Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Big (PR) Brother is Watching

John Koblin of the New York Observer writes an excellent article on covering the New York Knicks NBA team as a beat reporter. The article offers a useful, and scary, insight into how sports organizations try to influence reporting and public opinion. The Knicks have been taking a beating on and off the court in recent years and owner James Dolan has resorted to the Soviet system of fair and open reporting. Koblin writes, "The stories from the reporters are endless: layers of institutional paranoia; public relations officials who openly eavesdrop on private conversations with executives and players; the threat—and implementation—of cutting off reporters who are perceived to be critical of the team. "

Two points jump out here. It would seem that the more the Knicks try to control reporting and opinion the more reporters are going to fight back, and indeed the team has become the object of almost daily ridicule in the New York media. The other point is a greater appreciation of what beat writers go through to bring us coverage of our favorite teams. A few years back sportswriter Bill Plaschke wrote an article detailing some of the dangers beat reporters face on a daily basis. The article may help explain why Plaschke has transitioned to the somewhat safer environs of reporting for ESPN.


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