Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Banning the Bloggers

You've probably heard by now that Mark Cuban decided to ban bloggers from the Dallas Mavericks locker room. I assume that doesn't include himself. Anyway, Last night True Hoop's Henry Abbot came face-to-face with the policy, with predictably absurd and pathetic results. For Abbot's comprehensive takedown of Cuban's policy go here.

Everyone talks about how cool it would be for Cuban to buy the Cubs, but examples like this remind us that he's capable of being just as petulant and arrogant as any other owner, so we shouldn't cry that much if and when his ownership bid is rejected.


Ethan said...

Hang on. "Banning bloggers" implies active removal vs. refusal to extend privilege. What Cuban said (yeah, I read his blog) was that there was no way for him to differentiate between fan-dude who has a LiveJournal page and "I are serious blogger dude" -- and the locker room is only so big, and giving preferential access to the players has real impact. I think this is very fair.

What I think is a wrong move on his part is to not lay out some future metric by which he *would* let serious bloggers in - and exclude the sportswriter for the Podunk Herald as not being serious, either by circulation, or circumlocution.

Shyster said...

The whole policy started when Cuban actively removed the Dallas Morning News blogger. A blogger who, curiously enough, had recently amped up criticism of the Mavs' coach and linked to a site advocating for his termination. Forgive me, then, if I don't believe Cuban's concern over space in the locker room (which others have noted is a crock; it's a big locker room that even during the 2006 NBA finals wasn't all that full).

But that aside, I don't believe that he can't make the distinction between the LiveJournal dudes and the "real" bloggers (more on that below). As Abbot points out, Cuban is a voracious consumer of blogs, particularly those about the NBA and the Mavs in particular. He knows what he's doing.

Yes, in recent days Cuban has spilled a lot of virtual ink in explaining how there is no functional difference between what the newspaper bloggers and we blogspotters do. And he's right about most of that actually. But that's a dodge. Every junior high school has a print newspaper. Would the Mavs give them all locker room access based on their medium? I'm guessing not. There are qualitative lines being drawn already, and it would only take the Mavs media relations people ten minutes in front of a laptop to determine whether a given blogger is worthy of the pass or not.

Of course that leads to the question of who is "worthy" and, as I said above, what is a "real" blog. That's an intersting conversation -- and Cuban has actually added a lot of value to that in his more recent posts. Which only goes to show you, by the way, that he CAN make distinctions when he wants to -- his long tail stuff indicates that he would be comfortable distinguishing on platform and traffic, which wouldn't be a bad way to approach it from a team's perspective, even if he thinks the newspapers are doing it wrong.

At bottom, I simply don't believe that his (admittedly interesting) analysis of blogs is the root of his act of revoking the DMN's prvileges or keeping out other bloggers going forward.

Anonymous said...

In the final analysis, it appears that you acknowledge your criticism is based on a suspicion that Cuban won't tolerate bloggers who are too critical. That may be true, but doesn't the blanket policy he instituted protect him and the team from potential lawsuits from spiteful bloggers who are denied access? Does he have to worry about such a lawsuit anyway as a result of the "no blogger" policy?

Chris Dankberg said...

The blogger side of the debate seems to be playing up Cuban's run-in with the DMN's blogger. Whatever the impetus for the decision not to let bloggers into the lockeroom is, Cuban's making a lot of good points. How is anybody supposed to decide which blogs get in? I also would suggest the Cuban's position is mostly "pro-blog". Cuban's looking a few months (years) down the road, recognizing that millions of people aren't going to be reading "blogs", they're just going to be "reading". And those with the most readers would be wise to avoid calling themselves blogs.

Shyster said...

Anon -- there's not a risk of liability here. The Mavs aren't a public entity. They don't have to let anyone in they don't want to. The argument (at least what mine would be if I bothered to mount one) is that a blanket ban of bloggers is an ill-considered move because you're (a) effectively cutting off a lot of really worthy media outlets that, if anything, are going to promote a greater consumption of the team's product; and (b) instituting the ban when and in the way that he did sure made it LOOK like it was an anti-DMN vendetta.

Chris: I too agree with most of his points re: blogs. Indeed, I think his idea about the NYT branding their blogs "instant news" or whatever it was he said was a good idea.

Which makes me wonder why, then, he's choosing to make the access distinction based on whether someone is a "blog" or not. News is news is news (or soon will be anyway) and he himself notes that those with the prominent platforms will have to figure out how to distinguish their work from a guy who has nothing but a blogspot account, three chords, and the truth.

If the NYT is supposed to figure that out or die, why can't Cuban figure it out? Why can't a guy as savvy as he is -- and I think he's quite savvy -- determine the proper metrics and use them as a basis for granting access?

Chris Dankberg said...

I think Cuban is making a point. He's certainly not above being a jerk. But I think the point he's making is that in the past, there were some pretty obvious barriers to entry when trying to get a press credential. Namely, the somebody, somewhere, had to have heard of you. I know, because as a 17-year old, I called MLB's head office for a press credential to the Winter Meetings. This was 11 years ago, before the meetings became the circus they are today. They thought I was joking and they didn't give me one. I went anyway.
I think Cuban's making the point that he DID make that decision. And his decision was to treat all bloggers equally. And I think he did it because he thought he was coming down on the side of blogging - it was clearly a blow against traditional media. And now, strangely, bloggers think this is something against them.