In a little beat of local sports media news, George Thomas, who had been the Akron Beacon Journal's Cavs beat writer for two years, has been taken off the beat by the paper. He's still with the paper, though it's unclear what his new duties will entail.
Jason Lloyd, a recent sports writing hire by the ABJ, will be covering the Cavs for the paper.
Here are some quotes Thomas gave to Journal-Isms:
"They gave me two years, and they didn't understand the importance of an African American athlete being able to [relate to] someone who may not have all the same life experiences, but can understand where they're coming from," James said. "Having grown up in a similar fashion, I can understand," he said. He citied [sic], for example, his desire to own items his family could not afford when he was a child.
For all that, Thomas, who has been at the Beacon Journal for 11 years, acknowledges covering the Cavs wasn't his ideal. "My dream job is always going to be a movie critic, but those jobs aren't available anymore, he said, "and the industry has essentially sold its soul to the bottom line, and that is too bad, because I was a helluva movie critic."
Thomas has always been a swell guy to me and I thought he did a solid job on the beat. Here's to wishing Thomas success in whatever endeavor the ABJ sends him on next.
Now, the rest of the Journal-Isms post addresses the lack of any African Americans covering the Cavs for local media outlets. They got Chris Broussard and Duane Rankin on the record to speak about that issue.
"The NFL is almost 70 percent black, the NBA is almost 80 percent black. African Americans have put a huge imprint on sports," said writer Chris Broussard, who started out at the Plain Dealer and went on to the Beacon Journal, the New York Times and ESPN. He says he takes nothing away from the white sportswriters covering the teams, but "not to have any African Americans is insulting. It's stereotypical. You're good enough to play sports, but not good enough to write about it."
Broussard points out the city of Cleveland's 52.5 percent black population, and said the absence of African American sportswriters was brought home to him last month when the Plain Dealer ran pictures of five of its sportswriters who commented on James winning the NBA's Most Valuable Player award — and all were white. There are also no black sportswriters on Cleveland or Akron radio, he said.
Duane Rankin of the Erie (Pa.) Times-News, who travels 90 miles to cover the Cavs, mainly in the postseason, told Journal-isms it was jarring to see black sportswriters from out of state but not from Ohio.
"Go in Cleveland's locker room? If it's not a national reporter, say a David Aldridge or Chris Broussard or Michael Lee from the Washington Post, it was just George Thomas from Ohio papers," he said.
Certainly a valid point of concern and one that merits discussion — that being the lack of African Americans in the sports newsrooms of the PD, ABJ, local sports radio stations, and other outlets.
It also makes you wonder how poor Brian Windhorst manages to do his job at all, ghostly white schlub that he is.
Anyway, I've got an email out to Jason Lloyd. If/when he gets back to me I'll fill you in on the newest Cavs beat writer you'll need to follow.
(UPDATE: George Thomas got in touch to make it clear he's not bitter. "I'm not bitter," he said. Pretty clear and to the point.)
Follow me on Twitter: @vincethepolack.
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