Sports Teams and Local Media

A funny thing happened at media day for the Mavs this year. The players were excited as could be. Most of the media was fired up about the Mavs getting back on the court. But there was a segment of the media that wasnt quite as excited as the rest.

The print media guys there looked like they were worn out. Anyone who follows the business of media knows there are changes a plenty happening at Newspapers across the country. Our local paper, The Dallas Morning News offered early retirement packages across the board and the sports department had some takers. Thats probably good for them, but what about the rest of the news staff and the topics they cover ?

Of course the news, sports or otherwise, knows no boundaries. There may be fewer people in the newsroom but the same number of games, events and what have yous are still being played and presented. The guys who work in print who cover the Mavs didnt say so, and this may be my prejudices coming through, but the look on the faces of several from the Morning News seemed to reflect that trying to cover the Mavs along with their other responsibilities was going to make things difficult on them.

Sports teams have always had a love hate relationship with the media. We both need each other to prosper. Sometimes we are all on the same page and its love and kisses. Sometimes we are not, and its glares and turned backs. But somehow we have managed to carry on, knowing that there were always readers out there that we both wanted as customers that would somehow push us towards the middle.

Im the first to admit that I pushed, prodded and made every attempt to game the media to try to present the Mavs and our players in the best possible light. I am the protector of the Mavs brand, and the person responsible for making sure our fans and customers get what they need to stay fans and customers. This year, for the first time, Im going to have to make adjustments in how i deal with local (emphasis on local) media members. Particularly from the local newspapers.

It was no accident that Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Paper was at our media rather than following the Spurs in Europe. Dallas is a cheap trip. France is not. Dallas hotels can run under 50 bucks, French hotelrooms with bathrooms and phones do not.

I, along with owners of every other sports team, other than maybe NFL owners, are going to have to recognize that we no longer have the full attention of our beatwriters and the columnist who focuses on our sport.

They may also be covering high school lacrosse or field hockey or college football with a quick jaunt to pick up a quote from the girl who set the Texas State 100 yard dash record this week. They may be asked to go interview the ex girlfriend of Terrel Owens former barber to see if she has any good scoop on why TO changed his hair style after the big Eagles game. (Did i just regress into an old habit….oops :).

Money plays for newspapers these days. I have to recognize it and try to make the lives of the writers who follow the Mavs a little easier and the paths to information a little wider. I have to make sure that we make it as in expensive as possible to cover the Mavs. Maybe its time they change their rule of not flying on the team plane.

I want as much coverage of the Mavs as possible. I know all sports teams are going to have to work harder to get it.

Now about those media consultants who are trying to convince newspapers what sports they should cover and how much coverage should be given to each. Should I be nice to them as well ?

I guess I will ask my new best friends at the paper.

20 thoughts on “Sports Teams and Local Media

  1. As a photographer (and a videographer), I know that I need events to cover just as much as the event needs me to cover the event. Love, hate, I just look at it where if I deliver, they get better coverage in other media (such as print). If that happens, they pay me more to not go to the next paycheck provider. We both win. An amazing shot from a HS game will beat out a bland shot of Tim Duncan if it generates more money at the newsstand.

    Comment by Gavin the photographer -

  2. Why not hire yourself as a motivationa coach? Then you cloud join the huddle.

    Comment by Michael Tate -

  3. Over 10 million Canadians live within an hour and a half drive of Waterloo, Ontario, an assured sell out and tv contract, the headquarters of Research in Motion, the new owners of the Penguins franchise — unless something drastically changes in Pittsburgh all of us in Southern Ontario very much look forward to the trip to Hamilton or Kitchener/Waterloo to watch Crosby,Melkin etc. in their prime.

