I hesitate to link to Murray Chass, especially to a story regarding yesterday’s mini-strike/delay caused by the Red Sox sticking up for their team staffers (in fact, this post is not about yesterday’s events and I’d prefer they not become the subject of this post), but buried in his column today is a nugget that reveals quite a bit about reporting, or, at least, his reporting — I hesitate to generalize. Deep in the story Chass offers this, regarding his attitude towards reporting on baseball’s previous labor strife and, perhaps, his relationship to those outside his privileged position in the world of sports:
(Note: Unlike most everyone else who was affected, I looked forward to labor negotiations, strikes and lockouts. They provided a periodic change of pace and a challenge to report them.)
While I find this unsurprising it is akin, at least to me, to weather reporters who actually seem excited at the prospect of a deadly hurricane, who seem to bounce on their way over to the map on the wall, jazzed by the maelstrom and chaos caused by angry low pressure systems. While I understand the fascination with the chaotic, with the different, there is always something unseemly about this subtextual glee: there is danger, harm in these storms. With Chass, the analog is that labor strife in baseball has real economic consequences, and I am not just speaking about players losing their salaries or owners losing their revenue. There are untold employees who rely on baseball to either make a living or supplement their wages: park workers, vendors, business owners who lease near or adjacent to stadia. Not everyone involved in baseball is a fatcat executive in a luxury box who can backslap an all-star, and not every player is pulling down millions a year. So while I understand that, for Chass, there was a challenge in the reportage and an energizing change of pace for him as a journalist, I find it quite selfish and elitist, quite callous that he would actually “look forward” to events that might inflict tremendous suffering on scores of people.