jump to navigation

Tiger Woods as Web Fodder December 13, 2009

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Journalism, News, Social Media, Web Video, YouTube.
Tags: , , ,

By all accounts, the media frenzy around philandering golf star Tiger Woods is a scandal fueled by the Web. While old media has largely closed its eyes to the excesses of athletes, social media has pounced on Tiger, selling magazines along the way and raising traffic to Websites.

In the realm of celebrated athletes, Tiger stands out. He has evolved into a billion-dollar corporation with tournament victories, golf course design, and endorsement contracts. By using the media to develop a persona, the Tiger Woods brand made an estimated US$100m annually from sponsorship deals.

Now Tiger the disgraced husband is discovering media cuts both ways as his sexual antics fuel porn spoofs and make tabloid fodder. Netizens follow Tiger’s bedroom games with dread and delight. His personal Web site has turned into a kind of town hall meeting since he admitted to cheating on his wife and letting his family down.


Woods underestimated the pervasive power of the celebrity media in exposing his double life and his pleas for privacy are unlikely to be honored in an era when scandal is big business for traditional media fishing the bottom lines.

In the wake of damning text and voice-mail messages that he allegedly sent to paramours, we now know Woods isn’t the upstanding family man the world once thought he was. From finger-wagging at his sexual indiscretions to support of his misdeeds, the scandal as elevated TigerWoods.com’s traffic.

It wasn’t long ago that the site was a benign place for Woods to exist in his corner of the Web. That recent past is still visible, in his blog posts, answers to “Dear Tiger” questions, photo galleries, golf tips, outtakes from commercial shoots, fitness advice, career statistics and a “Tiger vs. Jack” comparison.

Little detail seems to be known about the affair. While Woods admitted to “transgressions,” everything else, seemingly, is pure speculation. Woods needs to help himself by telling the story personally to clear the air instead of taking an “indefinite break” that has sent shudders through the golf industry.

The latest Web hit is a spoof of golf’s possible loss of sponsors and fans after Tiger’s “indefinite break.” from the game. Woods made golf cool. But with traditional golf media, his publicists could vet questions and restrict access to friendly sports journalists. Celebrity media is a nastier creature and Woods is discovering it cuts both ways.

Journalists used to be gatekeepers, checking tips, rumors and leads before they got to the public. But the Web and social media have blurred the lines and journalists cannot keep the gates up and unsubstantiated rumors wind up reported as fact.

The star has not publicly surfaced since the scandal broke. Perhaps appearing on a TV chat with media personalities like Oprah Winfrey or Diane Sawyer puts you in the glare of TV spotlights, which could show up the reported facial bruises…

His only comment so far was via a now infamous statement posted on his website on 2 December in which he apologised for his “transgressions” and “letting my family down”.

Until we hear it from the tiger’s mouth, the accepted narrative is that Woods’s wife, Elin, beat him when she learned of his infidelities, precipitating Woods’s car crash in the early-morning hours after Thanksgiving. That’s fodder for tabloid and mainstream media and certified as fact by a “Saturday Night Live” skit.

Website dailycomedy.com has collected hundreds of Tiger Woods jokes. An animated game that has gone viral called “Tiger Hunting” has Woods dodging obstacles in his SUV pursued by a golf-club wielding blond.

The Woods story follows a pattern of celebrity scandal coverage in recent years. As the deaths of Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson illustrated, speculation, facts and gossip all become so conflated and widespread on the Web that the mainstream media can no longer ignore the rumors.

The mainstream media doesn’t want to be first on these stories. They’d prefer to let the supermarket press break these things, so they can remain at arm’s length.

Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism

The mis-reporting of the Woods story suggests that once the National Enquirer or TMZ serves up the raw details of the story, the mainstream media can’t always be relied on to separate fact from fiction.

Woods has won an injunction banning English media from publishing new details about his personal life, after instructing London-based lawyers to take legal action. The move prevents English media from information freely available in the US, prompting an outcry about the ability of foreign litigants to take advantage of repressive English laws.



1. Keith - December 21, 2009
2. Samantha - February 16, 2010

i just know this page, nice blog you have,
i will visit this web more often and read about your post,
i like ur topic specially about
Tiger Woods as Web Fodder


3. 2010 in review « Webs@Work - January 2, 2011

[…] Tiger Woods as Web Fodder December 20092 comments 5 […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s