MMA journalists shut out of Strikeforce event

April 9, 2011

The media for tonight’s Strikeforce event will have a few less covering it as Zuffa has denied access to several media members for tonight’s fights.

Media members were required to fill out an application to receive media access for the Strikeforce event. The application included a set of Professional Journalism Policies. Notably, Loretta Hunt of CBS and Josh Gross of ESPN and Jeff Sherwood of Sherdog.com were denied credentials for tonight’s event.

As a result of Hunt not receiving access, CBS Sports will not cover tonight’s Strikeforce event. This should concern Zuffa since Strikeforce has ties with Showtime/CBS. Any hopes of a network broadcast on CBS may be fractured by this snub. Although Gross was denied access, ESPN will have coverage of the event through MMA Live’s Franklin McNiel.

Bloody Elbow opines:

It’s a curious policy, and one that prevents talented journalists from offering comprehensive coverage of the sport of MMA and Zuffa’s MMA organizations. I don’t believe the Zuffa is “wrong” for their media policy. They are within their rights to withhold access from any individual or organization that they see fit.

Zuffa wants coverage in which they can control the narrative to some degree, and they are willing to cut off legitimate sources in order to achieve that goal. It’s an unwritten contract that regularly credentialed publications must live up to should they want to continue to receive direct access to UFC events.

Cage Potato has more including a twitter response from Dana White. The Cage Potato indicates that the exclusion of Gross, Hunt and Sherwood may be due to past run-ins with White.

Payout Perspective:

We shall see if anything is different for the credentialed media and if coverage of tonight’s event will differ from prior coverage. Who will have access to the fighters after fights? How will the press conference be run? It will be interesting if the new media policy will continue into UFC 129. Although new to Strikeforce, it is not unusual to vet media requests in professional sports. The surprise is that several notable journalists tied with reputable outlets (and avid readership) have been shut out of coverage. Is the exclusion of certain journalists punitive for past run-ins with the UFC? Is it a message to those excluded that they need to change the way they write to regain access? As journalists covering an event, access is needed to obtain good articles.

If the UFC and Strikeforce are to be considered on par with other major sports leagues it must allow access to those that may have a differing view. There needs to be some level of journalistic freedom for writers to express their point of view. That is where public relations can come in to assist and educate journalists to some degree. Certainly, Zuffa can demonize the internet message boards and web sites that have a contrary view to it. But eliminating certain outlets may be detrimental to long-term growth as a company and as a sport.

16 Responses to “MMA journalists shut out of Strikeforce event”

  1. el chango on April 9th, 2011 12:36 PM

    Here is why Zuffa doesn’t care if those journalist aren’t in the building…. because those journalist will still cover it from home and fill their websites with coverage of the event. What does Zuffa lose in that scenario?

  2. Sundog on April 9th, 2011 2:24 PM

    El Chango is right – plus, I just think Dana honestly doesn’t respect the three reporters involved. The question in my mind is, if ZUFFA now controls the sport, how long will CBS, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN be willing to put up with the fact that Loretta Hunt and Josh Gross can’t get credentialed? I’m confident Dana would like to have those outlets covering his show, and I’m willing to bet a different reporter would be credentialed in a second.

    Sherwood runs his own show, so he’s covered as long as they remain successful with their current model, but we’re seeing an interesting transition from the old-school to a major sport, and reporters who picked fights with Dana in the past are not likely to find a place in the future of the UFC or Strikeforce.

  3. Diego on April 9th, 2011 3:26 PM

    I was wondering if they would to this. Coker had a good reputation with all journalists despite the criticism he received at their hands. So much for “business as usual”.

  4. Diego on April 9th, 2011 3:41 PM

    Things like this are completely unnecessary. I’d love to see Kenny or Rashad address it on MMA Live like real journalists would.