    Comment by John -

  4. Gone are the days when Wilt ‘the Stilt’ Chamberlain was buddy buddy with the L.A. beat writer and Muhammad ‘the Greatest’ Ali and Howard Cosell were thick as thieves as well. Well, maybe and maybe not. Innovators such as Mark Cuban (I’m not getting paid for this)understand the importance of the media in marketing their team, and younger more technically savvy writers are coming into the fray to help boost the market. Cost-cutting newspapers cannot keep up, both in timeliness and in technical know how which appeals to a younger audience.. Sports continues to thrive as sports analysts Put their passion in print.. Your thoughts and comments are appreciated…calsports1

    Comment by saul -

  5. Speaking as an NFL marketer (but not necessarily speaking for my team) I see us awakening to the fact that we can make money on our news if we control the news ourselves. We are the content, and now we have a direct delivery channel to a targeted audience.

    Comment by Christian Ter -

  6. Mark, I’m back to talk about the idea of you being our new owner for the Florida Marlins so that you can finally make its home the baseball community it was meant to be since 1993, two World Series and a 2006 season of rookie playoff run miracles. I embrace it as the perfect opportunity for you right now to fulfill your dream to be an MLB “Servant of Baseball” to bring us our Joe Girardi Championship run that was lost this year under present management. At this time Jeff Loria is the most despised owner in the league and the South Florida community is pleading for a “new look” in ownership and rebirth. A new owner would inspire them to go to the games again while the stadium issues are resolved so that we can fairly demonstrate our continued support for the Fish, but for the owner, especially if we can grab back Joe before it’s too late. Part of the reason why Joe Girardi was so in tune with our needs is that he provided that new look of Championship killer instinct with a team filled with rookies while also giving us the simple pleasure of basic hope of our very franchise existence. This was until Loria used the media in an unjustified smear campaign against Joe and as a result, the hugest calamity was an owner-induced “white flag” surrender of the baby Fish rookie championship run. By the time Loria was through stomping out its glorious growth with his media rants against our skipper, although they had a walk-off victory on their last game of the season, the entire stadium and the team itself resembled more of a funeral as if we had all along been destined for the MLB dungeon anyway. A team that made history, that topped the 1899 Louisville Colonels in it’s comeback past .500 accomplishment and had an Anibal Ace No No among so many other rookie achievements and firsts on that last day felt like they had only lost, and they did. They lost 2006 playoff hopes and most importantly their valued mentor and leader. And on that last day there was no longer anyway to hide what Loria’s media rant from August through September did to their young morale and in serving as an outright dismantling of their playoff run chemistry, even though there were sporadic statements that it wasn’t affecting them, as if they truly had a voice anyway to say otherwise, for we know how their very MLB exigtsence right now depends on Loria’s acceptance. Additionally, there is reason to believe Girardi was a victim of reverse-discrimination since the Marlins FO management statements to the media support they were only interested in hiring a Latin-American coach, and the only person called in the hiring process was Fredi Gonzalez even before the firing was officially announced. We are livid as a community who just went through an all-out fire sale in the off-season, we are tormented by two years of hurricane devastation, we are put in a state of outright horror when Loria nearly moved the team to San Antonio and now we are left devastated since he took away our Joe, our only sight of hope we’ve had in August through October, without storms, gone two days after a miracle run that had all the potential to being the Mets or Cardinals right now. He brought on the storms anyway even though there were none announced in the tropics by name that left our roofs torn. In my mind, this is the Sports and the Media Headline of the Year and I find it very unfortunate that Loria is not getting called out more from even our own local news agencies. Strangely however, the Sun-Sentinel was more than willing to generate the FO leaks that killed the team chemistry, almost as if they are acting as Loria’s agent in every respect: first to oust Joe and then to support it. Mark, simply put, we need a strong voice to make a difference here. You as the sports purist as you are should be just as outraged even if it wasn’t your team. But this team can be. Perhaps you can make that happen. One that the sports world will listen to, owners will take notice of as you instill loyalty and trust to both your community and players and responsibility for the outcome of your actions in management to how that affects their play. Your voice to set standards for things that should never be done by an owner when you reflect on what was done here. Ultimately, I’d like to give you a try in deciding who gets to stay and who gets to go in the best interests of the baby Fish, its fans and their on the field success, and I hope it’s not just a pipe dream to try to get it in your head to make this happen for us.

