, talk shit when your school has a winning season, much less a conference championship. UAB is a waste of time and money by the state of Alabama and the school. It needs to go back to DII in football.

    Here’s a stat I can’t get over:
    14-0
    SEC Champs
    National Champions
    Heisman Trophy Winner

    Fuck you and fuck Auburn. Not to pile on Auburn, they are trying to deal with deflation today. Maybe Mandi can help the baseball team recover and lick their wounds.

  5. 8
    Crimson Chicken

    The criticism of a journalistic powerhouse from a piss-ant blog truly is laughable. Thank you for the chuckle, losers.

  6. 9
    Pluto

    I am going to tell you why you are wrong. I read and PAY for this Motherfucker longer than you have been alive. I was reading this Rag ( including the Post) while you were shitting in your diapers.
    So – in the spirit of the Occasion – I can tell you that the Paper that writes your check – is very mediocre.
    I can’t speak for others here – but I travel and I buy Rags ( read online ) and I’m telling you that the Rag that you write for is a very poor product.
    Go lecture somebody else.
    Shit.

  7. 10
    CrimsonChicken

    Pluto–

    I’m not lecturing, just stating fact. The day I consider a know-nothing blog “journalism” over the leading news-gathering operation in the state is the day I join the Yes-Men, moronic masses that only accept what they want to hear as “news”! As a Bama fan, it’s sad to see this isolationism fostered by what used to be a worthwhile site until it started believing it was more than it actually is. I’m unfollowing the Twitter feed and washing my hands of this waste of time. Roll Tide!

  8. 11
    capstonereport

    Considering I spent a decade in print journalism including editor and publisher positions, I laugh when someone defends the status quo at newspapers.

    Unlike everyone else in the industry, I’ll tell you why newspapers are in trouble. Laziness and pathetic leadership.

    In this case your newspaper was so lazy that it failed to report a major scandal, or it failed to report the scandal because its leadership sucks. It is probably a combination of the two. Everyone knows what the new generation of Newhouses have done to the company.

    All I can say is that your arrogance is why newspapers are dead. You don’t get to define what “journalism” is. The marketplace does. And that is what scares the hell out of old media.

    I won’t own stock in any newspaper company (though News Corp. always tempts me), and I won’t buy a paper in the future. I have skipped launching any new print publications simply because organizations like the Birmingham News have killed print.

    And I also laugh when someone says the site has changed. I’ve written about media problems and incompetence since the blog launched during Mike Shula’s days. It has always been more Brill’s Content than I intended it, but that is because southern newspaper reporting sucks.

  9. 12
    capstonereport

    I will add the clarification that I think news reporting is much better than sports reporting. There is no way the Birmingham News would allow some of the crap that appears on its sports pages to appear on its news pages.

  10. 13
    CrimsonChicken

    Congrats on not being able to cut in in real journalism. I will stick with a medium that still matters, despite what you think. Last time I checked, candidates weren’t bragging about an endorsement from a blog.
    It’s hard not to come across as arrogant when I know I’m good at what I do (likely the best) and it’s with a publication that actually makes a difference.
    I’m not saying the site has changed. I’m saying it’s best when it blogs about things it knows something about. The inner workings of The Birmingham News is CLEARLy not one of those things. I KNOW THAT IS TRUE!

  11. 14
    CrimsonChicken

    The traffic on al.com and readership surveys indicate otherwise. You’re tilting at windmills. Accept my constructive criticism and stick with what you know.

  12. 15
    capstonereport

    I notice you didn’t mention circulation numbers. And ROP pays your salary. If things were going well at your newspaper, it wouldn’t be cutting staff.

    And I’m sure you are good. Great no doubt.

    Of course, that attitude is why I won’t ever hire a journalism/communication graduate again. English majors are much better reporters and much less arrogant. In my experience, every communication graduate comes across with your attitude. They think they know everything and cannot take helpful criticism.

