Self-Inflicted Wounds

I used to work as a bouncer the summers of my junior and senior years in college. The bar was called Chances Are, and it was in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. Mixed crowd. There wasn’t a whole lot of trouble, a fight here and there that was never too difficult to bust up, and if it got too big, there were always cops with their dogs down on the corner sipping coffee from the Dirty O’.

One night this guy walks up, already trashed. I wouldn’t let him in. He stumbles away muttering. About an hour later, this fool comes stumbling back up and pulls out a switchblade. He flips the blade and mutters somethingto the effect about how he could cut me up. I calmly pointed to the cops and their dogs and suggested thatit wouldn’t be too wise.

He glanced down the street, reconsidered the situation, gave me the, “Don’t you know how much of a hard ass I am” glare, and while trying to stare me down, decided to close the knife with his hand againstwhat turned out to be a verysharp blade, andproceeded togash his hand. With blood flowing, he turned and stumbled away while I signaled for the cops to come andtake him away.

Ihave been reminded of thisevent multiple timeswhile reading stories that reference me and The Benefactor in the Dallas Morning News. For those that don’t know, The Dallas Morning News is owned by the Belo Corporation. Beloalso owns WFAA TV, the ABC TV affiliate in the Dallas market, which shows The Benefactor on Monday nights.

The relationship between the entities suggest that there would be the opportunity for mutually beneficial cross promotion. It could also suggest that there could be the risk of being perceived as being less than journalistically objective if any favoritism was displayed. Call me crazy, but the businessperson in me says that the best way to deal with the situation would be to just convey the facts in any reference used.

You would think that this would be a simple task for writers like Ed Bark at the Morning News. Nope. A little bit out of his range.Seems like the entertainment writers want to make Sam Smithappear to be worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.

It all really comes down to how they are writing about and referring to ratings of The Benefactor. Are our ratings as high as I, or ABC, or anyone involved like them to be. No. Nor are they as bad as Ed and his cohorts at the Morning News want to make them out to be.

First of all, in Dallas, where the Dallas Morning News not suprisingly is published and most widely distributed, The Benefactor has won its time slot every single week. Our numbers have remained very good, taking on all comers and winning going away. In fact, when ABC repeated the first episode, the repeat won its time slot as well and actually showed better numbers than the first running.

Has the Dallas Morning News written about, or even mentioned any of these facts? Not a single time that I have seen.

Instead, their man in the trenches Ed Bark, and several of his peers have chosen to write about our national ratings. Nationally, we have been about the 80th ranked show in the country. That’s an easy number to pick on, but it certainly doesn’t tell the entire story.

EVERY SINGLE NETWORK program that appears above us in the rankings is shown in every major television market in the US. The Benefactor is not. Because Monday Night Football is a live event, what time the show is on, and whether or not it is even shown on Monday night at all varies by market.

Want to watch The Benefactor on Monday night and you livein Denver? Can’t do it. Can’t do it anywhere in the Mountain Time Zone either. Want to watch it on monday in Indianapolis, Nashville, Miami and other cities? Can’t do it. Did you want to watch it in DC before the Redskins game? Couldn’t do it. These NFL cities pre-empt the show for local football or news shows.

Want to watch the show on the west coast? Good luck. First of all it depends on when Monday Night Football ends. If it goes late, the Benefactor is going to be on late. That is, if its not pre-empted, or joined in progress like it has been in several west coast cities every week. San Diego decided to join the show half way through. Seattle did the same thing.

With the show missing orbumped around in so many large markets, its has hadan expected serious impact on the number of viewers for the show. To compare our numbers to any other major network show, as Ed Bark and others havetried to do, is either misleading by design or proves how inept some writers can be.

Had the writers had any interest in providing some semblance of balance in its reporting there would have been some context in the story. Has the Dallas Morning News provided any of this context for its readers? Nope. Not a word. Not only do they not write about our success in Dallas, or other markets for that matter, but they continue to mislead their readers about how well The Benefactor has done with viewers nationally.