    I know you’re busy with the Mavs right now and the timing couldn’t be worse, but you guys have fax machines and cell phones and e-mails to get the ball rolling and you just need a few pens for the signatures to make it final and then leave the rest to Joe, Kranitz, Tuck, et. al. in getting the guys ready for you throughout spring training while you live through your 2006 – 2007 comeback to the NBA Finals run.
    Then you can come on down here when things start getting really hot and the basketball world is taking off under in the sun. You have to move fast. Contact Joe. Tell him to hold off on the Nationals contract. Tell him to let someone else know how it feels for a change to “wait and see.”

    If you’re not interested, please send one of your buddies who would jump at the chance, the golden opportunity of a lifetime to own an MLB team. The chance to give South Florida someone to believe in when it comes to an owner truly committed its preservation and not how he can wreak havoc on it through the media. Then you can get your Chicago Cub team and we can have maybe end up having an NLCS reunion on the field and just think how fun. But really, my gut is that I’d rather have you.

    Comment by Christine Sciarrino -

  7. I don’t mean to crash your Mavs party, but I didn’t know how else to reach you and I was just wondering if there was any way at all, Mark, you would be interested in buying my sweet, Florida Marlins, baby-fish team, and re-instate Joe Girardi to his rightful position as skipper after his unjust firing by the Anti-Marlin, Jeffrey Loria. I think you and Joe would work well together because you have that same fire in your eyes type of mentality to win championships. It should take only ten minutes at the most to fire Fredi Gonzalez and break it to him that there has been a mistake while he still has so many teams out there looking for skippers. I have much more to say on this subject, but my other requests would be that you never seek to move the team and that you never go on a private agenda rampage to dismantle team chemistry in the heart of a much contested playoff race as Loria, the Anti-Marlin, just did. I believe you would never do these things and honor these two rather modest requirements from a Fish fan who only wants an owner who will finally do right for her team (three if you include the Girardi re-hiring before it’s too late and the Cubs or Nats get him).

    Comment by Christine Sciarrino -

  8. I recognize the value of maintaining strong relationships with the guys who cover your team, but buying them pizza doesn’t guarantee positive press (or any press for that matter). And press coverage is valuable, of course, but hard to measure.

    Speaking as an NFL marketer (but not necessarily speaking for my team) I see us awakening to the fact that we can make money on our news if we control the news ourselves. We are the content, and now we have a direct delivery channel to a targeted audience.

    Breaking stories on our Web site would be one of the first things I would do if I were in charge. Why? Because for at least, we’ve got 1 million monthly visitors. 95% are avid Colts fans. 75% of these folks visit at least once each week. Who cares more about Colts news than this audience? And whose opinions are we trying to manage (through press coverage) if not this audience?

    I would argue that this audience is THE most important to the team. More valuable than general readers of the local paper. And when you realize the money the paper makes from carrying our news, and realize this is money we could and should be making instead, it becomes appararent that we don’t necessarily need the “middle man” anymore, it makes you go, “hmmm”.

    Comment by Pat Coyle -

  9. Frankly, after the whole fiasco concerning Belo’s customer subscription rates to the Dallas Morning News (or lack thereof), this whole sacking/buyout thing was a long time coming. Add to that the rather peculiar incompetence of the prior Dallas Morning News’ sportswriters (they’re still looking for Big XII beat writers that can actually count to twelve…), and any of the big sports team owners in the market can’t depend on the print media like it was once able to.

    I guess the question is how one compensates for the lack of competent sports media in a particular market–could we perhaps see more local Mavericks television/radio/internet coverage that the team can control instead of depending the terminally ill print media? And what net impact/cost would that have on owning a franchise…if any?

    Comment by Matthew -

  10. I hate when I see a player being interviewed, and there are 10 different mikes in his face….10 media outlets all getting the same quote…boring. Set aside an office for the beat writers and encourage your players/coaches to give the beat guys five good minutes when asked with quotes/insights that only the print media guys will be able to give to their readers. If you go to those lengths to get them exclusive content, you’ll see the benefits.