  13. 16
    CrimsonChicken

    “Helpful criticism” is not “your publisher is an Auburn fan, so your sports coverage is biased against Alabama.” It’s just flat-out wrong. There is more to journalism than knowing how to write. I wouldn’t expect a blogger to understand that, but I would expect someone who claims to have worked in the profession to.

  14. 17
    capstonereport

    My helpful criticism isn’t that your publisher is an Auburn fan. That is a statement of fact.

    My helpful criticism is the same today as I’ve explained since I started this blog. Reporting is all about shoe leather. You work and work and check and check.

    Compare the work ethic in the news side with the sports side. Compare the effort of Blackledge in the two-year college scandal with the beat reporters covering college.

    Now, also compare the high quality people the News has put on Alabama with the rubes that Newhouse (all three papers) have put on covering Auburn. This is a leadership issue that has existed for some time, and the fact that Newhouse appointed an Auburn fan has done nothing to point toward an end of this problematic trend.

    Now, when leadership is bad and reporters are so lazy they get scooped by the New York Times, you can’t tell me there isn’t a problem. And this is where the real point is: Newhouse needs massive leadership change at the local publisher position and in corporate headquarters. There are real problems in the Newhouse philosophy these days.

    Really, is there ever an excuse for a national publication to beat the local newspaper? Especially since national reporters have been working Birmingham since January!

  15. 18
    finebammer

    http://www.collegehoopsnet.com/sec/alabama/050104.htm

    cap, this is a piece i wrote for collegehoopsnet a while back about the shady deal that went down around the recruitment of walter sharpe.

    his high school coach????

    surprise surprise, maurice ford.

    the fact is ford has been on the take for some time. the news wants no part of it because he’s a black, inner city high school coach.

    for the scarbinsky’s of the world, it’s much easier to pick on the big dogs, alabama, than to be seen persecuting a poor poor high school coach just “trying to do right by his whor……..players.”

    i would also suspect there’s the issue of contacts. how many sources would scarbinsky lose if he or the paper investigated ford???

    regardless, where there’s smoke………

  16. 19
    finebammer

    let me add there’s no love lost here for mark gottfried but even he had enough sense to walk away from this deal.

  17. 20
    capstonereport

    Thanks for the link.

    I don’t think a reporter is going to lose any contacts or sources if he went after Ford. Why? Because in my experience covering high school coaches….they are worse than college coaches at turning one another in for cheating.

    This increases when rival schools are in close proximity. I would be shocked if the local rival coaches weren’t pushing this story. I’ve been told that the Bledsoe story isn’t a shock since everyone knew his academics were a joke. If this were the case, it seems even more interesting that the Birmingham News got scooped.

  18. 21
    finebammer

    well, that begs the question, what in hell have they been waiting on???

    (for alabama to sign a parker player??? no, forget i said that)

  19. 23
    ITK

    CrimsonChicken seems to me like one of those violinists on the Titanic continuing to play as the ship slowly sinks into the icy North Atlantic.

    Play on, CrimsonChicken! Play on! Just don’t notice your paper taking on water.

    But if you need us here at this “dreadful blog,” we’ll just keep exposing the hypocrisy you and those of your ilk swim in daily.

    That sound you hear, friend, is a groundswell of people continuing to sit up and listen.

  20. 24
    Crimsonite from the planet Crimson in a galaxy far far away. FormerlyE.G. White

    Crimson Chicken I can’t believe you actually used al.com as a positive reference. What an idiot. The first two years I used al.com it was excellent. But for a year now it worse than sucks. And it gets worse as time goes by, like a deteriorating corpse left out in the sun. It all started coincidentally when they changed the colors to fucking orange and blue. Since I live out of state, I depended on the 3 papers to keep me current on all things sports in Alabama. It has finally become so pathetic that I don’t even use it anymore. You fuckers better shape up or you’re gonna go the way of some papers a lot bigger than yours went. And nobody will miss you either. RTR!