So what makes this a self-inflicted wound and not just shoddy reporting? As I told one of their writers, painting the show as a failure could lead to 1 or more Dallasites not watching the show. Ifone or more of those peopleis in aNeilsen home, that is a ratings hit for the local ABC channel, which just happens to be part of the same company that he works for, that pays him and in which he has profit sharing. And which happened to announce the day after I talked to him that they were laying off 250 people.

I am certainly not suggesting that they write anything positive about the show. I’m going to be more than Ok regardless of what they write. My livelihood will not be impacted one way or the other. I am suggesting, as a businessperson, that whatever they write about The Benefactor, or any show they have a vested interest in, that they make a little bit of effort to get facts and context correct. Misreporting information about a show your employer owns certainly could , and should, impact yor ability to get a raise…

Call me crazy, but I am a huge believerin the butterfly effect. I do believe that one customer can make the difference between success and failure. That the one prospective viewer, buyer, seller, that you mislead, ignore or mistreat could have been the difference between layoffs and none, a bonus or none, the stock price going up or down.

The throwaway and misleading comments in the Dallas Morning News aren’t going to change my life one way or the other. They couldchange the lives of the people who wrote them. That’s a self-inflicted wound that could have been avoided.

36 thoughts on “Self-Inflicted Wounds

  1. The Benefactor is my favorite show. I like all the life and success tips Mark Cuban gives. It reminds me of a TV version of Napoleon Hill’s Law of Success book. Watching the show and reading Mark’s blog is like taking a crash course in life.

    My main complaint is that it is hard to catch on the west coast! I’ve missed it several times because of Monday Night Football. What upset me was that they would preempt the first 20 minutes instead of showing it at a later time. But they would show Wheel of Fortune in full! What’s up with that?!? I don’t care if they show it 1am or 2am or if I have to get up three in the morning to catch it, I just want a definite schedule! Give me The Benefactor on a better time or release a DVD or something.

    Comment by robdelacruz -

  2. Well, first of all, glad that the person with the knife reconsidered… ugh.

    Second.. I would think that professional courtesy would be to not say anything at all if there is an ABC affliation so not to appear biased at all. Sometimes it’s hard to just be silent.

    I would not call the show a failure. It’s in a timeslot that is hard to deal with. Sort of damned if you do, damed if you don’t. I’ve had emails about when the show airs myself and from people who have actually missed the show and wanted to know what happened. They are not on the easy East Coast and it gets complicated when people aren’t here–I’m the lucky one that sees it at 8:00 but back on track…. The show is good, it has been good and the more that I’ve seen the more I’ve enjoyed watching.

    I know that there is more to see and this week, I’m really excited, not everyone can be kind or do acts of kindness if its not in your genes. (I’m guessing that the person that was writing something negative would not pass…but that’s only my guess haha)

    The facts are…
    -it is a good show
    -it can be seen at 8 on the east coast, later on the other coasts or earlier, heck it even confuses me
    -it isn’t a reality show that is trying to become a drama-this is a reality show!
    (PS, if you want a drama watch LOST, that has become one of my weekly I can’t miss shows–it’s great! I normally only watch 1 drama a season and this one is it!)
    Back to The Benefactor…
    -it is a show about contestants trying to win a million dollars and hoping they are there at the end
    -someone who could have been anyone one of us is going to win!

    I’m sure there are things the could have been shown to ‘spice’ it up some but…for me, it’s not all the drama in a show but what actually happens that leads to the people who move on or stay (not the infighting in between. I could care less is A person likes and complains about B person, that isn’t what this show is about. It is about who is going to win the money that Mark is in charge of. He is the person that is watching how they do, how they react and how they manage in the task that they are given)

    If the writer that commented was watching for some drama drama that wasn’t there, I say, move along my friend because the show is just right the way it is.

    Comment by Pammi -

  3. The problem is the show has some serious weak points, and your not going to get the critics to pass over that. They will report those first, and maybe throw in a small compliment after. Problem is then its too late. Rarely does a person read a whole article, and by then their choice is made.

    Thats why I read, watch, and listen to everything with a grain of salt.

    Comment by Dan -

  4. Mark,

    What choose that time slot then? Im sure that both you and the producers knew that M 8/7C during football season is one of the toughest slots on television. There had to have been more options so why that one?

