Tuesday, March 02, 2010

In the print Times, no coverage of the AY condemnation case, but ink for a Nets promotion of questionable value

I wasn't surprised to see the New York Times's coverage of Supreme Court Justice Abraham Gerges's decision in the Atlantic Yards condemnation case relegated to online coverage only.

While I can disagree with editorial judgment--after all, in print today is coverage of a delayed Metropolitan Transportation Authority reality show--that's part of a pattern; the Times frequently publishes AY and other metro stories online only (and, with the former, often without disclosure of the New York Times Company's ties to Forest City Ratner).

In the Sports section

But I was surprised to open the Sports section and see this article:

The Nets are offering a coupon that can be redeemed at a Roni Deutch Tax Center to get a state income tax return done free. That's a $29 value but, actually, nothing special, since, as the article states, a similar coupon can be downloaded from Roni Deutch’s web site.

Free tickets

Also, Deutch offers free Nets tickets with the purchase of a federal tax return.

That's no great value these days, given prices under $2 at StubHub. (Note that, despite the graphic, a price of $0 refers to a price between $0 and $1.)

The power of Yormark

So the question remains: why does New Jersey Nets Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark have such Svengali-like powers over the sports media?

Well, he is creative, but probably the most important thing is that sports reporters--especially in the electronic media-- do not typically take a hard look at sports business.

There's a reason, as Mark Rosentraub writes in his book Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It:
Sporting events also comprise virtually all of the ten most watched television programs of all time. What all this means is that when state and local officials negotiate with teams the media will (1) likely be strong supporters of any deal needed to bring a team to a community, (2) be unlikely to critically report or investigate the negative implications or aspects of any partnership that brings a team to a community, (3) provide substantial coverage of the positive impacts of, or benefits from, a team's presence in the community and, (4) provide substantial coverage of any lost opportunities or events that surround the movement of a team from a city to another community.
Today, the Times simply published a whimsical article on a minor promotion.

On the other hand, the Times has downplayed the news that the Barclays Center naming rights deal is much less than originally trumpeted, relegating it to the end of an article on the sale of arena bonds.

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