Friday, May 27, 2011

Mark Cuban's lament

A couple of items caught my attention recently in relation to my previous post about brand journalism. The first comes from the blog of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who doesn't think he should have to tolerate online sports writers covering his team:

In the year 2011, I’m not sure I have a need for beat writers from, Yahoo, or any website for that matter to ever be in our locker room before or after a game. I think we have finally reached a point where not only can we communicate any and all factual information from our players and team directly to our fans and customers as effectively as any big sports website, but I think we have also reached a point where our interests are no longer aligned. I think those websites have become the equivalent of paparazzi rather than reporters. (link)

So he doesn't like Internet reporters, and his team can communicate directly with fans online anyway. I certainly agree with the second point. Last year I attended a talk by Pittsburgh Penguins v.p. of public relations Tom McMillan, who said that fans are just as eager to get news about the franchise directly from the team rather than sports writers. The Pens do a great job communicating with and cultivating their fans, so I'm not going to disagree.

But then Cuban goes on to say that his team still needs traditional media outlets like newspapers and TV stations -- including ESPN:

The same logic that applies to newspapers, applies to TV. They own a segment of the population that doesn’t always read the sports section, but will turn on the TV to catch up. It may be the local news broadcast for some. It may be ESPN.

He does understand that ESPN and are owned by the same people, right? Those four letters they share are no coincidence. Hell, some of the same personalities work for both outlets. Kind of like saying to someone, "I really like your brother, but why is your sister such a slut?" (Not to mention that Cuban funded an online investigative news venture that many people think is an ethically suspect arrangement.)

Then again, when you are billionaire, you can pick a fight with whomever you wish, I suppose.

The other item that caught my eye is about a news site called Futurity created by a group of universities sharing research news directly with the public, rather than relying on a shrinking pool of science and technology writers. I hate to say I told you so, but...

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