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Mike Sherman chat: Sports Editor of The Oklahoman discusses headline controversy

by Mike Sherman Published: May 2, 2014
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NewsOK Sports 10:01 a.m. Welcome to today's Power Lunch chat. Sports editor Mike Sherman will be on at 11 a.m. taking your questions and comments. Thanks for joining us and get your questions in now, because it'll fill up quickly.
JD 11:01 a.m. How is Blake Bell looking at the Tight End position during the spring practices?
Mike Sherman 11:01 a.m. Greetings. Let's get started.
Mike Sherman 11:02 a.m. It was an abbreviated spring because of his knee sprain. I don't think they'll know until they come back in August. I've heard good things but it's probably too early to tell.
Chris 11:03 a.m. Why are saying KD will leave. Were one of the elite teams. where would he go
Mike Sherman 11:04 a.m. Superstars and impending free agency are all part of the NBA narrative. It's a storyline and it often starts years before the free agent season.
Guest 11:04 a.m. Regarding the apologies for the ridiculous "unreliable" headline and apology--Why did the apology not make the front page?
Mike Sherman 11:05 a.m. Because we didn't think it would be right to have it competing with the Thunder's big Game 6 victory.
Chris 11:05 a.m. do you think KD will stay
Mike Sherman 11:06 a.m. Right now I think this organization and city have given him more reasons to stay than leave. He's a ground floor investor in a team culture he helped create. That matters. What matters even more will be the Thunder's ability to contend for championships. So far so good on that.
Dale 11:06 a.m. The benching of Thabo appears to have tipped the Thunder's hand for the future. Who is the starting shooting guard next season?
Mike Sherman 11:07 a.m. Good question: Could be Reggie Jackson. Could be Andre Roberson. Could be Thabo. I don't think it will be Caron Butler.
Alum in AZ 11:07 a.m. Nice job by you and the Oklahoman yesterday, Mike. From the apology to Anthony Slater's chat, to the various tweets I saw throughout the day and game. Was the headline terrible? No. Could it have been better? Sure. I took it in the context of the article. My favorite aspect of day besides the Thunder's win? Charles Barkley's inclusion of "Mike Gundy and the Oklahoma State Cowboys" when referencing the state right in the same breath with OU. That certainly wouldn't have happened ten years ago.
Mike Sherman 11:09 a.m. Alum: Nice hearing from you. When you're wrong it's best to admit it. As for Charles Barkley's Gundy/Oklahoma State reference, remember he's an Auburn guy. And Auburn and OSU share some kinship and commonalities.
Tom 11:09 a.m. Would you have retracted the headline if not for the public uproar?
Mike Sherman 11:12 a.m. Yes.
Reliable Ron 11:12 a.m. Is Scott Brook's job on the line Saturday?
Mike Sherman 11:12 a.m. I don't think so, do you?
PB 11:12 a.m. First off, kudos to you for standing up to take the heat on a live chat forum. TNT could not leave the headline issue alone last night. I wouldn't have thought it would make that big a splash nationally. I know it's not the kind of publicity you want for your paper and staff, but you see a whole lot worse things said about athletes and teams in other cities. I mean, you have to think Barkley saw a lot worse when he was in Philly.
Mike Sherman 11:13 a.m. It's a far different time. When Charles played in Philadelphia, the only folks who knew what the headline was there lived in Philly or commuted to/from there on a train. Now it goes global with the push of a button. The world is flat and fast.
Leah 11:13 a.m. not related to thunder exactly, but I really HATE the videos that play automatically on every single article I go to. Can you please make it stop!?
Mike Sherman 11:14 a.m. I don't know. I'll check.
Billy 11:14 a.m. Mike, you can't put the paste back in the tube. Who authorized or wrote the "Unreliable' headline if it was not Tramel? I would have appreciated a more substantial and direct apology, specifically for the one or ones responsible for that headline. Please come clean!
Mike Sherman 11:15 a.m. The toothpaste analogy is true. As sports editor, I am responsible for our section. I am the one you seek.
justin 11:15 a.m. Why did you guys apologies for an article? Was it fear of losing readers and ads? Or did you sincerely felt it was out of bounds.
