SBD/Issue 72/Sports Media

TMZ Boss Hopes Planned Sports Side Provides Outsider Coverage

SI Golf Editor Calls TMZ' Sourcing On
Tiger Woods Story "Beyond Flimsy"
TMZ Exec Producer Harvey Levin confirmed plans to launch a sports Web site, bringing a "new phase for TMZ’s advertising sales, which have not kept up with the site’s popularity," according to Brian Stelter of the N.Y. TIMES. Levin "sees a lot of what he calls agenda reporting in sports," and he "sees an opening for coverage by an outsider, free of potential conflicts of interest, like league licensing deals." Levin: "I don't really see a difference between a sports star and a celebrity." Stelter notes SI Golf Group Managing Editor James Herre in an interview on Golf.com "called TMZ's sourcing on recent pieces about [Tiger] Woods 'beyond flimsy.'" But Levin "defended the reporting," saying TMZ "has the same rigid standards as any operation in America" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/28). Magic C Dwight Howard said of the launch of a TMZ sports site, "I don't know what the world is coming to, that's all I can say." Howard: "I don't want to get on TMZ's bad side. Seems like people want to hear more about bad stuff than good stuff, which is supposed to be the opposite way around." In Orlando, Tania Ganguli noted Magic GM Otis Smith "wasn't really surprised" by the plans for the site. Smith: "We are in the entertainment business. Unfortunately you can't segment your life. The only thing you can control is your house. Once you're in your house. When you go to the Internet and Twitter and Facebook and MySpace, then you're inviting outside in" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 12/24).

WAVE OF THE FUTURE? In Detroit, Mitch Albom wrote over his years in the business, "when the game was over, when the quotes had been gathered, when the story had been written, I felt the job had been done for the day." Albom: "It wasn't my obligation to then follow the athlete into a bar or sneak around outside his hotel room. But I fear soon that's where 'sports news' may begin." Albom added, "Sex sells. Gossip sells. Bad behavior sells. The TMZ approach of capturing your worst moments and splashing them around the world will be a hard thing for more conservative news outlets to ignore" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/27). The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin wrote, "As the new decade begins, athletes are now grist for the paparazzi, and the food chain of sports journalism is scrambled beyond recognition" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 12/25).

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