Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Clarification to The Nation

I am happy to report that Raider Take and the Raider Nation have made a new friend—Mary Buckheit, author of the ESPN story that I highlighted in my previous take. In writing to Raider Take and wanting to clarify her position to the Raider Nation, Mary has proven to be a class act and a stand-up journalist.

In her unsolicited email to me, she wrote: “I learned of the Raider Take community this morning when one email (of nearly 100 emails I received today) mentioned the discussion and pointed me to your blog. I’m very glad they did. It’s good to meet you guys…I would love to say a few words and try to answer the questions that keep coming up in the emails. First of all, I have read every single one that landed in my inbox and they are all interesting—some very witty…some very ‘colorful’…some a little aggressive—BUT, all are passionate more than anything else and THAT is something I can appreciate and most sincerely respect.”

She went on to say that her piece was largely misunderstood by yours truly and many in the Raider Nation—but she also took responsibility for this misunderstanding. She wrote: “It is no one's fault but my own. It could have been more clear = I could have been more clear. And I should have been.”


She continued: “I was being tongue-in-cheek at the beginning of the article, joking about preserving an 0-16 record. Of course no one wants to go Oh-and-16 and as you all so astutely remark, we in the sports media would surely have had a field day with the first 0-fer season in the books, so I was sarcastically poking fun at me/media as much as the next guy…But I hoped a different, overriding message would bleed through by the end of the article. And that is…that I realized that because the Raiders are so sturdy, and historic, and longstanding they are practically synonymous with the NFL and all that is revered in football. For that reason—for the Maddens and Upshaws and Super Bowls, etc.—I realized why you Raider fans are so loyal. And why no fan of a flash-in-the-pan franchise can understand what it's like to be in your bubble of time-honored success.”

In conclusion, she wrote: “I usually try to write back to all (emails) individually but I think Raider Nation has me beat. I wrote back to a bunch already, ones that I received the first day the story ran…but then, I guess since it was referenced on your site, the response became so overwhelming I all but gave up. It would feel better knowing that those readers (from your site) knew that they didn't email a ghost-mailbox. I read/am still reading every single email as they continue to roll in over here. I learned a lot from this story/its feedback. I wrote what was, in my mind, a spoof on the 0-5 media spinning sensation and ultimately a tribute to loyal fans. But, everything is, of course, a product of the corner you're standing in and observing from.”

I wrote Mary back. I told her that I stood by the points that I presented in my take, but also added that she was, in some ways, a victim of context. ESPN has been pounding on the Raiders for weeks, with employees such as Bill Simmons and Colin Cowherd obsessing over the team’s problems and predicting all sorts of fantastic scenarios, such as 0-16. Against that ESPN-woven backdrop, and in the immediate wake of the Raiders’ first victory of the season, it was particularly hard to swallow a new ESPN piece suggesting (or appearing to suggest) that the victory was expected and meaningless, and that Raiders fans were somehow bizarre and out of touch for enjoying it. At a network level, it was rather hypocritical.

Of course, I now feel a bit bad for calling her piece “sophomoric” and suggesting that she wrote most of it before her plane landed in Oakland. Let me say that I respect Mary Buckheit for respecting the Raider Nation enough to state her case and honor her many incoming emails with a response. It's very refreshing. I'm also proud of the Raider Nation for making sure our case was heard as well.

So does this mean I’ll go all warm and fuzzy and suspend my News You Can’t Use series? No. But it reminds me of why I make a point of not naming the writers whose pieces are featured in News You Can’t Use. We are all at our best when we avoid personal attacks. Our criticism of the media will make the most impact if we focus on the facts and on the points of discussion.

Along the way, we might just make some unexpected friends. In fact, we already have.

P.S. I have received a couple of notes suggesting that I'm letting Mary off too lightly. Please read my original take, which certainly wasn't sugar and lollipops. I stand by that take. However, I believe that everyone deserves an opportunity to respond to criticism.

As I've stated before, the goal of News You Can’t Use is to deliver a message: The Raider Nation is watching. We expect you to bring you’re “A Game” when writing about the Oakland Raiders. Check your facts. Back up your takes. Get it right.

I am willing to bet that Mary Buckheit brings her A Game the next time she writes about the Raiders and Raiders fans. Therefore, mission accomplished.

I see no reason to hold a grudge. Like most sportswriters, Mary could have ignored her emails. She could have said she has nothing more to learn about the Raider Nation. Instead, she responded at length and said she learned a lot from this feedback experience. For that, I applaud her.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Fabian said...

Al Davis deserves better. There should be a big fan party for Al Davis to show our support, before it is to late.

9:15 PM  
Blogger x said...

I appreciate the writer taking the time and effort to answer emails from angry Raider fans and writing to RT and all, but still....

I don't know if I buy into her reasoning. I re-read her article and I think most of us caught the tongue-in-cheek aspect of it, but overall, it was totally playing to the Raider Haters in the ESPN audience. You can't tell me that most people didn't read this and say to themselves, "he he he, yeah those Raiders and their fans are losers".

I also take offense to the little cartoon showing a Raider fan with a bag over his head. Maybe in New Orleans. Maybe in Arizona. But never in Oakland.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

In fairness to Mary B., I re-read her article within the context of her e-mailed comments to you.

My personal view is that she was trying to be way too clever, sarcastic and subtle with her "overriding message".