  5. Machiel Van on April 9th, 2011 10:02 PM

    Well, it’s “business as usuual” from a Zuffa, LLC standpoint that’s for sure. These kinds of denials of credentials have happened in the past. The question is, why? Is it simply to freeze out journalists that Zuffa feels have questioned and ridiculed the way they do business? Seems awfully petty, regardless of the true reason. As el chango stated, the journalists will still find a way to provide coverage of the event. On the other hand, maybe there were a few “applications” for spots on Press row that Zuffa was more interested in? (innappropriate question mark intentional)

    I’m not sure about any possible benefit from freezing out ESPN. Freezing out CBS, on the other hand, may be a message to CBS/Showtime that “we don’t need you and don’t care about this TV deal.” As many have speculated, the Strikeforce brand likely remains viable based solely on the existence of a TV contract obligation to Showtime, which is to run either 16 events (from what date?) OR until 2014. This move (although Loretta Hunt has never been on Dana White’s good graces) could have been a message to CBS/Showtime. I mean, denying someone creentials who is working for your “partners” is a pretty strong statment IMO.

  6. Steve on April 10th, 2011 4:41 AM

    You mess with the bull, you get the horns.

    Hunt, Gross, and Sherwood have all messed with the bull for nearly decade. This should surprise no one.

  7. BrainSmasher on April 10th, 2011 12:47 PM

    “There needs to be some level of journalistic freedom for writers to express their point of view.”

    That is true. However, is it professional journalism to release results of TUF to spite the subject you are supposed to report on? These “journalist” have went out of their way to wage war on the UFC and even align themselves with all UFC enemies. Hunt just happened to start trouble with Dana White which led to him calling her names which she blew up into a big deal. She wasnt just writing her opinion. She had an agenda. She just happened to be writting Couture book at the time and Couture was battling the UFC in court to fight Fedor.

    Hopefully CBS and ESPN realize the scumbags they hired and can them. To many MMA internet journalist rode the UFC for years and stabbed then in the back for their own greed once the popularity of the sport took off. Now they are mad when the UFC is back in a position of power. They are left on an Island with nothing but burning bridges around them.

    I have been following this sport hardcore online since the mid 90′s. I remember when news sites would encourage fans to support the sport, wear fight apparel, buy fighter clothes, tune in when its on tv. Signing off very article with “support the sport”. Then you see someone like Gross go out of his way to kill the ratings of TUF which is what made this sport what it is today. He didnt get what he wanted and was perfectly willing to take the entire sport out with his tantrum. There is no place for people like him in this sport. This sport isnt here just to give him a paycheck. That goes for all of them.

  8. BrainSmasher on April 10th, 2011 12:57 PM

    Journalists are supposed to be unbiased. Everyone knows these 3 are clearly bias. There is no reason for the UFC to let them cover their sport. They dont want the UFC to succeed because they made enemies and their job would be at risk because of their past. They always put a negative spin on any UFC news. There 3 are no better than any other journalist. Why do them favors when there are many others who love the sport and would love the opportunity to cover the sport and benefit from the near exclusivity? There is no reason to let these 3 profit from the UFC.

  9. Diego on April 11th, 2011 10:35 AM

    Journalists in other sports routinely blast coaches, managers, players, commissioners, etc. and don’t get banned. These kinds of actions don’t help the growth of the sport. Gross, Hunt and Sherwood weren’t banned because they have an agenda, they were banned because they don’t share Dana’s agenda. At some point Dana is going to have to grow up and realize that not everyone is going to agree with him on everything, and yes, negative articles will be written about the UFC just like they are written about every sport league in the world.

  10. mmaguru on April 11th, 2011 1:41 PM

    At the end of the day, no one really loses. All of these journalists can cover the show and continue with whatever style journalism they see fit. As one poster mentioned, these people make a living off of reporting MMA, I don’t think we will see the day when they don’t bother anymore.

  11. BrainSmasher on April 11th, 2011 4:24 PM

    Diego

    “Gross, Hunt and Sherwood weren’t banned because they have an agenda, they were banned because they don’t share Dana’s agenda.”

    Really they dont have an agenda? So Gross released TUF results for no reason at all? lol He knew the results every season. He was pissed at the UFC and released them for spite. That is not professional and the UFC shouldn’t have to kiss his ass . Hell, even i knew results to part of one of the seasons because i trained with one of the contestants. Yet i didnt even have journalistic integrity to worry about and i still didnt get on the internet and tell anyone who was on the show until it was released and didnt give away the results i knew. I actually care about the sport and am not a scumbag like Gross.

