MMA Media Matters: Can You Trust What You Are Reading?

October 30, 2008

Ivan Trembow has a piece up that asks the hard questions about the UFC’s policy of buying off coverage from mainstream media outlets. Dana White recently elaborated on the UFC’s practice of exchanging of cash for coverage with respect to Scott Ferrall. Trembow boils down the argument pretty well:

So, without full disclosure from any media outlet that is being paid by Zuffa to cover UFC events, this runs the risk of tainting the water for everyone who covers MMA because consumers have no way of knowing which media outlets are being paid by Zuffa to cover UFC events and which ones aren’t. Without full disclosure from these media outlets, there’s no way to distinguish between media outlets who praise the UFC for genuine reasons and media outlets who praise the UFC because they’re “being paid to like it.”

This area is only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to the media and how it relates to the UFC. Through various deals with media outlets, or the tying of access to coverage, what we have arrived at is a MMA media corps that lacks any adversarial role in its coverage of the UFC. And with a fanbase that is generally conditioned to support the organization over the fighters or the sport itself, you are left with readership that doesn’t care if the tough questions are asked. One of the best pieces of radio I have heard in the past few years was the infamous Dan Patrick interview of NBA head David Stern, with Patrick raking Stern over the coals for his suspension of players for a playoff game. Would that kind of scenario even be possible in MMA?

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