The Dallas Mavericks have banned from the locker room any writer whose “primary purpose is to blog.” The problem is that this rule has been applied to only a single journalist, a blogger for the Dallas Morning News, who happened to also write an article critical of the coach the day he was booted from the locker room.
But Cuban defends his decision in a post that seems contradictory, to say the least. He starts out by saying:
A blogger, a beat writer, a columnists. The medium they use to deliver their content should be irrelevant. No question about it.
Right so far. The job of journalist has very little to do with where your story hits, and a lot more to do with the ways in which you gather it. If you are committing journalism, it doesn’t matter where you are doing it.
By the end of the same post, he not only has a question about it, he has completely contradicted himself:
Do they not know the difference between a blogger and someone who actually writes feature articles on a destination website?
Obviously, no they don’t. Unfortunately, he fails to explain the difference. I suppose he is suggesting that he will only allow people in the locker room who have a certain audience. By that measure, Howard Stearn gets a pass, for example. It seems pretty obvious that they limit access to the locker room to those who are full-time journalists, and probably not every full-time journalist who wants access gets it. The whole “blogging” think is a red herring.
As LAist points out, Cuban seems pretty clueless about the media environment, suggesting that if he lets one blogger in, every high schooler with a MySpace page will want to crowd into the locker room.
The banned journalist, Tim MacMahon, posts his own response, and once again showing Cuban’s perfidies (or at least churlishness) on the issue, brings up Cuban’s own argument against walled gardens expressed less that two years ago (during a talk in which he suggested that Google would be stupid to buy YouTube).
The question remains, though, how professional sports survives without the walled garden. Really, it remains the test case. Cuban, as with all owners, is in the business of selling first, the spectacle, and second, the brand. The only way to price out spectacles is to be exclusionary. But it’s also the best way to become irrelevant in a media environment rich with alternatives.