  21. 26
    Kevin Scarbinsky

    I think it is only fair to point out that Tony Barbee represents all of the genius and great thing in Calipari. He was Calipari’s student and learned well from Calipari. But he did not take any of Calipari’s faults or weaknesses. Here at the News we like to print the upside and positive things that are happening in the world instead of the glum negativity that certain other papers seem to focus on.
    Everybody needs a little good news today!!!!
    No, Barbee is his own man and becasue he learned from Calipari it is evident that auburn Basketball will soon be a the top. But I should also say that Barbee is now and auburn Man which means he would never, ever cheat or cut corners.

  22. 28
    CrimsonChicken

    I’m not looking for validation for the newspaper from the posters here. I know better. What I’m trying to do is address the repeated lie that who the publisher cheers for has any affect at all on the newspaper’s sports coverage. It’s a ridiculous assertion and anyone who continually makes it has zero credibility. Barely more credibility than the simple-minded posters who need profanity-laced posts to try to make a point. So, forgive me if your criticism falls on deaf ears when it originates from a place that has yet to earn a place at the table!

  23. 29
    finebammer

    “What I’m trying to do is address the repeated lie that who the publisher cheers for has any affect at all on the newspaper’s sports coverage.”

    and i’m with you there cc.

    i’ve been trying to tell these guys for years that after the newspaper’s coverage of the mike shula firing, after it’s near unanimous position to retain shula, it’s near unanimous position to retain mark gottfried, why any alabama fan would continue to subscribe to the snooze, much less make the effort to put coin in a box and open it, is beyond me.

    does anyone here believe that had the athletic dept. retained shula (on the recommendation of the b’ham news) that a mere three years later we’d be not only playing for a national championship but winning it???

    the author of this blog who you look down your nose at four years ago was defending the b’ham news alabama beat writer after he got his panties pulled down by cecil hurt of the tuscaloosa news with ONE PHONE CALL in the juwan simpson story early in the ’06 season.

    the incompetence of the sports writing staff as a whole got me to looking at your editorial board.

    it got worse.

    and it had nothing to do with the hiring of an aubie by newhouse.

    on that we can agree.

    i made the decision long ago to stop buying your product. it’s egregiously flawed and not worth the money i paid for it.

    clyde bolton saw this coming long ago. he refused to do talk radion show interviews. he saw the writing on the wall.

    you do to cc or you wouldn’t be here downgrading your competition and pumping your flawed product.

    competition’s a bitch, eh??

    cap and others may be wrong about the aubie’s objectivity but if it took the hiring of her to open their eyes to the incompetence displayed daily in the snooze, so be it.

    (a bit of advice for you, take the early retirement and find another job bud)

  24. 30
    Pluto

    I just went through this Sunday Showpiece in less than 15 minutes. No content – except who they and their Business Pals want elected.
    Lots of Ads Though.
    Even this “Simple Mind” can see this.
    Much hilarity in the Sports Section though. Solomon thinks Serena’s Outfit is too skimpy in the “Hot Corner” and Scarbo is trying to feed off the N.Y. Times Story.
    Say Chicken. Why don’t you give Ray Melick a Call ?

  25. 31
    CrimsonChicken

    Once again, your definition of “competition” is flawed. I was involved in the Shula firing story and can tell you the sourcing was virtually as high as you can get in the organization. Sometimes the best sources are still wrong. Don’t blame the outlet for the mistake of a strong source. Whether you but the paper or not doesn’t change the fact that we deliver a product every day you can’t get anywhere else! Watch how many times our exclusives are reported in these pages, sometimes with credit. There is a saying where I come from about getting above your raisin’ that many of you would do good to adhere to.

  26. 33
    finebammer

    “the fact that we deliver a product every day you can’t get anywhere else!”

    that says a lot.

