Saturday, September 01, 2012

Jay-Z article from Times survives without rebuttal about gift suite, skepticism about special deals

The New York Times buffed Jay-Z, and hardly a discouraging word was heard. I wrote a letter to the paper that somehow didn't get printed:
"With Arena, Rapper Rewrites Celebrity Investors’ Playbook" (front page, Aug. 16) could have used more skepticism about the marketing of Jay-Z. For example, in June, the Nets told the New York Post that the rapper had not only designed the 11 exclusive Vault suites, he'd purchased the first one. The Times reported, without referencing the previous promotion, that Jay-Z paid nothing for his suite, worth $550,000 a year.
In a Launch Magazine interview 8/27/12, the writer of the Times article, David Halbfinger, described feedback on the article:
It was one of the top read stories of the day and the most e-mailed and most blogged about. I know the Nets are aware of the story and besides the league’s concern about the issue of uniform colors and skin color, I think by and large they were pleased with the story. There are people in Brooklyn who are critical of the project who are somewhat critical of the piece because it’s too laudatory but not everyone is going to be happy.
Maybe "not everyone is going to be happy" because some of them noticed the lack of skepticism in the article, also cited here.

The triumph over access

Halbfinger's article offered some mini-scoops about the exact (small) total of Jay-Z investment, a meeting he had with NBA Commissioner David Stern, and debates about the nature of a black-and-white logo design.

But the fact that Jay-Z's reps declined an interview doesn't mean that Halbfinger somehow triumphed over a reluctant source by getting Nets CEO Brett Yormark, Nets GM Billy King, and Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner to talk.

If Jay-Z didn't want an article, he would have instructed them not to talk, and they would have honored that request. He just was saving himself, to maintain mystery or, perhaps, because he promised an exclusive to another publication.

News flash: Yormark and Ratner and King provided anecdotes to make Jay-Z look good, not the opposite. This was a strategy.

Did Jay-Z get a good deal?

The article stated:
Mr. Yormark said Mr. Carter was not receiving a fee for his advice or any special deals for his businesses.
Halbfinger was a bit more candid in the interview:
Clearly he is using it to his advantage with plans for a 40/40 Club at the Barclays Center, a Rocawear store outside and a bar at the area that will serve the Armand de Brignac champagne that he promotes in his music and videos. You don’t believe that he is getting a special deal to do all of this?
According to CEO Brett Yormark there were no sweetheart deals. It’s not like he showed me the contracts to verify that. Let’s be clear. I’m still skeptical that he did get a preferred deal, not a sweetheart deal. It is interesting that you don’t see others in there. I didn’t even get into this in the paper but it’s not like he’s known for outbidding all the competition. Do you recall the Meadowlands arena where the Nets used to play? It used to be the Continental Arena. And then it became the Izod arena. Do you know who Izod was chosen over? Rocawear. There was another bidder too. I don’t think Izod paid more money. I think the deal was at the same price as Rocawear but I think Izod was chosen over Rocawear anyway. There must have been other reasons that made it a more attractive deal for the Meadowlands. He’s a guy who is known for getting a good deal. It was enough for me to say that he’s got four different business lines going here. He has the advertising agency, the club, the clothing and the champagne and who knows if there is more. Don’t forget the concerts he is going to do.
(Emphasis added)

Jay-Z: run this team? Nah

NetsDaily's Net Income (aka Bob Windrem) pointed to a bizarre reference to Jay-Z in the national political discourse, from the Huffington Post via the Columbus Dispatch:
[Ohio] Gov. John Kasich was a guest of the Huffington Post today for a panel titled "What Is Working " -- a discussion of the economy.
Kasich, who joined a panel that was hosted by TV news legend Tom Brokaw and included Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, made a point he has made often before in Ohio about his desire to lift the entrepreneurial spirits within the African-American community.
To illustrate his point, Kasich said he recently read an article about rap mogul, actor, and businessman Jay-Z, who is a minority owner of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets.
"He’s running the whole God-darn place now," Kasich said, referring to the Nets. "People like that, who have shown that they can come from the streets, and have a tough beginning and then be able to become incredible entrepreneurs, we’ve got to get that into our schools and the inner cities where we can show kids that hey, you can be what you want to be."
He's not "running the whole God-darn place now," just being positioned by his partners as the front man. The team majority owner is one Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire oligarch.

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