    Comment by Frank DeAngelo -

  11. check out – amuzing little thing

    Comment by Marc -

  12. I keep at your disposition a list of cheap french hotel rooms including a phone , a shower ( miracles happen) and even a free croissant for breakfast . All that for less than 50 bucks . enjoy !

    Comment by le franais qui sent mauvais -

  13. It’s a good rule of thumb to get the reporter and player acquainted before season. It’s also a good thing to just keep it simple. Reporters and players have two things in common they are running all of the time and when they aren’t they are thinking about it. Accentuate that element. If you have a PR person, have select interviews available that week. Try to accomodate for the shortness of time for both player and reporter. Respect both sides and make sure the players execute that respect. Accentuate the Mavs technological lead in the industry. Find an integrating, technological system that streamlines the process and watch the press flood the MAVS press room. Oops I just gave a really cool idea away.

    Comment by seraphity -

  14. So true. I was speaking to a gentleman earlier today who was laid-off from the Dallas Morning News after 20+ years of service.

    A new article about the demise of Newspapers makes its way to The Drudge Report almost every other week [there is a bit of irony to that].

    It doesn’t matter if the Newspaper is in big “D”, NYC or even here in Virginia Beach. They all seem to be slowly eroding away.


    Comment by Steve Jones -

  15. Doesn’t the lack of resources on the print media’s side just give you a better opportunity to get favorable press? I mean this is the best chance you’re going to get to spoon feed an overworked reporter so that his load is lighter and your message is delivered, gee if you gave print folks exclusive perks they might end up being publicists instead of critics … or was that really the adjustment you were alluding to?

    Comment by sdy -

  16. Thanks for looking after the fans in UNT today, Mark. You have a lot of college fans 🙂 (as popular as Dirk). We appreciate what you and Mavericks have brought to us. GOOD luck for the new coming season.

    Comment by YaoMing -

  17. Internet killed the newspaper star. Why the hell would I read a newspaper account of the game when I can read and interact instead? Newspapers are afraid of letting readers interact with the reporter, so good riddance.

    Comment by spike -

  18. Mark! I want to tell separately many thanks for such attention to blog!

    Comment by Duran -

  19. Good post Mark, for the most part we’ve had a lot of success dealing with the Universities when it comes to coverage of their athletics. Partly because we cover ALL sports (even field hockey & lacrosse) when other media outlets do not. Colleges LOVE you for this. Also, smart college programs know the more coverage the better. It gives your program more exposure, which makes recruiting a LOT easier. Giving access to games and players is a win-win for both. Too bad some of these middle tier professional organizations don’t realize this.

    Comment by Clark -

  20. Speaking as an ex-sports editor…
    We didn’t get into this business for creature comforts or friendship. Most of us got into it as a way to be around sports and because we like to tell stories. And you’re right – the beat writers are no happier than they look, having had extra duties thrown at them.

    I think you’re sincere, Mark – and you realize that a lot of Internet news starts at such papers. It doesn’t just spring directly onto the Web; it comes from reporting, usually from print sources.

    That said … the main thing you can do to help beat writers is to be understanding. Suggest to your players and coaches that a little openness and honesty will go a long way. We’re just trying to tell our readers what’s going on. Admittely, that’s sometimes before you want it told, but such is the nature of news. You noted that the relationship is good sometimes, bad sometimes – well, that seems to match up with how the team is doing. It’s easy to talk after a 20-point win over the Lakers; not so after getting beaten by the Rockets at the buzzer.

    I will say that NBA players are generally good with the media, no real Barry Bonds types that I’ve met. I remember Larry Bird sitting around in the locker room after a game in Milwaukee and chatting for a half-hour. (And they’re especially good after dealing with football types, who are all paranoid.)

    Just ask your staff and players to remember that we’re trying to do our jobs just as they’re doing theirs, and if we both do them professionally, everybody benefits.

    Comment by Ray Barrington -

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