Mark Cuban’s opinion on the media

8 04 2011

Have you read Mark Cuban’s recent blog post about the role media play in covering the NBA? It’s an essential read for anyone in the media or anyone who has interest in the relationship between the media and sports teams. Cuban’s basic premise is that some parts of the media – the Internet reporters, specifically the paid ones – don’t need pre- and post-game locker room access.

He feels that newspapers and TV folks provide value to teams because they dispense information to an audience not ordinarily familiar with the Mavericks. Yet Cuban claimed Internet reporters, mostly the paid ones, don’t provide any commensurate value. He thinks they prey too much on players about rumors and act in extremes too often. “The team has lost three straight games…has the team bottomed out?” That’s an actual question I heard from a reporter ask a player in an NBA locker room this season. The player look at him like he was cross-eyed – or too obviously looking for a “money quote.”

I understand where Cuban is coming from on some accounts. Some reporters are lazy. They don’t ask interesting questions, and they rely too much on just access, rather than maximizing the opportunity the access brings. Reporters shouldn’t feel proud for getting a quote from Dwyane Wade or Amar’e Stoudemire or Blake Griffin. They should reveal something about them that fans have never known. To cut off access and get quotes from players via a team’s PR department – as Cuban suggests in the blog post – is ridiculous, though.

Cuban and I exchanged a few emails after I approached him following my read of his post. What we discussed can stay between us, but I respect that Cuban thinks about these things and has intelligent thoughts about it. The PR thing, though, is dumb. I told Cuban that we all know how different a response reporters would get in a PR-enabled email versus asking a player in-person. Sometimes players say things in a way – tone of voice, choice of words, giving a certain ‘look’ – that couldn’t be captured by a PR person who’s going to protect the player from saying something controversial.

For instance, I recently grabbed enlightening quotes from a couple players whom Cuban pays – Jason Terry and Shawn Marion. I spoke with them for a story about yoga in the NBA, for SLAMonline. They dismissed yoga as a worthy activity, which ran counter to what I had found from others for the story. Take another story I wrote for SLAMonline, which came out yesterday. It’s about how NBA teams use iPads to scout and develop their players.

There aren’t many player comments in here, but John Wall noted within this story that iPads provide all the convenience others had told me. Wall’s take matters. It substantiates everything I learned from NBA execs and software companies. Without locker room access, I may not have been able to get a comment from Wall. Even if Wizards PR had provided me his comments (in a scenario in which I didn’t have locker room access), the words may not have been written in the same way Wall spoke them. That matters for something. Enjoy the story and let me know if Wall’s comments give the story any kind of added value.

Click on the link below to read the story:

iPad is NBA’s New Best Friend

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