    (and it might do you some good to hit the street and check your deliveries too, cc. because they’re not worth a shit either)

  27. 36
    ThatGuy

    Ever considered the fact that the Birmingham News is so terrible because there’s absolutely nothing going on in B’ham??? (Or Bama at all for that matter).

    Born & raised in B’ham, huge Bama fan, but I live out of state now. And this lil’ vendetta against the Birmingham News is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve seen in a while. Fact of the matter is, there’s nothing TO talk about in B’ham…so…I think yall’s beef is misplaced.

  28. 38
    capstonereport

    Finebammer, you just need to shut it and understand the News knows best. Don’t try to think above your level. Let your betters do that.

    When the story is wrong, it was the sources fault. When the News is scooped, it is because the NY Times is a gossip rag and it isn’t a journalistic leader.

    Don’t try to think. Just accept it. We are fortunate to have our Pravda & Izvestia right here in Birmingham!

  29. 41
    capstonereport

    If nothing ever happens in Birmingham, then why did the New York Times scoop the Birmingham News over this recruiting scandal?

  30. 42
    julio

    Cappy, we all understand clearly your disdain for the Bham News. But how in the #@!% are you trying to put an Auburn slant on this story?? A NY Times story that makes allegations about the recruitment of a UK player is about AU simply because AU’s head coach was an asst. under UK’s coach years ago at a completely different school??? Gee, under that rationale I don’t know how in the world your “objective journalists” missed the obvious Bama connection to the story when Bill Belichick got busted for cheating last year??? I mean we all know that Saban is a former Belichik protege and admittedly considers him one of the biggest influences on his coaching philisophy, so it MUST mean that Saban’s a cheater too, right?? Why didn’t Cecil Hurt (a.k.a. “Ray Keller’s Bi+ch”) cover the Belichik story last year?? Was Hurt afraid to cast a bad light on Bama?? We must get to the bottom of this obvious conspiracy!!!

  31. 43
    finebammer

    julio, as i recall, when the belichick cheating thing came out it WAS linked to saban in several forums.

    i recall reading AND hearing about it.

  32. 44
    julio

    finebammer, as I recall, I read that martians had landed in downtown Manhattan and had taken over the Empire State Building. I’m not talking about message boards, water cooler talk, or fan based blogs. You’re telling me that you read an article from a mainstream media outlet that truly suggested that Belichik’s incident “raised questions” about Saban the way Cappy’s article just did about Barbee?? Let’s examine part of Cappy’s article this way:

    “It raises a host of interesting questions. One key question that must be asked, how much like John Calipari (Bill Belichik) is Tony Barbee (Nick Saban)? And what exactly did Barbee (Saban) learn from Calipari (Belichik)?”

    If you “recall” reading something like that in a mainstream media article written by an “objective journalist”, then cite it and post a link to it.

  33. 45
    capstonereport

    First, the failure of an “objective” journalist to ask the real question isn’t proof that the question shouldn’t be asked. However, there were hints and the media did ask Saban about his old boss and videotaping under Belichick when he worked for Belichick. Plus, there were interesting circumstances with Richt closing a practice that increased the chatter about the link with Belichick. The first note of the question appeared in the Sept. 13, 2007 edition of the Birmingham News story by Ian Rapoport.

    Saban was asked twice during press conferences about his “friend” Belichick. From Decatur Daily, The (AL) – Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    “With New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick under fire in an NFL spying scandal, Tide coach Nick Saban has defended Belichick when asked about his former boss by reporters on two different occasions. Saban was Belichick’s defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns from 1991-94.”

    Ray Melick examined the Saban suspicion and the role NFL scouts might play in cheating in Cheatin’ hearts put coaches on defensive
    Birmingham News (AL) – Thursday, September 20, 2007
    Author/Byline: Ray Melick, News columnist

    “Much has been made of Georgia coach Mark Richt closing down practice this week. The reason, some suggest, is that Georgia is playing Alabama, which is coached by Nick Saban , who happens to have an association with New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichik.

