A fantastic story in today’s Boston Globe looks at many of the most important issues in the media’s ongoing squabble with major sports entities over Internet reporting.
Here’s the crux: Before the Internet, sports organizations and media outlets weren’t competitors. The sports teams played the games and ran the teams, the media reported, and things were fairly simple.
Now, however, major sports leagues, and the NCAA, have become media entities themselves. The NFL this year has insituted a policy limiting web sites to just 45 seconds of live video from team practices per day. That limit protects the NFL’s own web site, NFL.com, which runs more video.
The problem is this — who is going to cover the New England Patriots more professionally and objectively? The Boston Globe, or the Patriots’ own web site?
It’s very clear. In one telling quote, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, “News sites are looking at the (NFL) video as a business opportunity. I don’t believe it’s about news coverage.”
That pretty well sums up what happens when people become blind to anything but the corporate mindset.
I’ll type this slowly, so Aiello and any who agree with him can get it.
News coverage is our business.
The NFL can’t cover itself, period. Same for every other major sports entity. And there are grave questions over outlets who pay rights fees. By that outlay of cash, they have a vested interest in the success of the league, and their objectivity by definition must come into question.
It’s an issue that will keep being debated in media circles. College conferences have instituted their own web limits for the coming season.