Business - Written by Denis Hancock on Tuesday, March 11, 2008 15:54 - 6 Comments
Mark Cuban: Villain, hero of the blogosphere
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is relatively well known on the web thanks to his ever-entertaining and informative blog. Given this reputation, many people were taken by surprise when they heard Mark Cuban had banned full-time bloggers from the Dallas Mavericks lockerroom, as reported in the Dallas news. Is is true, as Deadspin quipped, that “Mark Cuban dislikes bloggers who aren’t him?”
Well, no. But we’ll get to that in a second.
If you scan through the rest of the Dallas News story you see accusations it was a ”veiled attempt at retribution” towards a particular reporter, various writer/editor-types that “can’t imagine” the NBA would want to set this type of precedent, that it could set off some potential chaos that’s apparently brewing under the surface… it goes on and on from there. The quote that sums it up this sentiment the best:
At a time when professional bloggers are gaining respect across the board, this seems to represent a leap backward for the NBA.
Now you would think those on the “wikinomics team” would agree with this position, particularly those, you know, writing on the wikinomics blog and all. But I personally don’t, and the reasons why are sitting out there plain as day – right on Mark’s blog. If one reads his post about why he did what he did, rather than the Dallas News story, a far more clear-headed story seems to emerge.
Exhibit A, if you will, is a picture of the lockerroom in question. The room is kind of small. He’s worried about overcrowding, which seems fair enough. If all of the sudden being “a blogger” allowed you unfettered access to professional sports lockerrooms, can you imagine how many bloggers there would be? The blogosphere has almost infinite space and no “credentials”, the lockerroom has finite space that by nature must demand credentials to control access… something has to give.
Exhibit B is far more interesting though. Here’s Mark’s primary reason for booting out the particular blogger that’s stirred up all of this controversy:
(It wasn’t) because I don’t want this blogger in the locker room doing interviews. What I didn’t like was that the Morning News was getting a competitive advantage simply because they were the Dallas Morning News. I am of the opinion that a blogger for one of the local newspapers is no better or worse than the blogger from the local high school, from the local huge Mavs fan, from an out of town blogger. I want to treat them all the same.
Interesting, non? A principle of equality, and not wanting to give this one particular blogger a competitive advantage over the others simply because this particular blogger is tied to the major local newspaper. Score one for the little guy! Might that by why some of the people working for newspapers are having a tizzy over this issue?
Of course, being Mark Cuban, he didn’t leave it that… and went on quite an interesting rant about what terrible strategic decisions newpapers have been making. My favorite quote from this part:
Historically newspapers have set some level of standards that they strived to adhere to. By taking on the branding, standard and posting habits of the blogosphere, newspapers have worked their way down to the least common demoninator of publishing in what appears to be an effort to troll for page views.
Now I can imagine a time in the future where this strategy might have to be revisited. For example, a particular writter that starts out as a “blogger” may well become so popular someday that millions of people are visiting his site – making it a prime media destination. In turn, Mr. Cuban might decide to change the rules again and let that guy in. Alternatively, maybe a blogger credential system will evolve – who knows , anything could happen. Either way, if something like this happens he’ll have to make room… so maybe he’ll have to kick one of those other Dallas News writers out, further eroding one of the main competitive advantages that major newspapers have continued clinging to.
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