Drawing on his experiences as Major League Baseball commissioner, a University of Wisconsin alumnus came to campus yesterday to address the connection between baseball and today’s changing media.
Allan “Bud” Selig graduated from UW in 1956 with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science. He went on to purchase the Pilots, which then became the Milwaukee Brewers, bringing baseball back to the state’s biggest city. He is now the ninth commissioner of Major League Baseball.
In his job as commissioner, Selig said he has had many experiences with the media. He called baseball “a sport of writers,” and said reporters have more access to baseball than any other sport.
“I view being responsive to the media as a major part of my responsibilities,” he said. “When you are in a position of leadership, it is important to be accountable and transparent. If you are available to the press, when there is a challenge, you will be given the benefit of the doubt.”
Selig spoke about personal examples of availability in turbulent times. He talked about issues with the Wild Card, The Mitchell Report amid the steroid scandal and executive decisions made after 9/11, all of which garnered great amounts of media attention.
Selig also addressed the changing world of media, and said the immediacy of the media now is a lot greater but has less depth. He said he believes with much of the news now being broken online, it leaves room for it to be sloppier and ill-informed.
However, when asked about his traditional ways by an audience member and how this affects his decisions, he said the industry has to change to some degree to make the sport better without compromising its integrity and history.
Molly Morrissey, a student in UW’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, attended the lecture and said the information in the presentation was relevant to her studies.
“I thought how he addressed the 24-hour news cycle and the effect it has on every aspect of news was interesting. I especially liked how he touched on baseball as a social institution, directly tying in the 24-hour news cycle and demand by people to be updated,” she said.
At the end, Selig opened up his presentation to questions from the audience. Questions addressed topics including Selig’s past, changes in baseball and UW’s baseball team, as well as a large variety of other topics.
After his retirement, Selig plans to return to the UW campus to write his memoir and help contribute to his legacy in the history department.
The Taylor Lecture Series welcomes distinguished communications professionals to UW, and is held each year in the honor of Robert Taylor, a longtime journalism professor, former chief public relations officer for the university and a one-time university vice president.