He's baaack

Dateline: Tue 06 Jul 2010

Sports columnist Bob Kravitz surfaced July 5 (yesterday) with a column about Larry Bird. He'd been MIA since his June 22 look back at 10 years at the paper.

That particular piece prompted this rant from a fellow traveler:

"I'm sure it's just a jealous streak, but I can't help but wonder why there would be this fawning article about Kravitz that celebrates his 10 years of employment at The Star. He's a sports writer, for crying out loud. I'm not sure terms like reporter or journalist fit what he does. What about others who covered beats for decades, who never received any accolades or acknowledgements of their effort and service?

"Factor in that Kravitz is paid an obscene amount of money compared to other newspaper reporters, and the slights smart even more. It just seems very unprofessional of the newspaper to do this for a sports writer unless you are going to do it for the politics writer, longtime columnists, longtime general assignments reporters and others."

Truth here? Of course, the Star is hardly overflowing with longtime columnists/reporters/politics writers anymore -- Dan Carpenter and Mary Beth Schneider being probably the oldest kids on the block. The rest got the word: Hit the road.

I do understand what my friend is saying...I also get it that sports journalism and especially sports commentary are probably the most viable features in newspapers today. Kravitz is the money shot, six-figure obscene salary and all. Right?

Or was it just plain wrong to give him space to pontificate on his decade of scores?


hendy [Member] said:

It's all about "performer culture". Kravitz is a visible star with a radio show, and ostensible street creds in a town whose IQ just loves sports. This isn't a cerebral city, like NYC or even Louisville.

Look at the public monies poured into the stadiums the offers made to get the NCAA and other sports NGOs in town.

Do you think they'd actually pimp a liberal columnist???? C'mon here, this is The Star you're talking about.

2010-07-06 13:01:33

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

You make some valid points, Ruth. No sports writer should get paid more than a skilled news reporter. I say this having once been a sports writer and sports editor on a smaller daily. And, I miss the veteran Star columnists who got the word to "hit the road."

On the other hand....

I can't remember who said or wrote this, but the comment was: "The Indianapolis (sports) print and TV media should all be wearing cheerleader outfits. Either that or dress as team mascots."

At least from Kravitz, we do get some "counterpoint" observations - while most of the rest of the local media is waving their pom-pons for the home team.

2010-07-06 13:15:02

mlw [Member] said:

"What about others who covered beats for decades, who never received any accolades or acknowledgments of their effort and service?"

There has been a lot of this ever since the buy out... A lot of former Star employees, even some who have received honors elsewhere, are never heard from again - at least in the pages of the paper.

2010-07-06 14:21:41

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Who's Bob Kravitz?
I never read the sports section....

2010-07-06 15:32:41

IndyTodd [unverified] said:

A couple of things to consider...

Bob Kravitz is actually pretty good at what he does. I certainly don't always agree with is opinions but I respect the fact that he is a pretty good sports columnist.

Second, when you bring in the revenue (in pretty much any business) you get paid more than those that don't bring in the revenue to the same degree. This is the way life and employment works.

Kravitz sells far more newspapers, gets more people talking about his column, and is by far the most well known person at the Star with the public. That means he should be compensated more highly than someone writing a column that is rarely read.

Just as you would expect the governor to be paid more than a secretary in the local license branch or you would expect Peyton Manning to be paid more than a bench warmer. Kravitz is paid what the market says he is worth. And, like it or not, the market is stronger for a sports columnist in a city with professional teams than it is for most other positions at the local rag.

And, if you're naive enough to think the facination with sports is that much higher in Indy than elsewhere you need to wake up. The world is obsessed with sports far more than anything else. If you think this is just an Indy thing try looking at the passion for the World Cup around the planet.

2010-07-06 18:27:06

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Ruthie, your friend is forgiven for overlooking the obvious, which any high school tennis coach knows: the basketball and football teams' revenue pay for the overall sports budget.

Likewise, I'm betting, that the ad revenue Kravitz and Sports generate, more than pay his salary and a few more.

Like it or not, that's what we want, or a majority of us, anyway. Sports is big biz in this town. It could be worse.

The cheerleader comment is appropriate, Whitebeard, for all categories of Indy media, and 'twas oft so. Nothing's changed. The electronic folks, news and sports, rarely ask tough questions. If we had a (nearly) 3/4 billion water utility deal pending in, say, Chicago...well, first of all,it would be rife with corruption, and secondly, the media would be swarming on it like flies on August pavement dog poop.