    Queens, NY

    Comment by David -

  5. Mark is well respected by myself, friends and family. Watching The Benefactor before Monday Night Football is sweet for us at the bar. Its great to watch something great wasting time before the game. I am in the eastern time zone.

    As for independent media coverage. The Independent Media Centre is usually where I go for unbiased news.

    Interesting enough they just had the FBI confiscate one of their servers without reason.

    Maybe what you are all saying is true. As humans there will always be a bias. We are all selfish in one way or another. We all have an agenda.

    2 more weeks to go. Ironically, the Mavs start their season soon after! No overrun. Call that Priority Time Management!


    Comment by Patrick Muldoon -

  6. I’ve only caught a glimpse of the show, the closing credits with that kid asking Mark for season tickets. That kid was great, the clip was hilarious.

    So, my question is, how exactly is the Benefactor doing in the markets where it is playing in the timeslot before monday night football?

    Clearly, the national ratings of the show are pretty much irrelevant if it isn’t even being shown in so many markets, and in other markets is on very late at night.

    But, at the same time, the fact that the show does so well in Dallas should be expected. Mark Cuban is a local celebrity here, everything he does makes the papers, and frankly people love him for what he’s done with the Mavericks.

    So what are the ratings for the show in those other markets that air it right before Monday Night Football. I’d be really interested to hear how it is performing in these cities.

    Comment by Tim -

  7. Do not worry about what they say in Dallas! More and more people are tuning into The Benefactor in CT. Each week I hear more people talking about it at work. My favorite episode was the Kid episode. I would have you work with my preschool class anyday! Take Care!

    Comment by Jen Bruckner -

  8. hey mark!!! i’m a long time resident of plano, but recently i came out to colorado springs for an internship at the USOC. i thought i would be able to watch the benefactor here, but you are right…WE CANT WATCH IT HERE IN THE MOUNTAIN TIME ZONE! =*( this makes me so upset and sad cus ive been looking forward to the show for the entier summer, and now that im here….i havent even seen one episode! ugh its so frustrating…but honestly, if i was able to watch it, i would!

    GO MAVS! im SOOOO excited about this new nba season. sO FREAKin happy that dirk is back in town. and i still love marquis! tell them both i said hello =)

    Comment by cali -

  9. I realise that the show is already in the can, and the timeslot is a lemon, but I am very surprised by the way Mark has done nothing in the way of making lemonaid from the lemon he was given.

    In the past, Mark has shown that he is well versed in the art of creating hype, publicity, and buzz for something, but he has done very little besides standard advertising spots for his show. That’s not him, and it is not what people are looking for from him. The reason that this show is even being done, is because of the Mark Cuban that we have all come to enjoy. He is the billionare that all of us think we would be, if we were him.

    I do think that everybody should give him a break though. It is his first shot at this, and I am confident that he will learn from this, and his next shot will be what we all expect from him, BOLD, one of a kind, and something very special.

    As mark would say “No Balls, No Babies”, and it is unfortunate for Mark, but this show won’t have any siblings.


    Next time, go with your gut, and don’t listen to the so called entertainment professionals about what people will or won’t like. Your gut has done very well for you to this point, don’t kick it to the curb now.


    Comment by Phil -

  10. I have never been a fan of reality TV. Mark – You have it goin on with The Benefactor. Maybe you’ll set some new standards and open the door to a more positive and actually entertaining kind of show.

    I commend you on this accomplishment!! Keep it coming and we’ll be there watching.

    Comment by Jimmy Lough -

  11. The media thrives on controversy. It actually helps them to maintain ratings too. As long as the reporter is not spreading outright lies, there isn’t really anything you can do about it. The First Amendment guarantees the reporter the right to report it any way he chooses as long as he doesn’t lie. (And the First Amendment protects your right to criticize the way he does it!)

    Comment by gail -

  12. America

    By martha byron

    From Sea to shining See
    This nation has been cursed
    The lap of luxury
    Spread a song without a verse

    The guise of self has won
    Each soul, each mind, each yearn
    Simplicity has lost
    And hearts no longer burn

    Where callousness is praised
    And power is revered
    Where thoughtless words are raised
    And life stories are tiered

    America, America
    Where does your freedom lie
    In pain, suff’ring, commodities
    Or in deceptive eyes?

