It’s been roughly 12 hours since it was reported that Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling made racially charged comments in a taped telephone conversation with his girlfriend, yet mainstream media has just now began reporting the story.
As of 1:30 EST not one of the major sports outlets (ESPN, Fox, CBS) had the Donald Sterling story on their front page. The conversation became a hot button topic on Twitter shortly after the story posted in the early hours Saturday morning. Many of these outlets’ most notable hosts and reporters had been discussing the comments for hours before mainstream media even acknowledged there was an issue.
Ask yourself how the biggest story in the sports world goes un-reported for half of the day? Especially when stories of DeSean Jackson being released for gang ties or Richard Sherman being a thug after a post game interview were up almost immediately.
One defense of mainstream media has been sources and the verification of those sources. How hard would it be to contact TMZ sports for the verification of the tape? How hard would it be for one of the other 29 owners or the commissioner to recognise whether that is actually Sterling on said recording?
The fact that media outlets that once found out that Dez Bryant was asked in a private interview whether his mother was a prostitute couldn’t prove the validity of an audio tape that was publicly spread across the internet at 1 AM est.
The truth of the matter remains that these media outlets and mainstream media as a whole didn’t want to dig for the truth. They didn’t want to raise questions about Sterling due to their working relationships with the NBA.
Now that’s in no way stating that the blame falls on the shoulders of the journalists at these media outlets. As said before, many of them took to Twitter to voice their opinions and feelings, but the lack of articles and television coverage suggest that powers higher up have put a delay on releasing information.
The NBA is currently nearing the end of an 8 year deal with ESPN/ABC & TNT.
Here are the figures according to a 2007 USA Today Article:
The NBA will receive about $930 million a year for all its broadcast rights, an increase of more than 20 percent from the previous average of $767 million, according to a person familiar with the deal who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release details.
That deal would run out at the end of the 2015-2016 NBA season. It isn’t a huge secret that every major media outlet will look to be the home of the NBA’s next television contract. Honestly, why wouldn’t they?
But it does make fans raise an eyebrow and question the integrity of these outlets. Are they truly here to deliver the news to it’s fan base or can those journalistic morals be comprised by the opportunity of landing the NBA contract in a few years?
It can’t be a coincidence that the second the NBA tweeted their comments regarding the Sterling comments mass media came alive and acknowledged the very same story people had been tweeting them for hours.
Were those NBA comments the okay these media outlets needed? Were the media executives under a gag order from the League to not report any information until the NBA determined how they’d like to spin the situation?
The leverage of the NBA is widespread and well-known but as journalists and media members should our largest contributors buckle under that pressure? The answer is no. Because in three years only one media outlet will receive that NBA contract and they’ll have bitten their tongues for no reason.
It shouldn’t take 12 hours to report on an NBA owner when it only takes 10 minutes to have Jameis Winston’s sexual assault “ALLEGATIONS” sprawled across every ticker and tweeted as “Breaking News!”
The media should react and report under the same rules and guidelines regardless of what the subject may be or whom it may include. This isn’t owed to us as media members, or to the players in these sports, or even the other owners of the league. It is owed to the fans. The diehard supporters of these leagues and these teams. The people that actually put money in the pockets of these media outlets and the teams.
The fans deserve to hear all accusations, all known details, and all sides of a story so that they can determine what occurred.
Today Mass Media fell short and they owe the fans an apology.