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There Is Something Afoot In The Sports Blogosphere

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 8:26 AM, under

Athens, GA (Apr 22, 2008) - There is something afoot in the relationship between writers in the mainstream media (MSM) and sports blogging/bloggers. The something may be shocking to some, as sports writers (and other writers) in the mainstream media are suddenly screaming about bloggers rights when it comes to their own blogs or participation in blogs.

First, there is an uproar when Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban bans a main stream media blogger from the Mavericks' locker room. The tenor was something akin to "how dare he cut off access!", as if MSM blogs have some edge in credibility over non-MSM blogs. In fairness, they do for the most part, and the basic reason for that is professional accountability and connections built from years of experience.

But what happens when the two worlds collide? As Michael Tunison, formerly of the Washington Post, learned the hard way, you lose your job. Much has been said and written that he feels it is unfair of the Post to cite "conflict of interest" as he is not a sportswriter. Tunison needs to look deeper and look into himself. He was fired for a conflict of interest arising from his profanity-laced writing on a sports blog. The Post does not write profanity.

He decided to "come out" as one of that blog's writers in order to be "accountable". Well guess what? He is being held accountable. While it is not known if the Post had a real written policy that forbade his unpaid outside activities, his writings proved to be an embarrassment and a business risk to the company. Sports journalists have recognized this, that is why their profanity and content filled with obscene sexual references, often times bashing their bosses, on SportsJournalists.com are hidden behind fake names. They know that if they are "outed", they stand to lose their jobs.

Tunnison took a huge brisk in both writing for that blog, and in coming out. The Washington Post measured the risk, and decided he needed to go. That is called brand and reputation management. If readers are truly interested in more about this risk and how it needs to be managed, you can read an article I wrote for Compliance Solutions Advisor Magazine entitled "Managing the Business Risk of Blogs."

There are rules to the game, and MSM needs to realize they do not get Carte Blanche based on their position alone.

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