By JUSTIN DEMARCO
Any casual sports fan, especially on Long Island, knows the name Rick DiPietro. He’s the punchline to just about any New York Islanders joke. He’s the athlete signed to possibly the most ridiculous contract in the history of professional sports and hit a new personal low this week when the Isles waived him.
Kevin Maher, you ask? Never heard of him. That was until 24 hours ago, when the News 12 Long Island Sports Director went one-on-one with the now Bridgeport Sound Tigers goalie and pounced on the juicy rebounds DiPietro spit out.
In a flash, DiPietro once again became a victim of bad luck and Maher ended up at the right place at the right time and cashed in immediately when he took to Twitter to reveal his big scoop.
DiPietro told me Isles waiving him felt like, “they ripped my heart out, stabbed it, set it on fire and flushed it down the toilet.”
— Kevin Maher (@KMaherNews12) February 28, 2013
DiPietro also admitted injuries, losing and fan hatred over the past 3 years made him think about killing himself at one point.
— Kevin Maher (@KMaherNews12) February 28, 2013
Working for an organization that prides itself on being “As Local As Local News Gets,” Maher struck journalistic gold. His higher-ups at the station must have applauded his efforts and given him a gold star for the day. He had a viable SPORTS story for the station to run with. News 12 could air something fresh and with a personal touch, as opposed to the gloom-and-doom murder, traffic and weather updates Hurricane Sandy and Superstorm Nemo offered as of late.
A quick look at Maher’s LinkedIn summary reveals all you need to know about the man.
Award winning, experienced and self-motivated sportscaster with vast knowledge of creating quality on-air product with emphasis on being informative, profitable, personable and fun. Able to adapt to changing times of the multi-platform sports media industry while providing behind-the-scenes leadership, team building and success.”
In this story about DiPietro’s struggles, Maher flexes those journalistic muscles that he’s so proud of on the social networking site. He’s clearly “informative” and “profitable” with this dark story and even tries to be “personable and fun” with his goofy stand-up on the ice. He even seems to crack a smile when talking about DP’s troubles. And, of course, Maher clearly knows how to “adapt to changing times of the multi-platform sports media industry” since he’s on Twitter and all.
What scares me most about this story is that Maher is “profiting” (to use his own words) on a person who is possibly at the lowest point in his life. Sure, DiPietro’s bank account is probably in much better shape than Maher’s, but that’s not what’s important. It’s about the respect you have for others; the ability to see someone down and out and offer to help them up, rather than kick them when they’re on the ground. As the sports director of the station, Maher is afforded the final judgment on how the piece runs and he decided to spin the story to his liking.
As far as I’m concerned, Maher is the equivalent of the paparazzi who wait for the Lindsay Lohans’ and Amanda Bynes’ of the world outside of clubs so they’ll have photos and a story to sell the next morning. Sure, I understand that news is a business and soundbites like DP’s sell, but Maher never gave DiPietro a chance to clarify where he was coming from in his news package that aired on News 12. Instead of seeing the personal side of the story and letting a downtrodden man suffer alone, he exposed the tragedy, which will only deepen the wounds DiPietro is already trying to heal.
Maher could have very easily talked about DiPietro’s resilience and maturity based on the clips from the “extended interview” found on the News 12 site. DiPietro appeared extremely tired and frustrated in the full interview. He also had as upbeat an attitude one can have considering the circumstances.
Listen, if my injuries over the last couple of years have taught me anything, it’s to not take anything for granted, and to truly have fun with what your given and what I’ve been blessed with. Playing professional hockey for a living, I’m surrounded by a great group of guys. I’m healthy. My body feels good for the first time so it is what it is. You live and you learn and you get stronger. All I can do is work hard and get better.”
DP was also clearly comfortable with Maher, and obviously too trusting, as he even had a laugh with the reporter when he said, “I can’t sit here and tell you what the future is going to be. I say as a goalie, all you can do is control how hard you work and how cool your equipment looks. Right now I feel pretty good about the equipment and the work ethic. So, I just have to keep doing that. I just want to go back to having fun and enjoying myself.”
That’s pretty darn funny. A great insight into the jokester that DiPietro is. Of course, Maher didn’t use that sound on tape in his story though. He didn’t offer DiPietro an opportunity to truly explain himself and even worse, Maher left out the point that DiPietro was really trying to make about his situation – that he’s extremely lucky to be married to such a supportive and loving woman.
“Luckily for me I have a good support system,” DiPietro told Maher. “I’ve got a great wife. She’s definitely been the drill sergeant through the whole thing. Stay strong. Keep your eye on the main goal. Stay focused. Work hard. So, she’s helped out quite a bit and I give her all the credit.”
The fact that Jamie Stuart credited the New York Post with the update that DiPietro’s comments were not to be taken as literal, tells you all you need to know about Maher’s reporting and News 12’s stance on the story.
“So, how seriously should we take DiPietro’s comments about wanting to drive off the Throgs Neck Bridge?” Stuart asked the viewers. “Well, the New York Post is reporting that DiPietro said he was being facetious making the suicide comment, but you can decide for yourself. To hear more of the DP interview go to channel 612 and click on ‘News 12 Extra.'” All Stuart or Maher had to do was ask DiPietro how he truly felt, but instead they’re trying to keep the momentum of the story pushing forward. No one cared about the TRUTH. Only ratings.
Did Maher technically do anything wrong? Absolutely not. He made a name for himself and drew viewers to News 12. He did his job. Unfortunately, it’s a sad reflection on what “journalism” means today.
At the end of the day, Maher’s going to have to look himself in the mirror and know that he’s “profiting” (to use his words again) on another man’s sorrows. If it was me, I would’ve tried to take the high road or at the very least taken more time with the story and asked DiPietro if he would like to do a longer form interview about his struggles or if he had anything to clarify. I’d be interested to hear what life has been like for DP’s wife, his family and his teammates. Journalism, at least as I was taught, was about truth. I learned that my freshmen year in Journalism 101. Maher definitely isn’t familiar nor interested in that word, hence the lack of his “reporting” here.
Then again, look at where it’s gotten me and look at where it has gotten Maher.
So, I guess, I should really be saluting you… Bravo Kevin Maher. I guess you really do know how to “adapt to changing times of the multi-platform sports media industry.”