SBD/May 12, 2011/Media

Sam Smith Successfully Transistioned To Working For The Team He Covers

Sam Smith formerly covered the Bulls for the Chicago Tribune
The Bulls hired former Chicago Tribune NBA writer Sam Smith as their blogger-in-chief for Bulls.com in '08, and “to hear Smith tell it, he has bridged the holy divide between journalism and public relations with his integrity and incredulousness intact, and with more freedom than he had before,” according to Daniel Libit of the COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW. With the team one win away from playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, “things are glorious in Chicago these days” and both Smith and the Bulls acknowledge that “their relationship isn’t currently being stress-tested.” When Smith joined the organization, the “only thing the team insisted on was that a disclaimer appear on each of his pieces, spelling out his editorial independence and lack of special access.” Smith “refused to discuss the details,” but within his “first month on the job the disclaimer was moved from the bottom to the top of the page after another NBA team raised an issue about something he had written.” The team three years later said that it “couldn’t be happier providing one of its most vigilant followers editorial independence on its own web platform.” The “returns have been noticeable: the Bulls’ website’s pageviews increased 8 percent the first year of Smith’s blog, which, according to the team, currently accounts for 13 percent of its web traffic.” Smith at the beginning of this season “re-upped with the Bulls for a three-year contract.” He declined to say how much he earns, but said that it is “commensurate with what he made at the Tribune.” The terms of his deal “remained the same: he is contracted to cover the Bulls’ games, write an NBA notes column on Monday -- just as he did at the Tribune -- and answer reader mail in a Friday column.” He “posts game follow-ups directly to the website once he’s finished them, and the typos are all his own.” Smith said that so far he has “faced only one losing battle with the Bulls: he’s failed to convince the team to leak him information, in spite of multiple attempts” (COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW, May/June ’11 issue).
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