We haven't had aggressive media in this town since Mr. Pulliam turned loose his minions on Birch Bayh in 1979-80. And that was a vendetta. Which hatched Danforth Quayle as a senator. Aggressive media can work both sides of the street--ask anyone in New Hanpshire, aka Loebland.

Hell when Sam Nassi was dismantling the Pacers back in the 70s, the Star sportswriters ate steaks and drank with him, and rarely criticized his ridiculous moves.

Kravitz is OK. Not great, but OK. He tilts at windmills regularly. Bully for him.

What he's paid is between he and his agent and the Gannett folks. Do I wish more columnists were paid more? Hell yes. But sadly, I don't have a dog in that hunt.

I'm saving most of my Gannett angry for the bullyish policy on obits. Absolutely disgraceful.

2010-07-06 19:14:48

Rose [unverified] said:

On who deserves to be paid well and who doesn't: Just to note, there are a number of copy editors, designers and the like who work for the paper, put it online, and make it available for people to read. Those folks don't have bylines. But without those behind-the-scenes people, you don't have a newspaper at all.

2010-07-06 20:04:19

IndyTodd [unverified] said:


While I and others appreciate all the behind the scenes people at the Star you have to realize that they are very replaceable. There are many that could do that job and they get paid what the market bears for their skills.

The same is true when you go to a Colts game. There would be no game without the people taking tickets, parking cars, serving the concessions, working security, etc. but they are very replaceable. Almost anyone could perform those jobs hence the very low pay attached to them. On the other hand, very few (if any people in the world) could perform Peyton Manning's job at the level he does. So, there is masssive revenue generated with a good chunk of it coming from his unique skills. He deserves every penny he gets. Just as the guy serving the hot dogs is getting paid a fair wage too based on his skills and the ability of others to perform the job.

There are plenty of people doing very worthwhile things in society that don't make a ton of money doing it. If you want to make more money develop unique or rare skills that have an ability to generate revenue. If you are easily replaced in a heartbeat than don't expect to be highly compensated.

2010-07-06 21:49:39

Rose [unverified] said:

I suppose it's "the market" that supports CEOs giving themselves big bonuses as their companies fail, and as they lay off the people who actually did the work.

2010-07-06 23:08:24

varangianguard [unverified] said:

I always thought journalists worked for their love of the work, not for the money.

Was I wrong?

2010-07-07 06:28:12

hendy [Member] said:

You were wrong. Some like their jobs and will suffer all sorts of abuse to keep it. But journalists and their families have to eat, too. The union, from what I can tell of it, is essentially useless there. Management has the upper hand because of fear in this awful recession.

2010-07-07 07:45:28

Old Anarchist [unverified] said:

Kravitz couldn't carry Bob Collin's jock strap (nor his typewriter) on his best days (and Bob's worst mornings). As far as a wordsmith, a sports observer and colorful raconteur, Kravitz (like today's Star) is a sorry imitation of what journalism once was.

2010-07-07 07:49:48

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

'I suppose it's "the market" that supports CEOs giving themselves big bonuses as their companies fail, and as they lay off the people who actually did the work.'

Alas, Rita, it's true. Inexplicable but true.

As long as stock analysts are made to look wise and shareholders made rich by quarterly returns, it doesn't matter what sort of overpaid wanker is running things. I am stupefied that the business sector still tries to sell the notion that CEO's have unique and highly portable skills that warrant their obscene salaries.
"We have to keep them from going to the competition," is one such frequent explanation from many compensation committees, which themselves are in the pocket of the very CEO's they compensate.

And yet, and yet, the companies are actually badly run and revenues meet expectations only through downsizing headcount, or going offshore, or selling a brand. There's no realy growth or longterm strategy.

What does the CEO of WellPoint do that justifies her salary? Aside from being the beneficiary of "right time, right place?"

2010-07-07 08:47:21

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Wow. Bob Collins's jockstrap. There's in image I can live without. Yikes.

In terms of style, Kravitz wold have the edge. In terms of energy and willingness to actually, uh, leave his office and get of his fat ass, Kravitz has the edge.