    If brotherhood is worthless
    And loyalty is foolish
    What calms a man to rest?
    What turns a soul to service?

    Comment by Martha Byron -

  13. I think it is inevitable that any one news source will have some bias. We all have some bias based on our location, culture, beliefs, upbringing, current situation, etc. However, the solution seems simple – DIVERSIFY your news sources!!

    One of my favorite news sites is Google News ( – they compile their news site based on thousands of media sources from all over the world. It’s very interesting to read about global events (e.g. terrorism, Iraq war) from other countries’ points of view.

    Comment by Jerry -

  14. The media has always been biased to an extent so far as what they report. This is why so many people fear having their children abducted or think it is actually likely that they could be the victim of a murder when in fact both are extremly rare and almost always are the result of some action on the person’s part (mouthing off to the wrong person or going too far in custody disputes between parents).

    As far as lack of rearch on the news media’s part, the media is in a really bad position these days with decreasing circulation and increased competition from the internet where everyone is able to find groups with opinions close to their own.

    Newspapers especially have had to cut their research departments extensivly and increasing rely mostly on AP news instead of generating their own unique local news.

    It is a sad thing to watch the demise of the small local news papers. Most of them will never completly fail, but in general they are likely to be reduced to bare bones local news and almost no research at all except in the largest cities.

    As for the Dallas Morning News itself, they have been in a lot of trouble recently for inflating circulation numbers, so it doesn’t surprise me that they would be producing a lot of news that has very little research to back it up. Why spend on research when there is no other local news outlet where locals will find out the full truth on whatever you are reporting on.

    One thing along that line that really annoys me, is a while back the Dallas Morning News was running a bunch of articles on how social security was going to fail and how huge of a problem it was. I sent some of the author’s emails asking why they were reporting on social security as if it was the end of the world and totally ignoring the Medicare problem which is so vast that it will soon dwarf the costs of Social Security.

    I got a few replies and apparently all of the writers were complelty aware that Medicare was so much bigger of a problem than Social Security. Why did they not report on Medicare instead? Well they didn’t answer that question, but I think it is because they have no interest in educating the public on these issues, instead they just follow along on whatever the “news of the day” happens to be.

    Comment by Shawn Fox -

  15. I agree as I am on the west coast, in LA area .. I end up having to stay up
    & hope the Football game doesnt run over… it’s not a level playing field if nobody knows when to watch.

    The reporters here on Fox gave it a 5 second plug it’s 1st nite..
    since then not a word edgewise good or bad..

    I think the show hasn’t received the attention it deserves because the media saw 1 episode & discouraged viewers away.. they didnt even show a clip of film with the report.

    I would like to see a second season on tuesday, wed or thurs.

    By the way.. the Media seems to headline killings, rapes, bad news for the first half hour or Front page in papers & then they wonder why depression is so prevalent.. Not enough positivity. just looking for quick hook to make a buck or two .. I bet China has a less biased news machine than we do.

    Comment by Matthew Bogart -

  16. Your altercation with a knife wielding drunk reminded me of the time when I worked the clam counter at Nathans of Coney Island. Except instead of threatening me, the drunk tried to open the clams with his giant Bowie knife.
    The knives for clams are actually dull, and you mostly cut yourself with the broken shell fragments.

    Comment by Deadprogrammer -

  17. I think this reporter should write articles based on all the facts irregardless of company ownership. In fact, if he choose to gather all the facts only because his company is owned by the belo corp who also own the ABC affiliate, then I would actually be concerned. If he were reporting on a show carried by another network – should he not gather all the facts as well? Journalistic integrity/ethics should always win out.

    Comment by Chris Hamoen -

  18. Oh Mark,
    I am not much of a curser, but since locating to the Mountain Time Zone, I have affectionately termed it, “The Bitch Time Zone.” Nothing’s live, and it’s all an hour behind.

