Talking about access and control

From the Student Press Law Center: Journalism groups express frustration with NCAA policies affecting media.

Ten media organizations sent a letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association last week expressing its frustration with the athletic group’s unwillingness to discuss journalists’ concerns about credentialing and other issues.

“The undersigned organizations are writing to express our profound disappointment with the NCAA’s recent actions affecting journalists’ ability to cover your member institutions’ activities,” reads the letter, which was signed by representatives from the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Student Press Law Center, among others.

“In short, our concerns and frustrations are mounting, with a long period of unproductive interaction leading to this follow up letter.”

Restrictions placed on media credentials is the main concern raised in the letter, a situation that has become more onerous in recent years, said Kevin Goldberg, an attorney who represents ASNE.

The letter cites instances where reporters have been faced with “unduly restrictive credentialing conditions” with regard to social media use and other coverage efforts.

More and more you see programs doing more and more of their own media, in inventive and more direct ways than traditional media outlets are providing. They are going directly to their audience with an effective aspect of branded journalism. Programs are going around the media filter, utilizing their hyper-control of their access to the on-field product and speaking directly to their fanbases.

This is a big deal for the media outlets, of course, who are presently getting edged out. They’ll need to find a way to deliver a new and compelling aspect or version of the product to the wider audience to compensate.

In some respects this is not unlike what is happening with political reporters. Poynter reports: White House press complain about access to president.

President Obama’s staff “often finds Washington reporters whiny, needy and too enamored with trivial matters or their own self-importance,” Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen write in Politico. So they limit the president’s availability to the White House press corps, hand out photos and do document dumps on Friday afternoons. “Media across the ideological spectrum are left scrambling for access,” VandeHei and Allen write.

If you control the source material you can control the message. Everyone — SIDs, political handlers, public relations practitioners and executives — like to maintain control of their message. The ability to appeal directly to their targeted audience with ever-greater efficacy means they can go around the media (who like control themselves) means you’ll continue to have more conflicts of this sort.

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