Overall, Kravitz is as good, if not better, at sports reporting. Absolutely no doubt.

2010-07-07 08:47:56

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Kravitz strikes me as a badly dressed counter-culture wannabe who sees his true audience as the Big Towners that read him in USAT.

Collins, for all his flaws, could turn a phrase, worked at the writing craft, and connected with the people he wrote about.

2010-07-07 08:51:02

John M [unverified] said:

I'm not a Kravitz fan. Actually, that's an understatement. Still, he is a columnist and I presume that he has wide latitude to select the topics for his column. I read the column in question, the ten year retrospective, and I don't find much to criticize there. It wasn't as if The Star covered the anniversary as if it were a news story, unless I'm missing something. Instead, the Star allowed Kravitz to write a column that contained some personal anecdotes, but mostly focused on the events that have been highlights (and lowlights) of the central Indiana sports scene over the last decade. It seemed harmless to me, especially during the sports dead zone that is late June: the NBA is over, the Indy 500 is done and the Brickyard is a ways off, the MLB season is in its first half, and football training camp is still several weeks off. It's a time of year when sports columnists must struggle to find something to write about, and Kravitz's column seemed fine to me. Again, I don't think he's a particularly good sports columnist and I do wonder if the Star's money is well-spent. But if Matt Tully or Dan Carpenter wanted to use their columns for such a retrospective during a slow news week, would they be denied? I doubt it.

2010-07-07 09:58:46

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

re Kravitz:
It must be a guy thing.
I never read Bob Collins either.

2010-07-07 10:57:59

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Really fascinating discussions on this one. I have enjoyed reading them all.

Some random thoughts/reactions about what I have read:

1. Rose. You nailed it about CEOs and "the market."

2. Kravitz being paid big bucks. I'm not sure how "the market" determines that one sports columnist is so valuable. What I see from Kravitz is average-to-good sports writing and insight. That, along with stirring up quite a bit of controversy on the local sports front. I'm sure there are hundreds of underpaid sports writers out there who could deliver similar goods. Kravitz is no Frank DeFord.

3. Working in journalism for the love of the trade at the the sacrifice of decent pay and benefits. I suppose if you are independently wealthy, you could see it that way. As a semi-retired, long-time professional journalist (newspaper, magazine, book author), what I find myself thinking about these days is how much less I have been compensated for my work than other people with college degrees and experience in their professions.

(By the way, the same "professional-as- missionary" philosophy is applied to public school teachers - who, for the most part, are also underpaid and undervalued in our culture).

I've often felt that management of newspapers (magazines, book publishing companies) used this "love of the profession" mantra to cheat their employees out of deserved decent pay. They never have been successful in getting me to swallow that rancid bait.

4. "The market." Yes, it is our way of commerce, but it is also (in my opinion) a bizarre way for the "higher species" to carry on with community life. We have people who teach teenagers how to throw a ball through a hoop (college basketball coaches) who are being paid more than brain surgeons. Yes, I recognize this is "the market." But I also recognize that it's an absolutely nutso way for supposedly intellegent creatures to do the society thing.

But then, this is a society where people who have the audacity to get sick end up dead or bankrupt because they need health care. Specimen No. 1: ME. I have very serious health problems and cannot afford to get half of the tests/treatments done that my doctor prescribes.

You know, the "market" and all....

2010-07-07 12:32:45

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

We can't be thinking about the same Bob Collins. A huge gasbag, as far as I'm concerned. He sucked up too much, too.

2010-07-07 13:46:04

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"We can't be thinking about the same Bob Collins. A huge gasbag, as far as I'm concerned. He sucked up too much, too."

Same one.
And he was his own greatest fan, interested in hearing no stories but his own.

Still, he brought some personality to the Star. A commodity now in short supply.

2010-07-07 15:21:49

Rose [unverified] said:

Thing about the market is that saying that things are the way they are due to the market is usually another way of saying, "things are the way they are because they ought to be that way, and people get what they deserve - good people only have good things happen to them and bad people only have bad things happen to them, and if you do right things, you'll stay safe in this world."

I think you have to be a little bit naive to believe some of these theories, especially about the market. It's accepted common wisdom, yes, that "it's not what you know, it's who you know", and that networking is as important for getting jobs as skills are. So, maybe the person who gets a good job has the right skills, sure, but they probably also had good references and maybe knew someone, or knew someone who knew someone, and that all had some influence too, and then, the market's influence was tangential at best.