    I think your show is fine. These days, I don’t really put a lot of weight on nielsen ratings. I’m not sure how the technology works with the box, but it seems with Tivo or even a vcr, a lot of people record it for a later viewing, or if they miss it altogether, they would read about it at the ABC site. Either way, you have viewers that aren’t right there at the tv on Monday 8/7 central. 🙂

    I understand, though, your frustration with a critic, who doesn’t really benefit from not reporting all the facts.

    Comment by Kathleen -

  19. keep the posts on topic. If you want to talk about the media. Great. if you want to talk about the show. Not the place.
    If you want to talk about someone elses ideas for a show. Not the place.

    Comment by mark -

  20. I’m trying to figure out why they are so many people complaining.. For once there is a reality show that is not following the same pattern as the others. You can have 3 or 4 people thrown out at once for many different reasons, you do have to follow the show every week not to miss anything. It keeps you on your toes and the the start of a good reality show.

    Some people are saying that Mark gives excuses for low rating, but you have to give him that he’s got a point ! I’m fortunate enough to be in Montreal, Canada and the show airs every monday at 8:00 so it is fairly easy not to miss it. I was shocked to read that it has so poor time slots if any in most part of the US. It’s like they just put it on air as a test to see if it would work.

    It is a first season and I hope it will come back next year with better time slot and better promotion. Learning couple of things from the first season would only make the show better.

    Comment by Sylvain Delisle -

  21. To me it sounded like you just offered many excuses why the ratings are low. It is true that ratings are low because of this fact, but why would you agree to have a show on the air that only showed to half the country? ABC didn’t have another night they could offer you? I would love to watch the show but I live in the Mountain Time zone. We miss it on Monday nights and they sometimes offer it on Wednesday nights and I have heard sometimes on Thursday nights. So far I have not watched a single episode because I am not a heavy TV watcher. Give me one night it is on during one time spot and I will watch it weekly (assuming I enjoy it). Ratings are low and the show may not be renewed only because you agreed to a horrible time slot.

    Comment by ken -

  22. Just to let you know that at least here in Phoenix, they show it after Jimmy Kimmel. And, I’ve enjoyed the show. I’m glad your not stringing it by eliminating contestants one at a time. I like the idea of teams paying the price for failure. Oh, and I’m looking forward to listing to podcasts of your Web 2.0 talk. And if your not into podcasting yet, you will be. It’s a great way to timeshift.

    Comment by Lee -

  23. I just wanted to say that i absolutely love the show. I unfortunately have not been able to see every episode, but i am drawn to it. there is a cult following for it and it is becoming more main spread. I live in Frisco, TX but i travel weekly to Canton, Ohio. Last night as i was eating my dinner i overheard the waiter telling one of his tables that The Benefactor was his favorite reality show so far, and the party stated that they had not seen it yet but they were going to watch after the discussion with the waiter. The word is spreading.

    Comment by Kerry Martin -

  24. Your post illuminates my point … by pandering to the lowest common denominator, the media has eliminated the incentive for objectivity. Could they do it without our complicity? There is a substantial element in this country that does not want to put in the time and effort to form their own opinions based on objective research. They are willing to be lead by anyone who is willing to indulge their fear, bigotry, and prejudice. Is the media truly the problem or are we?

    Comment by James King -

  25. Somewhat off-topic, but the I am incredibly intruiged by the changes we’ve being seeing in news/media over the past decade, ever since the advent of media deregulation and channel saturation.

    Think about it, what’s changed lately? The media has always been owned and run by the private sector (who have always sought to maximize profits). There have always been incidents of yellow journalism, but by and large the journalistic code of ethics was binding. The answer is: choice. Consumers are now presented with an infinite array of choices for consuming news-ertainment. And slowly, but surely, the more sensational variants are winning in the marketplace.

    Which, when one considers this, is a terrible thought. That increased consumer choice (and our own worst appetites) are forcing these profit-seeking organizations/corporations to cater to the lowest common denominator. After all, how can you fix this short of government intervention?

