Picture This

There was a record number of reporters covering the start of the Miami Heat's training camp. They normally have around 60, and they reportedly had a few more than 12,000 there this season. The problem is the report that a few reporters even posed for pictures with LeBron and Dwayne Wade.

That is not okay. I know the average guy might say, hey, what's the big deal? But the fact of the matter is that it's completely degrading to journalism and the media industry as a whole.

The report didn't say what media members were posing for pictures, but if I had to wager a guess, I'd say it was either a radio guy or a blogger. I know how that sounds, like I'm engaging in the age-old (or 10-year-old) debate about mainstream media vs. new media, but I'm not. That's an absurd argument. Blogs are awesome. Mainstream media has some problems to fix, but they play an important role, too. The problem is that is completely embarrassing and degrading to what I do.

Reporters are not fans. There has to be at least a façade of professionalism. I know the days of the 1950s are over and journalists and athletes don't hang out at the bar after hours as equals. I understand the mentality of the young reporter in his early 20s making less than $30k a year and how he would be in awe of being in the same room as LeBron James. But you have to keep yourself together. I understand all reporters aren't as objective as they should be, but come the hell on, he's another grown man. You don't need to worship the ground he walks on. If I ran into Jesus H. Christ at my local Laundromat, I wouldn't even bother him for a picture. Why? Because I'm a man, and that's dumb.

And I'm not sanctimonious enough to suggest that this is the first time something like this has happened. There was a big brouhaha in Cincinnati a month ago over a reporter asking a player for an autograph and I've seen it happen before when I've covered events.

I've covered a handful of major UFC shows and you see this sort of behavior all the time. After the press conference for the first big PPV I covered, a line formed as reporters were going up to Randy Couture to ask for his autograph or to get a picture. At a media session the day before a big show, I saw two reporters interview Tim Sylvia (back when he was relevant) and when they were done they posed for pictures.

It's not fair to label Internet outlets as the entire problem, because then you sound like your elderly uncle who asks you at Thanksgiving "what this Tweeter thing is all about?" Some of the people I've met who work at websites are great reporters and great writers. Some are just fanboys. That same thing goes for radio and TV and even print guys, as well. Nothing is more disheartening to someone that actually cares about journalism.

It's not like you can't have your special moment with a great athlete without having to completely embarrass a profession by capturing it on film. A friend of mine who used to work in radio once had a lengthy conversation with A-Rod about a squirrel delay at a game. A friend who worked in TV once relayed a conversation he had with a future Hall of Famer about how this player hated holidays because those were the days he had to perform cunninlingus on his wife. Each of those guys had a unique story from their jobs and they obtained that without having to act like clowns.

People lose their mind that an attractive lady wore attractive clothing as a reporter in the Jets locker room. Just know this. Asking for your picture with an athlete you're covering is 10 times worse. That reporter could've paraded through the Jets locker room wearing nothing but a thong and a mesh jersey and it still would've been more professional than the tool that asked for his picture with LeBron.

Real media members do enough to embarrass themselves already. They have to answer for people like Jay Mariotti. What media professionals don't need is a guy who treats his first media credential like it's an all-access pass he paid for.

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