STL Post Dispatch: Blues [players] get economics lesson
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11-17-2003, 04:26 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Originally Posted by
Tom, Stu is a fan who has been bombarded for years now with media stories on this subject.
In the 1930s, legendary hockey owner Conn Smythe was displeased by newspaper coverage of his Toronto Maple Leafs. Smythe's solution: He approached Toronto Star publisher Joe Atkinson with a promise to take out $20,000 in advertising annually. In exchange, Atkinson would raise his hockey writers' salaries by $20,000 -- as a reward for more "honest" reporting.
If owners of pro sports teams no longer engage in outright bribery, it's only because they no longer need to.
I'm pretty sure Atkinson made sure there was more "honest" reporting without rewarding the writers. At one time the paper's hockey writer was actually paid by the team. It is a lot more subtle today.
There are conflicts of interest all over the place in pro sports. What about if the Toronto Star and the Maple Leafs had the same owner in this good old days? Would the bribe be necessary? Say, like ESPN and the Mighty Ducks do. What kind of critical coverage can we expect from ESPN regarding either the Ducks or Disney's interest in the impending labour dispute? Can we expect fair and balanced coverage? If Fox and the Dodgers are owned by the same guy, how vociferously will they criticise the team? Whose side did they take in the baseball dispute? How do they slant their stories?
Even the CBC sports department and HNIC ran from the Eagleson story although there was yards and yards of documentation and players and agents willing to go on the record. Why were Dowbiggin and Conway the only two reporters with the guts to tell a real news story? What does this say about the hockey media?
Nobody has to write a memo for the sports reporter. They know what is acceptable and what is not. If Brian Burke claimed the Canucks lost $37 million one year, the reporter has two choices. Quote Burke and agree the NHL is doomed because of player salaries, or just quote Burke. He can't snort and say "Bullbleep." Not if he wants to stay employed. He can't prove Burke wrong. He either ignores money issues in his writing or he toes the party line. Either way, only the party line hits the light of day.
I wish they would all ignore it.
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