I would bet that the message that 99.9% of her readers received was the following;

You are stupid to be a loyal Raider fan.

A valuable lesson that hopefully Mary gained from the feedback is to not lose sight of who she is writing for. ESPN is a major, main-stream, gigantic empire with millions of readers. Joe Fan isn't going to understand her overriding message. The fact that she had explain it to all of us proves that point.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

X, good point, hence my original take! I read it again, too. Didn't change my take, either.

But she says she didn't mean it like that, and I'm happy to give her the benefit of the doubt. Her response was humble and heartfelt, which suggests it was sincere.

10:07 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

She may not have meant any of us offense - I'll give her the benefit of that doubt - but I also doubt that she was too concerned about offending us. I think she wrote an article that she thought her employers would appreciate, and attempted to match their point of view. She may have been shocked that real people were actually offended.

I remember last year, maybe it was the year before, there was some jerk on one of the East Bay papers who, talking about why people hate the Raiders more strongly than any other team, said that the Raiders ought to do some community outreach and charity work like the 49ers. I went balistic, and e-mailed the editor the Raiders own community out reach link on their website. Got an appology from the editor, but never heard from the writer.

8:50 AM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Poor Mary, that's a lot of back-peddling for one article.

For the media to continually bash the Raiders for their poor performance on the field is one thing (although, I think we won didn't we?), but to abuse the Raider Nation in selective fashion is going too far. We're as hard-core as fans get, and that we may live in a storied past is credit to the fact that we have one.

11:37 AM  
Blogger frkyraider said...

it's funny isn't it? they write the crap, we read it and respond in droves!! come to RT's place and rip them to each other. mary is the only one i've ever heard of responding back. she learned of Raider Take and came over to take a look. (i hear she may try out for the nickleback spot next year with a backpeddle like that) i guess RT's one little ol' voice COULD make a difference eh? well spread the word Mary!!!

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean your brillant, way to help us look like the fans that we really are.(Passionate not Incompitent)

AngelicRaider

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Hass said...

Unfortunately, ESPN is read more often and by a larger audience then astute blogs such as Raider Take. Her article was a cheap shot, it was shoddy journalism and sadly typical of what we as the customer have to sift through on a daily basis for a glimpse of the truth. The damage is done, I don't see a retraction anywhere. Mary has a job to do and she does it well. Her job quite simply is to fill web space with sports information even if there is nothing to report. ESPN is after all a business and entertainment will always prevail over truth. So do I think Mary has learned her lesson, no, she will undoubtedly do it again. She has to, that's what she is, that's what she does so long as she is with an entertainment first organization like ESPN. Commitment to Excellence.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Tokai Japan Outpost said...

Responding to the emails she received is professional. It's also probably a good way to keep her from having to change her email address, after a Raider fan hunted it down and posted it.

Instead of sending someone into the Black Hole for yet another piece on how Raider fans like to drink but aren't dangerous, this time ESPN sent someone to watch us lose.

Oh, but it's supposed to be a critique of the media and not of the fans ... right. That's why the caption under the picture reads "That poor, poor little girl"?

Buckheit failed with this piece, and props to Raider Take and the fans for responding. Is this why the article is so hard to find now on ESPN's site? Will ESPN post a retraction?

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you read the article Mary was "disappointed" the Raiders won the game because she already had the story written in her head. When the Raiders won she wrote the same story because she wasn't open minded enough to see the truth or write something positive against the company line.

Don't forget she is a "page 2" writer for a reason.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous horsecollarjack said...

Just to point out, the absolutely refutes "anonymous"'s first take when you pointed out this article initially, RT.

Whether she was sincere or not in her, "re-assessment", accountability among "mediots"(to steal a word from stick 'em) is the key here, and Raidertake.com is here to enforce it. Bravo!

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Stick'em said...

HCJ: It is certainly not stealing to see folks like yourself using their brains. I think that is RT's big drive after all...

The mediots (media + idiot) like to paint this picture of the Raiders and their fans. It goes something like this: the Raider organization is old and in the way; the Raider fans live in the past too and are illiterate hooligans.

It may seem like a small thing, but when we call 'em out without resorting to death threats and vile curses... instead using some mental muscles... they can't help but back pedal when they are confronted with the truth.

IMO, Mary confused the Raiders with the 'Aints. 'Aints fans have a long history of losing and incompetence; hence, the bags on their heads to hide their identities.

In contrast, this is the first time since the very beginning the Raiders have had a couple of losing seasons in a row. Raider fans dress up in Raiderween gear (there's another made up word for HCJ) to show their enthusiasm, NOT to protect their identities.

There is a fundamental difference between the way Raiders look at the game... and the way perennial losers like the Cards, Lions, and 'Aints do.

When the Cards lose, how much fun is it to beat up on 'em? None. Why? They have won EXACTLY ONE PLAYOFF GAME (in '98) since around the time Al Davis took over in the early sixties.

For them, winning is the anomaly. For us, winning is expected.

Since we have expectations, the mediots have a ready made punching bag when we lose. They expect it to hurt.

How bad do you think it hurts the Lions to lose... again? Their fans gave up when Barry Sanders retired. Even the great Barry helped the Lions to what?

You guessed it. One playoff win in the time Al Davis has been with the Raiders.

Raiders to Lions/Cards/'Aints isn't comparing apples to oranges... it's comparing apples to cumquats. That was Mary's mistake. She doesn't know her produce.

9:17 AM  

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