Media Monitor: The problem with the T&T media’s World Cup coverage; aite!

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The Trinidad Express probably thinks that the World Cup craze is so all-pervasive that they don’t need to bother too much about the rest of the paper. Here is a sentence from last Friday’s Editorial, headlined “Facts the antidote to fake news:”

Evidently hot under the collar, he—the reference was to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi—used adjectives such as “foolishness”, “stupidness”, “bogus nonsense”, “false allegations”, plus “fake” to repudiate the claims proferred by Senator Mark.”

Photo: Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.

I am not certain that one can properly “proffer” claims but I am 100% certain that, although the adjective “fake” can sometimes be a noun—as in “That painting is not a genuine original; it’s a fake”—the other four of the five “adjectives” above are indisputably nouns.

Shame on you, Express. Did you perhaps have a visiting editor from the other place last week?

Or maybe there’s something going on with adjectives in the media. The i95.5fm newsreader on Monday morning talked about “heavy, torrential rain.” I tried it without the comma but that did not really help me to understand why i95.5fm thought they needed both adjectives.

Anyway, it is a fact that, since June 14, football fans don’t really want to hear about anything else but the 2018 World Cup. Which might explain why Tony Lee thought that the Dale and Tony Morning Show should get in on the act.

“Which do you prefer,” he asked as yesterday’s I poll question, “the result at the end of 90 minutes or the result after penalty kicks?”

Which would have been fine if he had stopped there. He did not.

“Yes,” he added, “or no?”

Photo: England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (left) saves a penalty kick from Colombia forward Carlos Bacca during World Cup Round of 16 action on 3 July 2018.
(Copyright FIFA/Getty)

Maybe it makes sense to Tony Lee for the answer to a question beginning with “which” to have a yes or no answer; but it certainly does not make sense to normal speakers of English.

Not included in that number is another Lee, Don of i95.5fm fame. When a man pronounces his own three-letter name as if it were a four-letter word (“Dawn”), you really can’t expect too much from him in terms of the pronunciation of other people’s names. Or place names.

But after Croatia beat the Danes on kicks from the penalty spot in the Round of 16 on Sunday, it still came as a surprise to hear what, two weeks into the tournament, Dawn made of Ivan “Rakitic” and “Nizhny Novgorod.”

And he reported that, in the course of that game, Croatia’s Luca Modric—he got that name right—managed to “spun” a penalty.


Thanks, Desha! Coming up in sport: Kyle Greaux upsets Jereem Richards in 200m at National Championships. Olivier Giroud doubtful for France’s second round encounter.


Photo: Doh dig nothing…
Denmark captain and defender Simon Kjaer (left) offers a hand to France forward Olivier Giroud during their goalless draw on 26 June 2018.
(Copyright FIFA/Getty)

It’s another evening in sloppiness paradise and so TV6’s sports anchor Joel Villafana is in his element. Frankly, I can’t remember being so grateful for the scheduling as when Russia eliminated Spain on a Sunday.

Igor Akinfeev, Sergei Ignasevich and Artem Dzyuba were names that had to come up in any report on that game. And it was entirely possible that the names of both current Spanish coach Fernando Hierro—not everyone apparently knows that all aitches are silent in Spanish—and his predecessor Julen Lopetegui would come up in the report.


And there is no bigger blissful murderer of names in all local sport coverage than Villafana. I mean, “Greaux” and “Giroud” are homophones? “Lopetegui” becomes “Low-pay-guy”?

Who dares swear that poor Andre Boucaud did not deliberately underachieve for the Warriors because of the repeated butchery of his name by the local sporting media fraternity?


Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Andre Boucaud volleys home the second goal in their 2-0 win over Cuba at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Copyright Christian Peterson/AFP 2015)

But Villafana, alas, has no monopoly on sloppiness. Have you or anyone you know had the stomach to watch CNC3’s World Cup coverage? Congratulations. With that lead lining, you’re guaranteed never to get food poisoning.

I mean, you spend tens of thousands of dollars to purchase the rights to broadcast the World Cup and then you leave the programming details in the hands of amateurs, who are very long on ignorance and short, pitifully short, on imagination.

My sense is that whoever came up with the format for CNC3’s coverage was half-inspired by the Bible.

“Let there be light,” one reads in Genesis, “and there was light.”

“Let there be analysis,” one hears on CNC3; we are still waiting for the second half.

“Russia,” Robert Dumas informed televiewers on the day of the hosts’ Round of 16 victory over Spain, “played in their lucky Stadium.”

A friend of mine thinks he was trying to avoid pronouncing Luzhniki but that is not a view I share. Another friend who is a CNC3 regular and whose judgement I nonetheless trust is certain that Dumas’ understanding of sport is deficient enough for him to genuinely believe in luck as a serious criterion for assessing outcomes.

Photo: Russia players congratulate goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev after their World Cup Round of 16 win over Spain on 1 July 2018.
(Copyright FIFA/Getty)

But forget the television, bad as it is; it’s on the radio that World Cup fare hits its nadir. One half of the father and son team keeps identifying players as “the man” and the other half offers some of the emptiest, most nonsensical “analysis” imaginable.

The reason, it seems to me, has nothing to do with his lack of footballing knowledge but with his insistence on making comments when there is no incident or situation that requires comment.

