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Denver Post’s Mike Chambers Hurts Credibility By Hoisting Stanley Cup

Chambers isn’t a member of the Colorado Avalanche. He’s not on the player roster or coaching staff. He doesn’t work in the front office.

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@MikeChambers on Twitter

Maybe Mike Chambers got caught up in the moment. After covering the Colorado Avalanche for more than nine months (and probably more, including the offseason), six preseason games, 82 regular-season match-ups, and 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games, having some fun during a championship celebration may have seemed like the right setting in which to be less than serious.

But for the Denver Post reporter, lighting up a cigar and hoisting the NHL’s championship trophy amid the locker room festivities following the Avalanche’s 2-1 win and series victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, acting as if he’s part of the team and celebrating with the organization looks less than professional.

OK, this is sports. It’s all meant to be fun. This isn’t covering the House Select Committee’s Jan. 6 hearings or another mass shooting, during which showing any kind of favoritism or bias would call a journalist’s objectivity into question. This isn’t even a serious sports story, such as the Washington Commanders’ workplace misconduct or the death of a young athlete.

Besides, many sports fans (and sports figures) expect reporters covering the team to be fans of the teams and athletes they cover. How could somebody not root for an organization with which they spend 12-15 hours a day and nearly an entire year? Wouldn’t that be natural? Aren’t sportswriters also sports fans? That’s often the perception, as wrong as it might be about the sports media profession.

As a result, most sportswriters and broadcasters take their objectivity seriously. Maybe there’s less of an expectation among a team’s home broadcast crew or even the local market’s TV sportscasters. When the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1997, WXYZ-TV sports anchor Don Shane drank champagne from the trophy and was ridiculed for it. He wasn’t a player or coach. He didn’t win that championship.

But those who cover a sports team every day don’t want to be perceived as a public relations arm of the organization. They often work to fight that notion because a tough, unflattering story may have to be written. There will likely be criticism of players, coaches, and executives during a long season. It’s part of the job.

At least it should be. Some might not be too critical or scrutinizing for fear of jeopardizing access or favorability. Others might like being around a team and taking part in its daily routine, even if indirectly. But those reporters risk their credibility by becoming more friendly with the people they cover than they should be.

That’s the position Chambers put himself in by hoisting the Stanley Cup over his head, enjoying one of the celebratory cigars, and posing with members of the team. He’s not a member of the Colorado Avalanche. He’s not on the player roster or coaching staff. He doesn’t work in the front office. Yet he appeared to conduct himself as if that was the case.

It’s entirely possible Chambers knew how this would look and the scorn it might invite from his colleagues and some fans. Maybe he was having some fun. It was the end of a long season for him as well. Covering a championship team is a reward for all the months of grinding with multiple stories, deadlines, and travel. Maybe he was even invited by members of the team to celebrate with them.

Or maybe he just doesn’t care what other people think. He got to be in that locker room with one of the coolest trophies in professional sports and you didn’t.

To be fair, we don’t know what exactly Chambers was thinking. He hasn’t commented on those photos on social media, nor did he write about the situation for the Post. In writing this column, I preferred to focus on how several in sports media reacted to Chambers’ tweet rather than attempt to reach out to Chambers for his view. I will try to do so, and if he happens to read this, I hope he feels compelled to respond.

But I also didn’t contact any beat reporters I know from my years of covering sports myself. I know what the answers would have been. I’m willing to bet the replies would have been unanimous. Reporters don’t do this. Not if they want to be taken seriously.

Perhaps we’ll soon find out what Chambers’ bosses at the Post think about this behavior as well.

Is this taking a fun moment far too seriously? Possibly. Do most fans care about what Chambers did? Probably not. But this is about how a reporter is viewed by his peers. How his professional colleagues perceive behavior that many would consider unbecoming, even embarrassing.

Months from now, maybe this will be forgotten. Maybe it’ll be viewed as a celebratory gesture. But if Chambers is in a position next season in which criticizing a player, coach, or executive is necessary, can he credibly face those people and answer for what he’s written? That’s how reporters and columnists earn respect among their peers and the people they cover.

Is that still possible after acting as if you’re one of the guys and holding a trophy with them? Most in this profession would say it’s not.

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Does The Return of Bob Iger Mean to ESPN?

Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Is Realistic For FOX at the World Cup?

Demetri Ravanos

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On this special holiday edition of Media Noise, Demetri Ravanos dives into the controversy and criticism surrounding FOX’s coverage of the World Cup in Qatar.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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