    Comment by Carter -

  26. Funny, I wrote something similar on my blog regarding the VP debate ( I remember (or at least mildly recall) when objectivity was the most highly valued aspect of journalism. Those days are long gone. Now EVERYONE in the media seems to be pushing an agenda. Censorship is no longer the threat, it’s bias in journalism … and, personally, I think that is ultimately more dangerous to our freedoms than many external threats. Once our opinions can be created for us by the media, a totalitarian state is not that far off. Sadly, it is our own ignorance that makes a scenario like that possible.

    Comment by James King -

  27. There’s a lot to be said for journalistic integrity…

    Too bad it’s sadly lacking in today’s society.

    Comment by SuperSteve -

  28. You were probably not intending to convey this, but this article could be read as if you were both threatening and asking for favoritism.

    Good point on the national vs local ratings though.

    Comment by Daniel Von Fange -

  29. Mark,

    You can tell ABC flat out that viewers in Arizona (myself included) do not watch the benefactor simply based on the fact the it has been pre-empted following MNF. Otherwise, I could TiVo and watch at a more reasonable time.


    Comment by Adam Rainbolt -

  30. We miss it on Monday nights and they sometimes offer it on Wednesday nights and I have heard sometimes on Thursday nights. So far I have not watched a single episode because I am not a heavy TV watcher. Give me one night it is on during one time spot and I will watch it weekly (assuming I enjoy it). Ratings are low and the show may not be renewed only because you agreed to a horrible time slot.

    Comment by runescape money -

  31. It is a sad thing to watch the demise of the small local news papers. Most of them will never completly fail, but in general they are likely to be reduced to bare bones local news and almost no research at all except in the largest cities.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  32. Newspapers have to maintain a wall between editorial (even fluffy stuff like TV commentary) and business. If DMN is going to color its TV commentary and coverage to favor WFAA then they should stop calling themselves a newspaper and become a free promotional handout. To suggest otherwise is below your level of intelligence, Mark.

    Comment by Matt -

  33. If the ratings suck, the show probably sucks. Why aren’t they showing the show in all time zones at the same time? B/c the concept of the show sucks. It’s just an ego inflation project for Mark Cuban, and a rip off of “The Apprentice” The only thing Mark Cuban has going for him over Trump is better hair. Get with the program Cuban – reality shows like yours (and Survivor, like the Bachelor, and like “My big, fat obnoxious NBA team owner”) are just a sign of the declination of our country’s collective intelligence.

    Comment by C. Love -

  34. I’ve worked in a newsroom, and anyone who thinks that newspapers don’t have an agenda is living in the distant past. The news is managed by the section editor in charge, who decides which stories make it and which don’t, the depth of coverage, and story placement. It’s human nature to have an agenda no matter how principled they may be. At the same time, there’s no doubt that there are financial considerations taken into consideration when the paper is put together. Think about it: the stories get cut, not the advertising.

    Comment by Bruce Castleberry -

  35. Mark, some could claim the scheduling is your OWN “self-inflicted wound”. Why did you agree to being subject to arbitrary airing dependent on football? In any business deal, look for the fool… if you don’t see one, it’s you?

    I agree that the Dallas Morning News should provide fair context, but to suggest they “cross promote” the show within a news column is, as others have suggested, not journalistically ethical either. And I love the show!

    I’m in Seattle, and pre-emption has been hit and miss here after Monday Night Football… and what’s worse, is that the local station doesn’t even provide accurate info about when/if it will be aired… last night at the scheduled airtime, they aired local news, with an explanation that a special about Christopher Reeve would be shown in its entirety, “after some more news”… with no mention of The Benefactor at all! Two weeks ago, they said the same about The Benefactor, but then joined it “in progress” 20 minutes later, without warning.

    I love the show, from what I’ve seen… but it doesn’t matter if I can’t find it to watch.

    Comment by Neil -

  36. With the entire “self-inflicted wounds”/common corporate parent thing, I’m confused.

    “The relationship between the entities suggest that there would be the opportunity for mutually beneficial cross promotion.”

    See, I’d be ticked off if the DMN gave the show a pass because of the corporate ownership issue. _That_ would be the “slant of journalism.”

    The show will live or die based on its national ratings, not on its Dallas ratings. For the News to give the entire picture, therefore, that’s what they have to look at.

    If you only care about local ratings, get a show on local access cable.

    Comment by Tim -

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