As print media struggles to find revenue sources and sports leagues continue to reap massive profits, we’ve seen teams and leagues take on a larger and larger role in creating online content.
In the latest sign that team websites are encroaching on territory once dominated by independent media, former longtime Sports Illustrated writer Don Banks is now publishing his weekly “Snap Judgments” column on Patriots.com, the team’s official web site.
After 16 years at SI, Banks was let go in August as a “salary cap cut” and earlier in the season had been sending his weekly Sunday night column to NFL.com. But according to The Big Lead’s Ryan Glasspiegel, NFL.com decided it didn’t need “Snap Judgments.”
Banks tells The Big Lead he is still contributing content to NFL.com, but the Sunday evening “Snap Judgments” column wasn’t a fit there because that is a time the site is loading up on video content, and the column was a little bit redundant to their “What We Learned” feature.
Cast off from NFL.com, Banks reached out to an acquaintance who serves as editor at Patriots.com and agreed to publish “Snap Judgments” there. Despite appearing on Patriots.com, the column won’t focus any more on the Patriots than it did before, The Big Lead reports. Last week’s column mentioned New England only incidentally.
Each NFL team operates its own website with its own rules about what writers can and can’t say. This system differs from that of MLB team sites, for example, which are run jointly by MLB Advanced Media and operate separate from the teams they cover. Patriots.com has a disclaimer on its site that all opinions “represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the New England Patriots organization, front office staff, coaches and executives.”
Along these lines, Banks told The Big Lead he had no editorial restrictions and was instructed to “Write it how you’ve always written it. If you need to be critical be critical.”
Of course, writing about the very people you are working for creates a variety of land-mines that Banks and other reporters like him have to navigate. He would surely be better off writing his column for Sports Illustrated, and we’d probably be better off reading it there. But given the economics of the sports media industry, we should get used to seeing writers we like reading popping up on team-run sites like Patriots.com.