The Hockey News is today's main Twitter character
An errant tweet highlights lack of diversity in both media and the NHL.
Perhaps the second-most important tweet ever, it offers both advice and context to how Twitter, and the world-at-large, works. Don’t be the main character.
I’d argue the most important tweet, Rule No. 1 of Twitter, whose origins escape me and one that several hundred million each day (including yours truly) ignores: Never Tweet. By never tweeting, the odds of you being the main character on Twitter drops significantly.
Today, it’s likely that The Sporting News, a Canadian hockey publication that entered a content distribution relationship with Maven, a media company that has picked off the remains of some of the media world’s former crown jewels like Sports Illustrated and run by longtime media executive Ross Levinson (he of Yahoo, Fox News and Guggenheim fame), will be a main character for ignoring Rule No. 1.
The publication tweeted, then deleted after about a half-hour of merciless dunks, the following:
Going big on diversity by putting a white player on the cover.
According to WDET, as of January 2020,
less than 5 percent of the NHL is made up of players of color — that’s 43 players out of more than 700 in the league.
In October, FiveThirtyEight did a deep dive into poking holes into the league’s “Hockey is for everyone” campaign:
There’s ample evidence that the NHL knows it has a racism problem. Its “Hockey Is For Everyone” campaign is proof of this; its slate of Black History Month commercials — which featured no Black players in 2020 — is proof of this; its mobile history museum, which tells the story of the Coloured Hockey League, an all-Black league that formed in Nova Scotia in 1895 and is responsible for the invention of the slapshot and the butterfly goalie stance, is proof of this; the white paper it produced in 2018 in conjunction with the Brookings Institution — which acknowledged that demographics in North America are shifting, that 44 percent of American millennials are not white and that the league needs to get better at reaching out to Black people and people of color — is proof of this too.
The Hockey News’ brethren, Sports Illustrated, wrote in January how players are stepping up where the league isn’t in regards to addressing racism.
With this backdrop, it’s hard to understand why a hockey publication would, when touting it wanted “to go BIG” about diversity, put a white player on its cover. I reached out to the publication for comment, but haven’t heard back.
The outlet did, however, take to Twitter to apologize, where it said that it “mistakenly labeled ‘The Diversity Issue’ in a previous tweet” :
However, the URL says otherwise; that it was planned to be ‘diversity’ content.
It’s unclear how diverse The Hockey News staff is, or if someone raised their hand to say maybe this isn’t a great idea.
This, of course, isn’t the first time (nor will it be the last time) there is a disconnect between intent and execution. I’m sure The Hockey News wanted to highlight the league’s Black players, and a quick look on its site there doesn’t seem too much recent content around diversity. There’s a February 11 piece about diversity in college hockey and a story yesterday on P.K. Subban, one of the league’s few Black players, that helpfully ends with this kicker quote:
The down time also gave the Toronto native a chance to reflect on the state of the world in 2020, on a range of topics from the coronavirus pandemic to racial injustice. Subban says it's important to listen and educate himself on what is going on.
“We just have to make sure that we’re all living on this planet together,” he said. “We’re all living in Canada and the United States together. We have to get along and make each other feel comfortable. Getting up every day, being a good citizen, and being able to walk in your own skin, I think that is very important.
“But that is a collective initiative. It is not just down to one group of people, one race, one background or one religion. We need everybody to get on board and be involved and play a role in that.”
Media, which plays an outsize role in shaping our perceptions of reality, needs to step up. From hiring to processes and policies of equality, and all points in between, media companies have spent the last year stumbling towards a change. Whether that change can actually take hold, that story isn’t written yet.
We see it with the obsessive stories about the New York Times newsroom or podcasts about Bon Appetit (if you haven’t listened to Reply All’s coverage on this, please do), but also in the lack of coverage of the lack of diversity in other newsrooms or how magazines photoshop Black and brown people.
We are a long way from parity, and as long as media companies package “diversity” into a single magazine issue or newspaper edition, it will be a long time before equality truly reigns.
Thank you for allowing me in your inbox, today and every day. If you have tips, or thoughts on the newsletter, drop me a line. Or you can follow me on Twitter (yes, yes, I know). If you arrived here via social or through a colleague, please consider signing up. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Some interesting links:
For social media’s positive attributes:
Reddit Is America’s Unofficial Unemployment Hotline (NYT)
For the tech-versus-media debate:
Clubhouse, a Tiny Audio Chat App, Breaks Through (NYT)
For media failing us all:
How ‘American Idol’ Used Claudia Conway (Variety)
Facebook users rarely saw voting misinformation labeled ‘false,’ says study — especially if it came from Trump (The Verge)
For tech policy:
U.S. eyes flurry of new taxes on Amazon, Facebook and Google, trying to force tech to pay its ‘fair share’ (Washington Post)
Big Tech’s Unlikely Next Battleground: North Dakota (NYT)
For content moderation:
Financial Services Companies Join Social Platforms in Moderating Content (Adweek)
For interesting bedfellows:
Exclusive: Gannett, McClatchy team up to sell ads (Axios)
For platform advertising:
TikTok's U.S. ad business roars back as Trump's threats recede (Reuters)