January 04, 2011
So here's one you didn't think you'd ever see: An American Ryder Cup captain reportedly texted a photo of himself wearing nothing but a smile to a woman he was trying to impress, and now someone is in possession of said photo and trying to sell it.
Deadspin, the site best known outside the sports blogosphere as the place which broke open the Brett Favre/Jenn Sterger scandal, was approached (NSFW language) about the alleged naked golfer photo, and respectfully declined to pay more than a few bucks for the pic. Oh, but the story doesn't end there. These things never do.
Deadspin editor AJ Daulerio (full disclosure: Daulerio is a colleague and a Facebook friend) tries to rationalize why on earth any journalistic organization would be interested in paying for photos of a naked Ryder Cup captain. He helpfully lists the Ryder Cup captains since 1993:
... and then reverse-engineers some angles on how news organizations might approach this story without just flashing it out there, so to speak:
* Did anyone on this list openly criticize Tiger Woods for his extra-marital activities? (Hypocrisy!)
* Would this behavior contradict this individual's public persona? (Hypocrisy!)
* Does anyone on this list have an endorsement contract that would possibly be impacted by this behavior? (It's a business story!)
* Has this behavior had any impact on the person's golf game? (It's a sports story!)
* Would Jim Gray be happy to know this type of information? (It's a Jim Gray story!)
And in truth, he's got a point. Why, hypothetically speaking, are Tiger Woods' desperate voicemails news while some middle-aged white athlete's private photos not? (Answer: because Tiger is one of the most famous people on the planet, and his decline and fall affected the world of golf far more than would all of those guys above put together.) We've reached out to Daulerio for comment, and will update here as needed.
It's worth noting that many of the same organizations that snidely railed against Deadspin's publication of the Favre photos were all too happy to take over the story -- often without credit to Deadspin -- once it became an NFL matter. (The same thing happened with the golf media vs. the tabloids in the Tiger Woods story.) It was as if Deadspin was good enough for the mainstream media to, shall we say, spend a bit of time with, but not good enough to introduce to decent folk.
Thing is, Deadspin's primary mission isn't the exposure of hypocrisy, it's the pursuit of ever-greater volumes of hits. Nick Denton, head of Gawker Media, which owns Deadspin, has absolutely no problem saying that his sites are in the business of gathering truckloads of eyeballs, and angle subjects and storylines in that pursuit. The site posts traffic numbers beside every post, and writers have, at various points in Gawker's history, received bonuses for driving traffic.
A New Yorker article last year suggested that Denton not only believes in paying for news (the Favre pics ran $12,000) but has quantified it: ten dollars for every additional 1,000 hits expected. Since Daulerio offered $242, you can extrapolate that Deadspin doesn't exactly put naked Ryder Captain in the same class as naked NFL Hall of Famer. The tipster turned down the offer, and no, we won't be bidding on it ourselves.
Naked pro golfers. Yep, this is the world we're living in now. Well, really, it's the world we've always been living in, we just haven't had to see it live until now. Lucky us.