“Will Oregon get the Death Penalty? Details after the break!” I will never forget that promo that radio host for 750 AM (Portland) and sportswriter for OregonLive, John Canzano uttered over the radio. Even as I recoiled in disgust, I would bet he was smiling when he said that. Really — you can hear someone being gleeful as they speak to you and I swear John was really enjoying this.
This was many years back as the Willie Lyles recruiting story broke, and I was driving to appointments with my investment clients in Portland. I wanted to hear if any new information had become public, but that meant I had to listen to the terrible things Canzano had to say about the Oregon football program and Chip Kelly as well. The more I listened, the angrier I got…and I knew he was doing it for higher numbers of listeners and readers. Such vile things he would stoop to…
Those were the formative days of FishDuck.com, as we began to conceptualize the site and how we wanted to operate. Canzano was selling me on what NOT to do, as I swore over the cell phone to a friend how we will never go negative on Oregon — and that oath became a fundamental principle at this site. We do not allow those who comment to be nasty to our writers or fellow readers, and I strongly enforce it on the site. We want a safe environment for all, free of the vulgar and petty nonsense you will see on some sites and message boards.
Listening to John also crystallized for me the third part of our Mission Statement, as we strive to “inform, entertain, and show the love of our beloved Ducks!” Often we have fans of other colleges come in and tell me that, “you guys are homers! You are not objective at all!” I laugh and answer, “guilty as charged; we ARE homers and we make no apology for it. We are Oregon fans writing for fellow Oregon fans, and in our writing we will NOT go negative on the Ducks.”
I am not naive, as I know unsavory stuff happens in every college football program, yet we will not make our bones at the expense of our beloved Ducks. We will focus on the positive — since there is so much of it! We let all the other media sources deal in the negative when it occurs, and we will live with them getting that current scoop.
The High Cost of staying Positive…
“Are you crazy?” One business associate gently lectured me on how negative sells and brings a ton more hits, or visits to the site. Attack the university and those who agree will flood to you as well as those who are incensed, as I was when John Canzano had the Ducks penciled in for the death penalty. It really does work! I was told that nasty comments should be left up on the site as they will start a free-for-all of responses and lots more people reading with all the epithets that follow.
After our first year in operation, I lost my then-business partner over this issue, and I’ve lost some writers along the way as well. It has been costly, but we are not budging from this position, and I accept the consequences of this choice. It is not just an editorial policy or rules of conduct; it is also a way of life, a way of viewing the world and the university that we love so much.
It grieves me to know how mentioning Canzano like this probably helps his career, as even a little impact for him is wrong.
You have to give Canzano credit….
He is an award-winning writer, and has more talent than I could ever hope to attain. Yet it seems that whether his articles are positive or negative, they are meant to jerk your emotions around — whether he uses the heartfelt comeback story, or the proven winning formula of calling for the coach’s head. It works in both directions for him, and is emotionally manipulative in its strategy and intent.
At FishDuck.com–we will not do that.
So you wear a Halo, Charles?
No, I am far from perfect, as I admit to doing some of that nonsense in our early days as I would stray from our Mission Statement on occasion. But we did not do that for long, as I felt slimy publishing something like that or implementing strategies that would utilize the Canzano principles. I learned my lesson and resolved that whether the site is big or small…we would not engage in that behavior. Thus we have John Canzano to thank for guidance and inspiration.
Oh John…not AGAIN?
Sure enough we heard and read John calling for the head of Oregon Head Basketball Coach Dana Altman recently. His article was a lightning rod for hits, and his radio show a huge success as he burned the basketball program with his bile. Just as he was completely wrong with Chip Kelly and the football program, I am quite sure the same will occur later — but long after his ratings reports have passed. The Willie Lyles episode with Canzano helped me to establish FishDuck.com policy, and now his indictments of Dana Altman has helped to confirm it.
Much of what he writes comes across to me as being from the yellowed moral gutter of sports media, and when you look down into it, you will see John Canzano sitting there. He will look up, smile, wink at you, and say, “Made you look!”
Does that mean he wins?
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