Jermaine Every: Is the NFL controlling the narrative, or catering to media partners?
Monday was another average day at Gow Media. Some of the personalities have taken vacation, so some of your favorite shows had fill-ins. The Bench had Lance Zierlein and Raheel Ramzanali instead of John Granato with Del Olaleye producing. Charlie Pallilo was replaced by Raheel and Del, with Tyler Scott producing. The Usual Suspects are the Cal Ripken of ESPN 97.5 because they’re always there. Joel Blank, Barry Laminack, and producer Nick Sharara held down the 1-4 p.m. slot as usual. Barry wasn’t even on his typical world tour doing comedy. Even when he is, he’s on-air from a remote studio. The Blitz, the No. 1 one show in the market so far every month in 2018, was intact with Fred Faour, AJ Hoffman, and producer Jong Lee. These shows have more than held their own in this market, often times they occupy most of the top slots.
Seeing as this station has occupied most of the top slots in the ratings, you would think the Texans would be more than happy to grant them media credentials for the season, right? WRONG! Word came down today that for the third year in a row (possibly fourth, I’ve lost track of the count), ESPN 97.5 will have to apply on a game by game basis for FOUR credentials! They most likely won’t even offer up parking passes. I know. I know. Parking passes are first world problems. But if you’ve ever had to pay for parking at a Texans’ game, you’d know how much of a hassle it is to park further away at a cheaper rate, or to pony up the money to park closer. So who exactly are they saving all this space for?
Their radio partner, A.K.A. “Houston’s Sports Leader,” gets everyone credentialed, including Tammy from accounting. And we all know how Tammy from accounting acts in public after a few drinks. Their television partner gets the same treatment. I’ve also been in the press box when The Beaumont Telegraph, KPPH-TV of Nacogdoches, and KBHY of Jefferson have had at least one or two seats. Not to say the smaller newspaper, television, or radio outlets don’t deserve access to cover the team, but what about one of the most successful, locally-owned media companies?
At one point in time, I thought this was strictly a Texans issue. My thought was: Kevin Cooper is gone, now they’ve put someone in his place that wants to control things and let that power get to their head. However, after looking into the situation by consulting with industry professionals around the country, other media outlets are having similar issues with other NFL teams granting them access via credentials. Yes. I know the NFL has its own network to put over. I know they want people to put eyes and ears on their version of the product, but what about the honest opinions and analysis of others?
Some may be thinking “here’s another fluff piece in-house,” and you’d be wrong. I can write my Texans column without having to be at the game. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t like crowds or dealing with an overwhelming amount of people unless absolutely necessary. I can also write my NFL column more effectively from home since the NFL bars you from watching Sunday Ticket inside an NFL stadium. Yet another attempt of them to control how you consume their product, I might add.
This was about the NFL setting a dangerous precedent. If an entity can control what media is allowed to cover said entity, it shapes the public perception of that entity. If they’re allowed to control who covers them, how they are covered will be dictated as well because media outlets given access will feel pressure to cover them favorably to maintain access. Look no further than what President Trump did to a CNN reporter recently. CNN’s rival news network Fox News even issued a statement of solidarity. This is akin to a teacher giving the class a survey on his/her teaching methods/style, but hinting at the results of the survey affecting their grade. It’s blackmail in a suggestive form. Commissioner Roger Goodell has enough to worry about. From CTE, to the national anthem, to disciplinary problems, his plate is beyond full. Unnecessarily adding total control of media access won’t help his cause. It’ll only make him more vilified than he already is and the media will happy to cover his downfall.