SBD/March 16, 2011/Media

Teams, Leagues Breaking Their Own News At Expense Of Traditional Media Outlets

Teams and leagues are beginning to "break their own news, over and around the independent news media that cover them," according to Paul Farhi of the WASHINGTON POST. Pro and major college teams "aren't just news sources now; they're in the news business, too, with their own radio, TV and Internet operations." Teams and leagues at the same time have "imposed an increasing array of restrictions on news organizations limiting how and what they can report." Teams years ago "welcomed coverage as free publicity," but in an age when "technology permits almost anyone to broadcast text, photos and videos instantly, some are far more wary of reporters, viewing them as info-competitors." Journalists usually "chafe at any attempt to handcuff their work," but some reporters "see a pernicious effect on the quality of sports reporting" as teams and leagues try to limit access. L.A. Times Deputy Sports Editor John Cherwa: "We're definitely being disadvantaged. Some of these sports were built on the publicity that we in the media gave them. They need to remember that it's important to have independent voices covering them." Farhi reported the Redskins "have been aggressive in policing the use and misuse of their 'brand' by others." The Redskins name for years "was used freely in the titles of local sports highlights shows," but the team "put an end to the practice several years ago, now only permitting 'authorized' uses of its name -- that is, under contractual agreement." Comcast SportsNet is the team's official TV network, and the station airs a "highlight program called 'Redskins Nation' hosted by Larry Michael, a broadcaster who is an employee of the team." Sources said that the franchise also asked the Washington Post "to rename the newspaper's video webcast and blog about the team, which was called 'Redskins Insider.'" The team "had used the name 'Redskins Insider' first, and The Post agreed to switch to 'Football Insider'" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/15).
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