Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Controlling the Message

It got kind of lost among the NCAA basketball games this weekend (was that the plan all along or just a coincidence?), but Tiger Woods gave his first interview since he announced his return to golf.

Tiger received some criticism for that announcement; many said he was trying to control events by simply making a statement and not taking any questions. In the same way, Woods is still trying to control the media messages: on Sunday, he picked the interviewers and put a 5-minute limit on the questions (although, there was no limit on what the interviewers could ask).

In this day and age of Facebook, Twitter and personal web pages (which Tiger used almost exclusively during his hiatus), it's interesting that Woods feels the need to go through the mainstream media to repair his image. It's a telling signal that our 'old' media (television, radio, newspapers, etc.) are still very powerful in terms of influencing public opinion.

Believe me, if Tiger could have fixed all this simply by Tweeting or texting, he would have. Even as they face questions about their own possible demise, the traditional media still have cultural significance, including the power to make or break sports careers. How the traditional media cover Tiger's unfiltered and uncensored appearance at the Masters could go a long way in determining if he can resurrect his public image.


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