Minnesota Vikings, like many sport organizations, now a media company
Rochelle Olson’s piece in yesterday’s Star Tribune provides more fodder for the notion that sports organizations are increasingly in the media business. On the surface, this is great as it creates more opportunities for people to work in journalistic-style settings and provides highly identified fans with more information than ever about their teams.
But no other team in the Twin Cities pushes out content with the immediacy and variety that the Vikings do. Postgame locker room footage, something that decades ago was reserved for Super Bowl games, is now routinely delivered to the team’s website, free for fans to consume whenever and wherever they wish. (Olson, January 7, 2016, para. 7)
The problem, of course, is what happens when sports teams provide preferential treatment for their in-house media organizations. This often manifests itself in the form of declining access to what we consider traditional mainstream media. I’m not accusing the Vikings of doing this, just pointing it out. College athletic departments received attention this past football season for imposing restrictions on access and reporting, including Tennessee and Jackson State. Two years ago, Newcastle United issued an outright ban on journalist access to the club.
I commend the Vikings and all the other organizations which create their own content such as this. It provides a great supplement to existing mainstream media coverage, a point Olson makes in her piece.
Both Warren and Wilf say the goal is to supplement rather than supplant traditional media with the homemade content. (Olson, January 7, 2016, para. 20)
When teams or athletic departments, particularly those which use public funds in their operations, replace mainstream media coverage of sport organizations with their own content, objectivity may be loss. I have a manuscript under review which considers the legal problems state universities, functioning as state actors, might have in enforcing media restrictions while simultaneously pumping out their own content in journalistic-style form. If we broadly define “media” to focus on the activity of journalism, rather than the profession of journalism, then my conclusion was organizations may encounter legal difficulties.
Hopefully the article is accepted, and we can discuss more about this issue.