An open letter to Mark Cuban
My name is Andrew Kamenetzky. Along with my brother Brian, I cover the Lakers for the Los Angeles Times' Lakers Blog. The work we do complements our paper's beat writer and columnists. In some ways, we bridge the two parties, combining a style similar to the latter with a goal of spending as much time around the team as the former. We attend and cover practice whenever possible. We attend every home game, doing extensive pre/in/post-game reports. We occasionally go on the road (I'm actually planning on being in Dallas a week from today for their game against the Mavericks). We've covered the Lakers since 2006 and through a combination of hard work, creativity and professionalism, have garnered ourselves a loyal, intelligent readership. I would also imagine we're not the only bloggers who've found similar success with a newspaper.
Because of this, I must say your decision to ban any writers with the word "blog" attached from the Mavs locker room is nothing short of a slap in the face. Not simply because it makes any work we'd do that much harder, but because the explanation provided on your own blog (irony alert!) doesn't even do us the respect of creating a plausible rationale. Your locker room is too small to house a few more writers? That's really what you're running with? A premium on elbow room? If things start getting really crowded come playoff time, will you demand that scribes lose a few pounds or find their credential yanked?
(By the way, I've been in your locker room. Not particularly small, by any means. And if you're looking to prove this weak point by linking a photo into your essay, you should have selected one with people actually clogging up the works. In your pic, the area looks sort of... well... big. Just a suggestion.)
The explanations you provide in backing your case are equally flimsy. For example, to say that ESPN's Marc Stein can write a blog, but escape "blogger" classification because of his reports on ESPN.com or ESPN's airwaves is not only a leap in logic, but actually undercuts your blog-banning premise. Stein's credibility doesn't come from whatever medium employed, but his employer. Are you telling me that if Stein wrote formal features for a low-profile website, then dropped by Wayne and Garth's pad to do his TV broadcast, he'd be treated the same way? I seriously doubt it. Stein is (and should be) issued a credential because he's with "The Four Letter Network" and they have credibility. As does a newspaper such as the Los Angeles Times. I'd say we've pretty much reached "on the map" status. As such, a certain amount of respect is expected. And in every case but yours, accorded.
Which brings me to my next point. Your theory that it's unfair to penalize certain bloggers because they're not backed by a paper is absurd. That's literally the job of your media relations department. They receive credential requests and evaluate their legitimacy. And I'm willing to bet a substantial sum (by my standards, at least) that they occasionally deny someone access, likely because the outlet they represent doesn't have enough clout, a scenario that goes beyond the cyberworld. I guarantee there's been a time when favor was granted to a writer from Sports Illustrated, but denied to a writer from Mom and Pop's Basketball leaflet. And guess what? That's exactly the way it should be, whether you're talking TV, newspapers, magazines, Internet, etc. Certain people have business brewing in the locker room, while others may desire that access, but either don't need it or haven't earned it. And at the risk of sounding like a snob, I should be in the Dallas' locker room and a guy who created an absolutely killer Mavericks blog in his spare time shouldn't. Why? Because this is my job and that's his hobby.
I can also put it to you in a way that paraphrases your own logic. "A blogger isn't a blogger isn't a blogger."
In making this dubious decision, you'll inevitably end up granting better access to various "non-blog" reporters who spend less time around the NBA (much less a specific team) than somebody in the trenches that happens to go by a certain title. By focusing on the semantics of "blog" and not actually bothering to evaluate content and context (one phone call to the Times would assure you that we're indeed held to strict standards, which is far closer to the norm than exception), you're punishing an entire group of writers with generalizations. Not to mention undercutting your own credibility.
I'm sorry, but this decision is miles beyond "curious." I can believe it's vindictive, considering this issue just "happened" to strike you as pressing right around the time you booted the Dallas Morning News' Tim MacMahon from these apparently tight quarters. It's rather coincidental that MacMahon has blogged about a team you own in your city's largest paper since 2006, but the day you learned of his existence "happened" to coincide with the day he wrote a post critical of Avery Johnson sitting Jason Kidd-- and doubting the honesty of your thoughts on the matter-- down the stretch of a 97-94 loss to the Spurs. I can also believe that you're looking to distract from the fact that the Mavs are an unimpressive 6-5 since acquiring Jason Kidd. I can also believe this is simply you craving a little spotlight. What I can't believe, however, is that a man who made a fortune through the Internet and can legitimately pride himself on an innovative nature is unable to distinguish between what I do as employment and a fan blogging in his basement. I ask that you please stop insulting my intelligence by claiming otherwise.
Like I said, I'll be in town for the Lakers-Mavs game. If you take exception to my thoughts, I'd be happy to discuss the matter with you in person. We can meet in front of the visitor's locker room. Or in the media room. Or the area where I'm seated for the game (which I'm now concerned might be up in the nosebleeds). Or your office. Or a particularly cozy AAC parking lot. Anywhere that's not inside the Mavs locker room works fine with me.
Thanks for your time,