It’s pretty well established that ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is at the top of the heap when it comes to NBA insiders capable of breaking news. When a #WojBomb drops, people notice and start talking. His reputation seemingly precedes him and, presumably, makes potential sources want to deliver news through him rather than, say, Shams Charania or Marc Stein.
But even those at the top can benefit from some good, old-fashioned self-promotion from time to time.
Former ESPN and The Athletic writer Ethan Strauss has a curious scoop on his House of Strauss newsletter on Friday. Strauss says he was forwarded “a packet of documents” that Wojnarowski reportedly sends to “agents and NBA team employees, as part of a personal campaign” to encourage them to leak news to him instead of other NBA insiders. A PowerPoint presentation includes social media and analytical comparisons between Woj’s reach and the reach of rival news breakers.
The document also reads that Woj is “is the undisputed top NBA media talent in the business,” and “his combined reach of 7.0M followers across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook is more than every other NBA media personality from the below comp set.”
Strauss says that although the ESPN brand is included on each slide, ESPN is not involved in the creation of the documents and had no knowledge that Wojnarowski was sending them out.
Strauss reached out to Woj and ESPN, with the former not answering and the latter declining comment.
As far as who actually created the packet for Wojnarowski, sources tell Strauss that it was Creative Artists Agency, the agency that represents Wojnarowski, as well as many NBA players, coaches, and executives. It’s presumed that’s why the document includes people like Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose, who are not known as news breakers but are repped by CAA.
So what does it all mean? Probably not too much in terms of how it will impact Woj’s status at ESPN and in the NBA insider world. This isn’t quite the same thing as Adan Schefter sending a story to a source for edits before posting, even if it reveals that the relationship between reporter and source can often be cozier than the public might think or expect.
But perhaps this kind of presentation is a good reminder that while Woj might seem all-powerful when it comes to breaking news and Woj Bombs, he is always reliant on the quality of his sources. And if NBA elites and power brokers aren’t giving him scoops, or if they start spreading those scoops around to other reporters, then it dilutes his ability to hold sway over the NBA world with a tweet, not to mention making him less valuable to ESPN.
As Strauss notes, the documents remind us that “no matter [Woj’s] power level, he needs [his sources] more than the other way around.”