I’ve written about business change in baseball. I’ve written about business change in football, a few times; The NFL controls what their players say, football can teach us a thing or two about patents, and of course, Bill Maher tells us why the NFL is a pretty darned good example of socialism.
But I’ve never written about basketball and business change. Until now. And the subject, while pointed at the so-far-there-is-no-NBA-season-because-the-millionaire-players-and-billionaire-owners-are-greedy situation, is actually a story about trust and journalism.
Yesterday, I came across this story by David Aldridge. Mr. Aldridge, a long-time sports journalist for the likes of ESPN and TNT, has weighed in with his opinion that the NBA Players Association has run out of negotiating room in their battle against NBA owners, and that it’s time for the players to give in.
Aldridge lays out his rationale for why the NBA players have run out of negotiating room pretty clearly. The only reason for them to stay on strike at this point is to make a point, hopefully with the long-term outcome of showing their overlords that they can’t be messed around with. Since most of the NBA players are rich enough to withstand a year or two of not being paid princely sums to play a game, that may not be out of the question.
I don’t much care if there’s a 2011-12 NBA season; I enjoy watching basketball when I stumble across it, but that’s about as far as my interest goes. Mr. Aldridge, of course, can’t say the same; his living is made reporting on the sport. But that’s not the story.
The story is that David Aldridge’s piece telling the NBA players that they need to give up on their negotiation with the owners of the NBA teams for which they play was published at NBA.COM, which the owners control.
If you’re either a player (with a particular vested interest in the subject), or a fan (with another), you have to look at Aldridge’s piece and question whether it qualifies as journalism, simply because of where it was published.
In short, if you trusted David Aldridge before, you can’t any longer. Getting paid by the NBA to write a piece siding with the NBA is a conflict of interest for someone calling himself a journalist.
This is what I was talking about yesterday when I pointed out the business change involved in deciding where journalism ends and op/ed (blogging) begins.
Oh, and by the way, if there’s any question in your mind as to whether David Aldridge is now just a shill for the NBA and its owners, take a look at his Twitter page. See where Aldridge says his website is? That’s right. NBA.COM:
There’s a part of me that has no problem with David Aldridge. The dude’s a writer/broadcaster/media personality, making a living, selling himself to the highest bidder(s). That’s business. And I sure have no issue with the NBA using every weapon they can lay their hands on in doing business/negotiating with their players. But I’ll guess that TNT, Mr. Aldridge’s main employer, feels differently.
What about you? Is David Aldridge no longer a journalist, or … does that not even matter?