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What is wrong with cricinfo?

by Bored Guest

At the outset, I would like to declare that I have not worked for cricinfo or any of the other cricket broadcasting companies. I am what the management consultants will refer to ESPN-cricinfo bosses as their end-user. Nothing more than that.

In a day and age when the traditional media are given a run for their money by the transparency of the internet and the strength of crowdsourcing, cricket coverage has been sadly left behind. Office with dedicated internet lines, access to twitter and FB on mobiles, it is way easier to know the live score today compared to smuggling an old transistor radio into class in the olden days. The success of internet has been widely accepted. When ESPN runs a #CLT20 to show on their live coverage, you can be sure, opinions and popularity of them on the internet is not taken lightly.

This brings me to my question. Do we have good cricket coverage in India? The television channels have become experts in showing 5 ball overs, footer tracker ads, intrusive ads and insipid commentary. So, that means from purely a business perspective, there is a chance for the internet to stand up and provide a good viewing experience of a cricket match. Has anyone succeeded in doing this ?

This bring me to cricinfo, easily the ‘home of cricket' on the web. Today, it is ESPN cricinfo. A bunch of us frequently rant on twitter about the double standards practised by CI. Even a cursory glance at some of the articles on CI will tell you that IPL is the root cause of the great bubonic plague and the great economic depression. I am not here to defend the IPL. But a logical extension of this attitude should lead to the same treatment for the ‘Nokia CL T20’, but that isn’t the case. Also, remember IPL is never the DLF IPL, but CL T20 is Nokia CL T20. If you are searching for answers, well, ESPN-star has coverage rights for one of them. I will let you decide which one. It is neither a DLF maximum nor a Toshiba power hit, it is a bloody six. That’s all. My issue is picking on one and leaving the other.

I remember Sambit Bal talking on one of Harsha's podcasts about Advertisement on TV and how it was irritating him, apparently pop-up Ads on CI home page are not considered cringe worthy. There was a post some months back By Sharda Urga that suggested Dhoni was an illiterate village boy, hence doesn’t understand DRS. The tone in all these dishonest editorial pieces is one of projecting the site as the holy saint and saviour of cricket. I have no problem with biased coverage but at least don't take the moral high ground that you are here to save cricket. Cricket will evolve and save itself. It doesn’t need your help. Thank you.

Other examples of this dishonesty in coverage and editorial pieces can be seen in how news item related to RCB/KSCA are dealt with. Mazhar Majeed and the whole fixing saga, Conflict of Interest of administrators and ex-players, selection issues. CI never tries to give the news as it is and present all sides of the stories and its interpretations in a balanced way. Do we need one such cricket website ?

For the lack of an alternative, it is still the biggest cricket site. There are numerous other cricket service website/blogs around, pitchinv, holdingwilley, thecricketcouch, boredcricket, twitter feeds of a whole lot of folks and many, many more. Not all of them are error free and perfect, but the readership that they enjoy and the ‘market demand ' says something about the biggest player. We are as a nation used to such products. Everyone has an agenda - the media, politicians, sports administrators, selectors, board –everyone. Maybe I am wrong to expect honesty from a cricket website. Maybe.

you can follow him @girsubra on twitter


Anonymous said...

Top article. Nails the issue where it needs to.

yogi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
yogi said...

I am not sure of how you differentiate editorial dishonesty and biasedness ?

But some of the mud you sling on Cricinfo sticks on your own blog too. For ex., mere references to issues without being specific (isn't that dishonesty too). You say that they don't "present all sides of the stories" but isn't that true of this write-up on cricinfo too ? You haven't tried to present cricinfo's side of the story right ?

I wonder whether the quest for balance et al is an utopian one. Basically, the opinions of a bunch of biased individuals will always be biased. I think the minimum is of not mixing news and opinion. Cricinfo's news pieces have a fair bit of opinions brashly or subtly mixed in them. This is the best they could guarantee to a wide spectrum of audience. For the accusation of biased is always going to stay.

I am not too sure if other news websites (even non-Indian) have better standards. I think the good ones at best de-link news from opinion and have some good columnists for opinions.

Again, blogs provide individual perspectives but nothing comprehensive as Cricinfo. That is why will be hard for anyone to leave it despite hating many things on the site. It will take mammoth effort to build one. There are alternative live commentary sites - cricbuzz for one.

My personal favourites are Gleanings, I was there, some interviews, few columns, Ask Stevens, Lists, Martin Williamson's, On this Day and some Page 2 stuff. Now you can see why despite their news inaccuracies and some bad columns, i tolerate them. There is a fair bit to enjoy especially when it comes to cricketing history.

girsubra said...

@Anon : Thanks

@The_guy_who_deleted_the_comment : Thanks for increasing the comment count

@Yogi : Thanks for the detailed response.I am glad that you think the post warranted the response.

Reg references to the issues.There is plenty to write,and each of these deserves a separate post and the regular reader of CI,might not need them.Intent was to only start a discussion.Intent was not mudslinging. I,obviously,like CI,otherwise I wouldnt bother.

Again,as I said,the issue of bias is complicated.By definition,all opinions might be inherently biased,but the Eg of making a hue and cry over TV Ads when the site also makes money over the same thing and given that the parent channel is also not a holy cow in this regard,reeks of dishonesty to me.That was my point.

yogi said...

There are at least two types of CI regular readers - Type 1 is like you, who knows its errors but reads it for certain sections. Myself too, to a lesser extent. Type 2 are people who are perhaps reading mainly CI and they are more likely to need the detailed references on various issues. They might not be aware of biased news et al.

Point agreed on Ads ! But yes, to me the distinction between bias and intellectual dishonesty is very delicate and many a time the latter leads to former.

I am sorry for using the word "mudslinging". That was in a hurry due to lack of better word at that point of time. I regretted it later.

I only removed my comment and reposted it so as to activate receiving follow-up comments on email.

girsubra said...

Yeah Yogi,maybe detailed posts on each of them can happen