Mike Sherman 11:16 a.m. Justin: I was talking to a co-worker yesterday early after the first wave of phone calls arrived. I asked him, "Why wouldn't I say to all our readers what I'm saying to those who took the time to call me?" That's why I posted the blog and then the printed apology in Friday's editions.
Thunder Up 11:17 a.m. Adams was awesome last night!Do you think Brooks plays him more in Game 7?Perk has been pretty good himself.
Mike Sherman 11:18 a.m. For all the criticism Scott Brooks has received about not making adjustments, he certainly has made a number in this series. I think that decision will be made based on situations/foul trouble/minutes. But Adams has a presence. One of the folks on our staff called him the Bill Laimbeer of Oklahoma City.
JD 11:18 a.m. Do you think Adams will have as big an impact in game 7 as he did in game 6?
Mike Sherman 11:18 a.m. JD: See above.
JD 11:19 a.m. Is Sefolosha expendable or trade worthy?
Mike Sherman 11:20 a.m. He's a free agent after this season, so the only trade would have to be a sign and trade. That's reserved for the superstar players who are in search of max deals and teams who are losing them that seek compensation.
Nathan 11:20 a.m. How about a future Headline reading Mr. Libel, referring to the impact that yesterday's headline had. Or Mr. Likeable, referring to the outrage that Oklahomans showed toward the absurd headline in yesterdays paper. Either way shouldn't the paper try to make amends with KD?
Mike Sherman 11:20 a.m. Nathan: We are and will.
Dawn 11:20 a.m. How serious is the Mike Conley injury and will he play Saturday?
Mike Sherman 11:21 a.m. Memphis is counting on him in Game 7. http://probasketballtalk.nb...
Max 11:21 a.m. I'd like to switch to OU baseball for a moment. I realize that the Sooners had to replace two great pitchers, but this team has just fallen apart recently. Do you think it's the new coaching staff, a lack of quality players, or just bad luck? Do you think this will turn around, and if not, how long will Pete Hughes have in Norman?
Mike Sherman 11:22 a.m. Max: The replacing of two great pitchers and the coaching change is enough to set any program back a step. I hear great things about Pete Hughes -- and OSU's Matt Holliday for that matter -- on and off the field.
Bud 11:22 a.m. Can you explain the process the Daily Oklahoman has with regards to the titling of articles written by your sports writers?
Mike Sherman 11:26 a.m. Reporters/columnist write the stories. Sometimes they put suggested headlines on but not always. Deadlines and travel and all kinds of things impact that. An editor reads that story and writes a web headline and sometimes (and often shorter) headline for The Oklahoman. Sometimes that headline is written by the page editor, who designs/lays out the page.
A bit about that headline: It was ineffective and wrong for several reasons. It didn't reflect the focus of the story. But what so many readers really objected to was the size and presentation of it. Big headline, bold type. We shouted it. His reliability is addressed only in the context of his free throw shooting against Memphis in Game 4.
Guest 11:26 a.m. Is it me, or was the headline controversy blown WAY out of proportion?!? Durant had not been consistent in this series.
Mike Sherman 11:27 a.m. Guest: See the previous response.
Robert 11:27 a.m. Scotty said last night he's going to start Butler again Saturday. Memphis knowing that will make adjustments. What should we do to counter those adjustments?
Mike Sherman 11:28 a.m. I like the move. Bold and unexpected. I don't know what Memphis' counter will be. One thing about the Grizzlies: They don't have any dynamic wing scorers who can get shots inside and driving. That would be something to counter Butler, who is tough but probably not the on-ball defender he once was. The adjustments these coaches make tend not to be the ones that are talked about or anticipated.
Guest 11:29 a.m. What person, or persons, directed you to apologize for the KD headline?
Mike Sherman 11:30 a.m. I mentioned this earlier. I was talking to a co-worker yesterday early after the first wave of phone calls arrived. I asked him, "Why wouldn't I say to all our readers what I'm saying to those who took the time to call me?" That's why I posted the blog and then the printed apology in Friday's editions.
Mr. Cowboy 11:31 a.m. How many bad seasons, like the one that's about to happen to the Cowboys, will it take before Gundy is ousted or leaves?