Frankly, the attitude reminds me of columnists who are paid by the word and thus produce the fluffiest, most insubstantial, most inane copy so as to beef up their final earnings.

I have not so much as looked at a Guardian since Michelle-Lee Ahye and her partner were so gratuitously splashed all over the front page but I assume that you can still find a fine example of that in the Guardian’s sports pages.

Radio listeners were informed that “It would have been a goal if it had gone in.”

Oh really? Do tell!

Photo: Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saves with his legs during his team’s Round of 16 win over Denmark on 1 July 2018.
(Copyright FIFA/Getty)

And although I have to confess that geography has never been my strong point—the GCE examiners of the 1960’s were very clear on that—I was still surprised to learn from one of the radio commentators that “Switzerland is in Eastern Europe.”

I concluded that there must have been a polar shift just before the start of the World Cup.

Another of the commentators shared this startling insight: “Uruguay will be playing to win rather than to lose.”

I don’t know if that also holds good for the quarterfinals, in which they take on France. But I shall be watching with great interest.

And the volume control still on zero.

Photo: England football supporters take an optimistic view of their team’s chances at the Russia World Cup during Round of 16 action against Colombia on 3 July 2018.
(Copyright FIFA/Getty)
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About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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  1. I watched 3 matches and decided to use my computer and streamed German and English TV. It was a bit unconfortable but I received well recheched infos, backgrounds and no Kindergarten Entertainment. Don’t they have watch dogs at these local TV stations who have a healthy critical mindset to realize that the WC shows are redicoulus?

  2. Hopefully, with a postmortem there will be a recognition for room for improvement for an overall improved service/product.

  3. Imagine being so petty and purile that failure to pronounce difficult names is seen as significant enough to “spoil” one’s enjoyment of it. ‍♂️

  4. The article not that impressive either

  5. Luckily there is Sportsmax on Digicel & Youtube to get analysis from. But coverage rating I would give them a 4/10

  6. I think their contract actually is up after this tournament. Let’s hope someone else gets the rights

  7. I don’t get why CNCS feel they had to make their own pre/halftime/post show when there are coverage and feeds that provide those with actual experts, past players and even players who didn’t make it to their respective teams. I would have LOVED to hear their insight during the game because they would help to make the experience so much more enjoyable and rich. CNC3 could have still run a ‘local’ World Cup show after the match if they so wanted to parade or involve the average man…but their ‘analysis’ robbed most almost all Trinis of expert analysis and we’ll never get that back. Next World Cup they’re probably gonna do away with the English commentator and let Corneal commentate…just to make it feel more Trini nah.

  8. Give the guys a chance. A seed has been planted. With proper nurturing it can evolve into a productive tree.

    • I guess. After all, I already have grandchildren so maybe I’l have great-grandchildren who will benefit if this bunch is indeed given time.

  9. Scotty Ranking

    I’ve been sorely tempted to offer myself up as a candidate for the CNC3 commentary lineup. Don’t think I can do worse than the anal cyst, oops, I mean ‘analysis’ currently on offer. Like these ‘gems’:
    The halftime score is nil apiece. (How one gets apiece of nothing is beyond me.)
    This is a game that this team needed to *won* if they want to top the group. (Trini grammar – the infinitive past tense)
    We see from the statistics that the team enjoyed 73% possession. That means they had the majority of the ball. (If ever we needed Captain Obvious to our rescue, it was at that point!)

  10. Today they said England has never reached the semifinals since 1966

  11. It is clear to see that you could identify all of the flaws. Therefore, my question to you is… Why don’t you be part of the solution and offer your services since you know you can do a much better job? We are quick to judge, by never quick to help.

  12. Lol Lol…i really can’t help but be amused…because this article is so true about a lot of things that is wrong about sports media in T&T. Being a Sports Journalist myself it hurts that very little effort is put into the research of how names of foreign sportsmen and women are pronounced…it hurts even more when it is being read (butchered) by those who have been around for ages and still contrive to mess-up a sportscast. All is required is asking someone more knowledgeable or paying attention to the Commentators of the various European League that we watch week-in week-out…so is it pride…or is it that we feel we know everything.
    Regarding that Network that is bringing the World Cup matches…someone dropped the ball where the planning for the World Cup Programme is concerned…i am sure it has been Months they knew they were going to be bringing the matches and required an in-studio panel…and that is the best they can come up with???…Copying the name of the English Premier League Programme. Maybe the less said about that the better.

  13. Thank you so much for this piece.
    I normally cringe when i hear Don Lee “reading” the sports on I95.5
    Clearly no homework is done on pronunciation and research is done by the presenters at most media houses.

  14. I refuse to listen to them. They’ve really spoilt this World Cup for me

  15. I don’t think that the owners of the media houses listen to the broadcasts, but if they do, they simply don’t care.

  16. Already had low expectations of the analysis, so not too bothered by that. Is the actual visual quality of the broadcast that hurt me ☹

  17. Glad to see that I was not the only one who is totally bothered by the poor standards of reporting by the CNC team. It is amazing that Robert Dumas could not even pronounce Romelu Lukaku’s name correctly in Belgium’s second game. He is possibly Belgium’s most news worthy player since his move to Manchester United one year ago.

    In that same game one of the local CNC personalities called Tunisia an East African country.

    The poor animals they have predicting the results are actually the most reasonable aspect of their coverage.

  18. Reahana Mohammed you were saying? Youll get a good laugh

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