Why Is Cal Athletics Using The Associated Press For Official Sports Stories?

Recently, Cal's men's basketball team defeated UCLA. Yay! What a great way to start off this post. But then things went quickly downhill. NOOOOOO! What a terrible turn of events for this post. What happened was Cal posted its official recap at CalBears.com.

At the initial time of posting, the story referred to player Harper Kamp by the name Hunter Kamp. You cannot tell now as the story has been changed, but at the time it went live, we sent out this tweet:

@CalAthletics, please make sure you spell@harperkamp the Golden Knight right:bit.ly/zSPXhP He's the hero we deserve.

And Cal Athletics then responded with a response that was incredibly confusing to me:

@GoldenBlogs thanks for pointing out. It's an AP recap not written by us. I'll let our staff know. Go Bears!

Ironically sudden record scratch

Dog with droopy jowls makes high pitched noise of incredulousness

Kramer enters Jerry's apartment, sees tweet, screams "YAAAAAAAAGGGGHHH!"

OK, now, back to reality. It was an unfortuante typo. Typos happen all the time. I remember seeing a headline at CalBears.com a week or so ago that noted how the "basketbal" team had won. Unfortunate, but people make mistakes. I don't want to crush your perception of me, but I've certainly made my fair share of mistakes in life. Like that time I applied to Stanford early decision. Big mistake, that.

The bigger issue here isn't the minor typographical error, but, instead the fact that we are cutting and pasting AP reports to the CalBears.com website, apparently sight unseen. I was not aware of this and the reality is that I bet many of you were not, either. The Associated Press has a far different role than CalBears.com. The AP is designed to create objective stories about events for the purpose of educating people. CalBears.com is designed to promote Cal Athletics and convince people to buy tickets.

In these times of extreme budget duress, we need CalBears.com not to be a source for objective facts, but a North Korea style propaganda outfit. If people go to CalBears.com, they need to read about how "DEAR LEADER Michael Montgomery led our valiant team of luminous perfect beings of light in a GLORIOUS VICTORY over the arch villains to the South!"

I am only partially exaggerating.

CalBears.com should have stories that promote Cal Athletics 100%, no matter what happens on the field. If we win, IT IS THE GREATEST WIN OF ALL TIME. If we lose, but barely, WE HAD A HARD FOUGHT, MORAL VICTORY! If we get blown out, PLAYER X HAD AN AMAZING GAME AND THAT ONE TOUCHDOWN WE SCORED WAS UNBELIEVABLE!

Now, I understand that using the AP feed might be cheaper than having professional writers. But Cal doesn't necessarily need professional writers. We have a limitless supply of slave labor. I call them college students. What about hiring some to do it as "interns" (i.e. you don't have to pay them and they are so excited to have the opportunity they'll do whatever you say). Or maybe give them college credit! There is a way to use the 30,000 young people desperate for a job in today's economy on campus to our advantage. THERE JUST HAS TO BE!

Even when the AP doesn't necessarily screw up, they still aren't going to do the best job of promoting Cal Athletics. Check out this story about the Cal-USC game:

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Harper Kamp scored 19 points, Allen Crabbe had 18 and California cruised to a 75-49 victory over Southern California on Thursday night.

Crabbe went 8 of 12 from the floor and Kamp was 9 of 11. Cal, the Pac-12's top-shooting team, shot 55.7 percent from the floor.

Justin Cobbs scored 10 points and freshman David Kravish grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds for the Golden Bears (19-6, 9-3), who outscored the Trojans 40-20 over the final 20 minutes.

Maurice Jones led USC (6-19, 1-11) with 17 points. Byron Wesley added 11.
Crabbe, a Los Angeles native, played in front of a large contingent of supporters. He opened the game by hitting his first five shots to account for 11 of Cal's first 17 points.

After Crabbe carried Cal in the first half, Kamp took over coming out of break, scoring 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting during one stretch.

That is not an excerpt from the story. That IS the story! Cal beats USC in men's basketball to sweep them on the year and the story is a handful of paragraphs long. I admit that the USC men's basketball is REALLY bad this year. They've only won one game. But it is USC, a hated rival school. Beating them in ANYTHING is a big deal! That is a big opportunity for Cal to really promote the Athletics brand and it is wasted on a short, mostly useless piece from an outside agency.

Yes, I realize that there might be some potential for a little Baghdad Bob-ism here (i.e. the Cal story is so outlandish in comparison to the actual events that the source loses credibility). However, that only really comes in to play if Cal gets blown out and the CalBears.com story tries to make it sound like Cal dominated. If Cal gets blown out, the story should focus on positives, like a great game out of a player or players. Yes, you'd have to mention the score etc, but even in losses, there are positives.

For example, here is the story from the 2011 Cal-UCLA game, one of the worst losses of the Tedford era. UCLA had just been flat out humiliated on national TV against a pathetic Arizona team. Half of its offense was suspended due to fighting, including most of the wide receivers.

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - Freshman safety Tevin McDonald made the first three interceptions of his college career, Derrick Coleman scored three touchdowns, and UCLA bounced back from one of its most embarrassing losses in years to beat California, 31-14, on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

McDonald's interceptions set up two touchdowns and a field goal for the Bruins (4-4, 3-2 Pac-12), who took the heat off much-maligned coach Rick Neuheisel, at least for the time being, with their most impressive performance of the season.

The Bruins scored 24 of their 31 points after turnovers in handing Cal (4-4, 1-4) its fourth loss in five games. The Bears committed five turnovers, four on interceptions thrown by Zach Maynard, who was 14 of 30 for 199 yards.

The vast majority of that relates to UCLA doing great. Even if it is about UCLA doing mediocre or poorly, the story is on CalBears.com. It should be about Cal, not UCLA. Now, the end of the story (if anybody stuck around to look at the end, considering how UCLA-centric the opening was) reads like this:

D.J. Campbell paced Cal on defense with a career-high 11 tackles and his second fumble recovery in as many games. Campbell picked up the fumble when UCLA muffed a punt at the outset of the second half. The fumble recovery preceded Anderson's touchdown to pull the Bears within three.

While the Bruins held standout receiver Marvin Jones to just one catch for 11 yards, extending his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 33, Anthony Miller stepped up big for the Bears, producing a career-high-tying five catches for a season-high 67 yards.

Cal's All-American candidate Keenan Allen once again led the Bears in receiving with seven receptions for 83 yards. He also had one rush for 12 yards.

So, there you go. Even in a disastrous loss, there were some bright spots. D.J. Campbell played great. Anthony Miller and Keenan Allen had good days. Let's focus on that. Lead the story off with that stuff. It's not exactly "CAL BEATS UCLA!" but it appears to be the best we have. "D.J. Campbell has great game against UCLA." "Keenan Allen with 95 years against UCLA Defense." It's not necessarily denying the loss, just shifting the focus.

I could go on all day! There are SO many examples of this at the CalBears.com website. These are just a few I thought were pertinent. Looking at other stories that relate to non-revenue sports, they do not appear to be written by the AP and are more promotional than objective. That is great! But football and men's basketball are the engine for our athletics program. People are going to come to CalBears.com primarily to read about those sports!

So, my question is, why is Cal using AP reports and can Cal dump the AP and create its own stories in house that help better promote Cal Athletics? There might be a contract between Cal and the AP that limits our ability to dump them for a certain period of time. That would be unfortunate, but wouldn't be surprising, because the AP probably wants to protect itself. Oh well.

What are your thoughts on this, dear readers? Should CalBears.com use the AP reports for objective stories? Or should we pump out propaganda pieces? Or something else altogether? Thanks for reading and GO BEARS!

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