Maximum condescension achieved.
Surf watchers are rubbing their eyes in disbelief, this morning, after reading, then re-reading, Stab’s Sam McIntonsh’s stunning admission that the premium surf blog is openly and proudly collaborationist. The usually cool, calm, collected co-founder, as handsome as any man who has ever sauntered though our world, came undone after the latest “surfer interview” featuring World Surf League Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer.
Healthy and honest criticism for studiously avoiding “tough questions” floated instantly on BeachGrit and on Stab’s own comment forum leading McIntosh to let everyone see him sweat in a wildly ill-advised defense titled Risk Reward: The Dickhead Index.
In it, McIntosh declares, in the day of social media, modern media is “essentially worthless” and is only as successful as the access it has. From there, he discusses how Stab received the 2024 World Surf League championship tour schedule a few hours early plus the aforementioned sit down wherein Miley-Dyer was not asked about former CEO Erik Logan’s departure because it would have been “radioactive.”
After a definition of “access journalism,” McIntosh takes the opportunity to boast that Stab holds its editorial meetings at the exclusive Soho House Malibu while patting the subscription website on its back for not outing a “surf talent’s” relationship with celebrity that would have brought “untold traffic and notoriety” and stays “buried to this day,” even though the eagle-eye’d can now likely suss out the involved parties.
Finally, McIntosh punctures George Orwell’s famed quote “journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations,” by bragging that in being spineless, Stab is able to bring the world stunning masterpieces like Peter Schroff and Hayden Cox shaping a board together even though they used to have beef.
All honest and fair as it relates to what Stab is and what it does, though does seem unnecessary to publicly admit and, also, infantilize its audience, spooning baby food into eager mouths.
The real troubling bit, I suppose, is when McIntosh sets up an either/or between HBO and The New York Times then Netflix and “celebrity gossip.”
“Storytelling 101 is giving our audience something they don’t know. Education and entertainment are what we try to do. There’s a reason the NY Times doesn’t make TV shows. There’s a reason HBO doesn’t do celebrity news. They are two very different types of media.
Given their access with superstars, can you imagine how well Netflix or Disney could do celebrity gossip? It would be otherworldly. Can you imagine how tough it would be for the NY Times or TMZ to flip and start trying to secure talent for documentaries, series or events? Harley Levin is a gent who would struggle to get a return phone call.”
Aside from butchering the name “Harley” Levin, the statement is wildly and completely ridiculous. The New York Times makes all sorts of entertainment. HBO does all sorts of celebrity news. Furthermore, Netflix and Disney do all sorts of celebrity gossip and TMZ makes all sorts of documentaries. Further furthermore, where is the line drawn, exactly, between “celebrity gossip,” expose, whistle blown, scoop?
The aforementioned can, anyhow, can straddle because they have enough audience to do so and, therefore, are actually needed by politicians, actors, etc. If The Gray Lady, HBO, Netflix, Disney or even TMZ waved the white flag, a la McIntosh, and declared, openly and exactly like Stab, “To the rich and powerful, your secrets are safe with us. Screw the lowly unwashed masses. They will taste what we choose for them to taste and they will like it and they will love us for it…” they would be completely pilloried.
Oh, they each might operate that way, from time to time, or most the time, but to claim that as modus operandi and be both proud and patronizing in equal measure?
The fact that McIntosh perspired so plainly about Jessi Miley-Dyer not getting asked why Logan got the boot? Like, the World Surf League shouldn’t be held to that low, low, low, low bar of accountability after the former CEO was pushed in all of our faces for years?
Again, wild and especially in light of Stab’s Google byline reading “Trusted media of core surfers everywhere.”
I guess, in the end, Stab becoming the in-house “trusted media” provider for the World Surf League is a good thing for us, as its video content is generally much better than junk that comes out of “the global home of surfing” in Santa Monica.
Enjoyable interstitials during contests while waves are being missed instead of that static “stay tuned” screen to be expected.
Thank you, Stab. May we have another?