Tiger Woods: an apology for the YouTube era

tigerwoodscbs Just like many other people, I watched Tiger Woods on live TV on Friday as he made his public apology for the revelations that emerged about his sex addiction following the car crash he was involved in outside his house last November.

I didn’t see all of the eight minutes or so that he spent speaking in front of a controlled audience and the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people tuned in to live TV broadcasts around the world, just a few minutes of it in the middle as I watched the live broadcast on the BBC News website.

I read the transcript subsequently, and watched the recording from CBS’ broadcast posted on YouTube. The whole speech is well summarized in this update in Woods’ Wikipedia entry:

[…] He admitted that he had been unfaithful to his wife. He said he used to believe he was entitled to do whatever he wanted to do, and that, due to his success, normal rules did not apply to him. He said he realizes now that he was wrong to have had extramarital affairs, and apologized for the hurt his behavior caused to his family, friends, fans, and business partners. Woods also stated he had been in a therapy program for 45 days, and would be returning there soon. He stated he planned to return to competitive golf in the future.

A masterful performance, undoubtedly. Well scripted, well rehearsed, well managed. Is it believable, though? I think it is. I believe Tiger Woods is genuinely sorry for his behaviour and the effects it has had on those close to him, and he genuinely does want to make amends to everyone he mentioned, from his wife and family right through to his professional colleagues and others.

Shel and I discussed Woods’ plans for this apology in the FIR podcast #527 last Thursday, the day before it was done. I was extremely sceptical in our discussion, saying that Woods would be better keeping out of the limelight and that it would no doubt be purely a PR stunt. I take the sentiment of those words back having seen the event.

Yet I wonder what real difference any of Friday’s stage-managed event will have made. What would have happened had Woods eschewed Friday’s tightly-controlled event and instead just sat down in front of a camera, looked directly at the lens and spoke from the heart rather than read a prepared statement with the inherent cringe factor as he paused in just the right places, looked humble from time to time, hugged his mum at the end of it all, genuine though it may well all have been.

No, this had to be an event. It was designed for consumption on a mass scale, both live-as-broadcast – not just traditional TV but also online via Ustream and others – as well as the search-engine friendly longevity of recordings posted on YouTube and other video-sharing places on the web.

Speaking of TV and YouTube, the first video link I went to because it came up high in the search results was CNN’s recording of their live transmission. Yet I couldn’t watch it: it said it was blocked on copyright grounds.


So I went and watched CBS’ recording instead. How dumb is that? Such a block might work if you’re the only content to be found. Hardly the case these days. CNN might have taken a leaf out of CBS’ book: wrap the recording with ads. I don’t mind that: being exposed to an ad is the price for access.

One final thought is forget about video, forget about the stage-managed flavour of it all. Just read Woods’ words. He actually did apologize. He said he was sorry. He reads as though he meant it.

That counts for a lot, no matter how it was all presented.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

    I would think that 20,000 of the top engineers in the world (@google.com) would be able to figure out that a video has been “taken down” on their own company’s website (@youtube.com).

    But I guess they’re more interested in selling an ad impression than pissing off their users.


  2. Tiger ber om ursäkt

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