    “And Belichik – or ‘Belicheat,’ as some in the NFL have started calling him – was found to have violated NFL rules by video taping opposing coaches’ signals during games.

    “But those trying to paint Saban as guilty by association may be looking at the wrong association.”

    AP article Richt wary of spies
    Press-Register (Mobile, AL) – Wednesday, September 19, 2007
    Author/Byline: PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer
    Edition: 01
    Section: C
    Page: 01
    Richt wary of spies

    Georgia coach takes rare step of closing practice in preparation to face Nick Saban , a close friend of Bill Belichick

    By PAUL NEWBERRY

    AP Sports Writer

    “ATHENS, Ga. – Georgia is getting ready to face Alabama in a crucial Southeastern Conference game. The Crimson Tide is coached by Nick Saban . Saban used to work for Bill Belichick.

    “Can you figure out where this is going?

    “Yes, for the first time in his seven years as the Bulldogs’ coach, Mark Richt has totally closed practice for the week leading up to a game.”

    Now, there was talk on talk radio and a good bit of stuff written in the newspaper about Saban’s connection with Belichick, and Saban was even asked about the cheating he might have witnessed under Belichick.

    Will the lazy Birmingham News ask the same questions of Barbee? Will they ask what cheating he witnessed under his old boss? I doubt it.

  34. 47
    julio

    Cappy, that’s a little closer to what I was talking about. However, I don’t think you can ignore that a big part of Richt closing practice was implied to be linked to accusations that Saban was stealing signals from the Patriots while he was coaching the Dolphins. For example, here’s a quote from an article by Spencer Tillman at CBS Sports:

    “I’m sure it is a total coincidence that on Monday, Georgia coach Mark Richt closed practices for the first time in his seven-year tenure. The Bulldogs play Alabama and Nick Saban this Saturday. Saban, a former Belichick assistant, was accused of stealing signals from the Patriots while serving as head coach with the Miami Dolphins last year. I’m sure there is no relation to Richt’s actions and Saban’s history.”

    Could a reporter ask Barbee a question about Calipari and the latest accusation? Sure. But that’s a pretty amazing stretch to suggest that the reason the News didn’t run an article on Calipari was simply because it could cause someone to ask Barbee his opinion on the matter.

  35. 48
    capstonereport

    I’m simply asking questions. It is American to ask questions. I’m trying to understand why such an august newspaper which is populated clearly by my superiors would get scooped by a gossip rag like the New York Times.

    I’m just trying to understand. While my feeble mind attempts it, I should probably go buy a newspaper so I’ll know which candidate to support.

  36. 49
    finebammer

    “finebammer, as I recall, I read that martians had landed in downtown Manhattan and had taken over the Empire State Building. I’m not talking about message boards, water cooler talk, or fan based blogs. You’re telling me that you read an article from a mainstream media outlet that truly suggested that Belichik’s incident “raised questions” about Saban the way Cappy’s article just did about Barbee??”

    yes, julio, i did.

    >enter capstone report with said articles from the “mainstream”<

    "Cappy, that’s a little closer to what I was talking about. "

    a little closer???

    no, julio, that's EXACTLY the same thing.

    EXACTLY.

    and you're spin to try and characterize it otherwise is just another illustration of the fact that you're full of shit.

    (h/t capstone report)

  37. 50
    julio

    errrr, no finebammer. Funny how you ommitted my second sentence, which said, “However, I don’t think you can ignore that a big part of Richt closing practice was implied to be linked to accusations that Saban was stealing signals from the Patriots while he was coaching the Dolphins.” I then quoted an article by Spencer Tillman from CBS Sports that spceifically cited that accusation. But hey, it’s fun to cherry pick one line out of a post and try to make the whole post sound like someting it wasn’t, right??

  38. 51
    Galaxys2 VS

    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. kudos

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