LPGA adds its own laugh track
IS it me?
What is this, a sitcom?
Yes, despite minding my own business (mostly), eating my vegetables (sometimes), always putting quarters in the parking meter (as far as you know), I find myself in the midst of yet another controversy.
It was strange, yesterday.
As you may have noticed, there are no pictures in today's paper featuring Michelle Wie or any of the other golfers from yesterday's action at the Fields Open in Hawaii. Yes, the event happened. They golfed (I think). They were great (who the hell knows?). But I did not see any of it. We did not cover it. By now you've surely heard about the feud between The Media and the LPGA regarding access to the tournament without signing a specific agreement first. And as with any good feud, it deserves its own nickname.
The Wrestle Over Cannot Watch Morgan Pressel? The Quibble Over No More Scribble? The Torn If I Should Sign the Form?
The Argument Over the Covenant?
The Hassle Over the Autographle!
Well, you get the idea. We did not sign. So we did not cover the tournament.
Now, I am not a lawyer (I'm a doctor). But smart people who had read this document carefully, and pondered over it agonizingly, decided that these new rules of engagement -- and you can read all about them in the other stories we have in today's paper -- added up to a line we, as a news organization, could not cross. Seriously, this is a journalism-principal thing, one of those decisions that are easy to make in theory, but tough to actually carry out in real life.
Not cover Michelle Wie in a local event? Are you kidding?
I still don't quite believe it myself.
But that's how much principal means sometimes, and I'm proud we have the guts to make this kind of stand.
Of course, we were not alone. Several media outlets (and their lawyers) looked at the agreement, thought about it, balked, then walked. The Associated Press -- which provides much of the non-staff info in most every newspaper in the country and all kinds of national outlets like ESPN.com -- was the first to withdraw. (You're not the only one without pictures and stories from the Fields Open -- without AP, most every paper in the country is without pictures and stories from the Fields Open.)
Oops. Bad move, LPGA. Now you've got a media blackout, a strike. With all the great upcoming talent, how could the LPGA miss? This would be one way.
Later, the nice people at the LPGA would say that this was all a big misunderstanding, that the agreement we were supposed to sign didn't really mean all those things we thought it meant. Maybe. That would be great. But what a fiasco, to spring it on everyone at the last second like this. To write it so that so many smart people (and their lawyers) would read it and apparently think it was worth walking out over. What a shame that this is what you're reading about today rather than about an exciting field of exciting young stars.
What a really, really bad move.
Like Herman Frazier holding UH's Aloha Stadium back-rent check because, well, you know, he was figuring any possible proposed cuts in the rent might as well be retroactive, the LPGA had overplayed its hand.
So we walked. It was weird. I spent the morning Not Watching the Tournament, because I hadn't signed. The LPGA was good enough to let me hang out in the press tent, despite my outlaw status. I was good enough to not eat any of the free food there set out for actual credentialed media members.
At last, at about 1:30, after we'd missed Wie's entire round, we got the final call. We were out of there.
Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!
What then? Go find everyday duffers out for an afternoon round on some unrelated course where you don't need to sign anything to get in and interview them? Hide in the Ko Olina's swan pond and write about peaking out at the action from there? Start thinking up bad Don King-style feud titles?
Hopefully, everything is solved by sometime today. Writing about not writing about something is tougher than you would think.