I do not think that it was "the market" that dictated that CEOs should be able to reward themselves for failing. And I don't think the market truly dictated various other things, either. That's not how things really work in real life, and, the way things go is not always the way things OUGHT to go.

Whitebeard, best wishes towards your health, and sorry to hear you have to go through that.

(Tom, I'm not Rita. Not that there's anything wrong with being Rita, but I'm not her.)

2010-07-07 17:28:13

B2 [unverified] said:

"Hell when Sam Nassi was dismantling the Pacers back in the 70s, the Star sportswriters ate steaks and drank with him, and rarely criticized his ridiculous moves."

TTT: As the Star's Pacers' beat writer back in the day, I never ate steak or drank with Sam Nassi. I reviled him, and was critical of his ownership.

2010-07-08 08:08:11

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"I do not think that it was "the market" that dictated that CEOs should be able to reward themselves for failing."

Rose Not Rita, the "market" is many things. Not least is the protection of CEO's who lead companies into underperforming cycles yet retain their jobs. They do this because their claques are comp committees and shareholders who are happy with their particular piece of the pie.

Corporations simply do not dump executives who lead them into poor performance, often because there is no other wanker of similar qualification close at hand.

Look at how many of our nation's bankers- a job category now ranked below used car dealer-- were retained by the banks that were bailed out for gross malfeasance, on the grounds that their "experience" is needed and worth rewarding with bonuses. Thus the very numbnuts who got us into this mess are retained and rewarded for their incompetence!
I will point out the same standards apply to politics (wittness Indiana's general assmbly, "The worst state legislature money can buy," and the new alcohol ID law).

2010-07-08 08:23:19

hendy [Member] said:

Yah Tom!

The greed machines are getting untenable, and certainly more powerful than the government(s).

Someday, it might change. Not in the near future: CEOs have egos that have to be assuaged with plenty of cash.

It's modern day warfare, done with money.

2010-07-08 08:43:24

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

If Kravitz has enough "star" power to keep sending readers to The Star, then great! Once there, maybe they'll see Carpenter's tremendous writing or Mary Beth's tenacious and smart reporting. ...and for the record, Collins was an absolutely great writer throughout most of his career. Some of his coverage of big ticket events, particularly golf, is unsurpassed.

2010-07-08 09:54:49

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

...but, even "great" sports writing has no effect if it's not read.

And I, for one, never read the sports section. Never have.

Kravitz doesn't "send" me to The Star.
Whatever sports I read, I read online. World Cup and Tour de France coverage is far, far better on the web. (Of course, I say that clueless about what coverage The Star gives to either.)

2010-07-08 11:00:39

Rose [unverified] said:

Hey Tom -

It seems to me like if some of these companies were to put a job ad out there for a job that would pay millions of dollars, but having success in the job is not required, it just seems like they'd have some takers. Sure, winding a company down and laying off those who do the work might not be honorable, and may not be long-sighted as far as getting the company to survive, but for several million dollars, a person could be set for life. I think if these companies cared about finding a fair price for what to pay for a CEO, it would be possible to find that, and find people equally qualified and skilled as what they've got, and the true market value on that, if it were a fair auction, would be far less than several million dollars.

So, the way it looks to me, I think some of these companies DON'T care about finding a fair market value for CEOs. They're too lazy for that. And to me, trying to say that it's the market that did this is like saying that it's natural forces that cannot be tampered with that did this, and created our status quo. But as for me, I think it's human trickery, greed, nepotism and a lack of moral restraint that got us to where we are, rather than natural forces. People can do jail time for fraud and trickery, so there's some possibility of fixing some of that. There's not really a possibility of doing anything other than accepting natural law, though.

2010-07-08 12:50:07

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"Collins was an absolutely great writer throughout most of his career. Some of his coverage of big ticket events, particularly golf, is unsurpassed."

Collins message to Early, while BC covered the US Open: "Old money gone. Please send new money."

2010-07-08 18:28:29

indykjsharp [Member] said:

Can't believe no one has mentioned what a good writer Kravitz is. I could care less about sports most of the time but his column drew me in occasionally, and I was never disappointed. Glad to see The Star still pays for great writing.

2010-07-11 19:39:40

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