Mike Sherman 11:33 a.m. The other day I was considering implementing a double-hypothetical rule of thumb on myself. Don't comment on any scenario containing more than two hypotheticals. I count at least two in this question, maybe more. Beyond the acrimony that has surfaced between Holder/Pickens and Gundy, all parties understand this has been a mutually beneficial partnership. Feelings aside, I don't know if anyone with the best interests of OSU in mind is rushing to tend it.
harry man 11:33 a.m. Mike Sherman, i have never asked you this question. would you play THABEET a few minutes in 1st half and a few in 2nd half? WHY
Mike Sherman 11:33 a.m. Only if there's foul trouble or injury.
Chris 11:33 a.m. A friend of mine told me the NBA salary cap might go up 5 million next year. True?
Mike Sherman 11:34 a.m. True. It will be interesting to see what the impact of that will be.
Slappy 11:34 a.m. To what do you attribute KD's Game 6 performance?
Mike Sherman 11:36 a.m. - The law of averages kicking in. A great player due for a great game.
- A hot start
- Motivation (elimination not headlines)
- Focus/preparation (things that get sharper as the stakes get higher).
- The trial/error over five games and finding combinations and matchups that worked.
- Butler in the starting lineup
(Not exactly in that order)
Dale 11:36 a.m. The article in no way conveys the message that the headline suggested. That's why I hate headlines. It's like rules of journalism are suspended for the headline writer. That seems like something that would have occurred in NYC, but not OKC. Kudos, though - at least there wasn't a picture of KD at a hookah lounge next to the headline.
Mike Sherman 11:37 a.m. You have described bad headlines. Good ones reflect the focus of the story and draw the reader in. That's the standard we have and fell short of in this instance.
Robert 11:37 a.m. Yesterday, Jim Traber claimed you issued your apology for the headline because someone from the Thunder organization called and complained. He said your paper and the Thunder are in bed together. Will you please comment on this and set the record straight, if you can.
Mike Sherman 11:39 a.m. I explained why I apologize earlier.
I heard from our readers. I have a post-it note on my desk with most of those who called me the last two days. They more than confirmed the headline's problems.
Alum in AZ 11:40 a.m. Perhaps it is somewhat common, but are apologies like the one you published yesterday unusual for the news industry? I see retractions for factual errors, but not subjective impressions . I tend to think of it as a classy move representative of Oklahoma. I find it hard to see a similar apology coming from a New York based news source (but I could be wrong).
Mike Sherman 11:42 a.m. I don't know about the news industry standard for this, though I've worked in it all my adult life. I spend most of my time thinking about the good stuff I see in the industry and how we can adopt it. The standard we followed here was one established by where we live and the people we serve.
Josh Holliday 11:43 a.m. My brother Matt plays for the Cardinals. I coach the Cowboy baseball team.
Mike Sherman 11:43 a.m. Silly me. Thanks Josh.
Duane 11:43 a.m. Thabo seemed a little reluctant to take shot when the had opportunities late in the Reg. season and prayoffs. Do you think that might be why he was benched?
Mike Sherman 11:44 a.m. Certainly his offensive limitations had to be considered. Scott Brooks probably did a cost/benefit analysis and felt whatever he was giving up in defense could be made up for as a team and by whatever he was getting from Butler offensively.
Guest 11:44 a.m. Do you agree your headline was unprofessional, misleading and mean-spirited? Why treat a guy that missed some free throws like this? Bad form!
Mike Sherman 11:45 a.m. That's why I apologized.
Bud 11:45 a.m. Has The Oklahoman changed any processes or procedures as a result of Headline Gate?
Mike Sherman 11:46 a.m. Making sure we follow the old ones while taking full advantage of technology. Football coaches call it a block-and-tackle approach.
Matt 11:46 a.m. College football bracket: Who are the 4 teams that make it?
Mike Sherman 11:47 a.m. Wow. that's a change up. How about Florida State, Alabama, Oregon, and OU -- lookout for Michigan State and Auburn.
Mike Sherman 11:48 a.m. Thanks for the questions and feedback. Enjoy your weekend and Game 7.
by Mike Sherman
Sports Editor
Mike Sherman is sports editor of The Oklahoman, where he has a combined 18 years of service during two stints as a writer and an editor. He covered high school sports for The Oklahoman from 1984-93. He also worked as a news writer for the...
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