Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Predicting the death of independent sports coverage

Poynter's Steve Klein posted comments today about a recent blog post by Mark Cuban that suggests pro leagues subsidize newspaper coverage of sports.
In other words, pro teams band together to pay the salaries of beat writers and, in return, get guaranteed space every day. "I know this is in violation of all previous principles of editorial church and state," Cuban writes, but he also argues that pro leagues need the promotional services of journalists (which they have had for more than a century. They just haven't had to pay for it.)
Klein doesn't raise the myriad ethical issues -- and there are many -- that would arise if such an arrangement became reality. He predicts that some publications will take the bait and "slap an advertorial label on the coverage" to save jobs. But advertorial arrangements with sports orgs -- often not labeled -- have already been part of the financial strategy for some papers.
Klein instead suggests (although with funding from pro leagues, raising, again, the ethical issues) a ProPublica or Huffington-style pool arrangement of top sports journalism talent.

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