    Hunt sided with Couture during their fall out and was writting his autobiography. Thats when she chose to drag the UFC through the mud. She had already chosen to be against the UFC.

    There are plenty of reporters and MMA sites who cover the UFC and say bad things about the UFC. The difference is they do it because it is their opinion. Not to further an agenda. There is no way to know what the real opinion of Hunt and Gross are because they are scheming to get book deals and align themselves with other Orgs, etc. Yahoo criticizes the UFC, all sites do at one point. The UFC still works with them. It has nothing to do with the UFC agenda. Which by the way is what create jobs for Hunt and Gross. If not Hunt would still be a MFS groupie while running off copies of FCF magazine. Gross would be working for peanuts at Sherdog. Instead they are affiliated with ESPN and CBS.

  12. Machiel Van on April 12th, 2011 7:20 AM

    It would be one thing if they were shutting people out left and right, but these individuals in particular have gone out of their way to get on Zuffa’s bad side. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of other MMA journalists who want to be at the events who don’t lambast Zuffa to this degree, jsut as Brainsmasher said. Why WOULD they give some of the available press credentials to any of these three?

  13. Diego on April 12th, 2011 12:56 PM

    Brain,

    I didn’t say they don’t have an agenda. Everyone has an agenda. I said that’s not the reason they were banned. They were banned because they pissed off Dana (meaning they didn’t share his agenda). Which is petty, small minded and arbitrary reason to ban someone. And if you want the sport to grow, this is not the way to do it.

    Machiel,

    Lambasting is a time-honored journalistic habit. Shutting out reporters leads to shutting out news outlets, and that’s bad for the sport. Yes, there are tons of journalists who want to be at the events. Most work for internet sites that only the hardcore fans read. Two of the reporters banned work for networks that have a great deal of mainstream appeal, and one of those networks is now no longer willing to cover the sport.

    Imagine if the SF PPV had a FightCamp 360 on CBS like they’re doing for Pacquiao-Mosely. That would have helped the PPV numbers in a big way. You can pretty much throw that out the window. That’s why they SHOULD give credentials to every major network and not worry about which journalist that network is sending.

    Not all the press is going to be good every day. Deal with it like a professional if you claim to be running a professional sport.

  14. Diego on April 12th, 2011 1:00 PM

    Brain,

    Gross and Hunt are scheming to get book deals and align themselves with other orgs? What? Do you take yourself seriously with these conspiracy theories?

  15. BrainSmasher on April 12th, 2011 3:59 PM

    I have supported my claims. You have no answer for the questions i ask. So i would say they are more than “conspiracy theories”. Gross new all the results to TUF but released 1. Why was that?
    Hunt happen to be doing Randys book and you dont think that had anything to do with her stance on Dana White? You dont think she makes money from the book? You dont think the book sales more copies WITH Randy fighting Fedor rather than retired? Dont be so gullible!

    “Two of the reporters banned work for networks that have a great deal of mainstream appeal, and one of those networks is now no longer willing to cover the sport.”

    You might want to get your facts straight before getting all carried away. CBS didnt report on this event. They never said they will no longer cover the sport. But whatever you need to tell yourself to fuel your childish Dana hate.

    BTW, i think Zuffa has done ore than enough in this sport to show they know what they are doing and how to grow this sport. Who are you to second guess an,y decision they make? Do you really think they want to hurt the growth of the sport and take money out of their pocket? Dont be ignorant. Internet warriors on all the forums want to think they not only know the sport better than the UFC but also business. People like you have been second guessing the UFC since 2001 and you are always wrong. It is never good to allow corrupt individuals to try and take you out without any consequence. It was veryy good for the sport to get these people out of it. The UFC is what created the sport, it is what drives the sport, and the sport cant grow with people trying to set the UFC back.

  16. BrainSmasher on April 12th, 2011 4:44 PM

    One last thing. You might want to actually read up on the history of the situation before you go defending the “innocent journalists”. Hunt wrote the dumbest article i ever read blasting the UFC. Even using anonymous sources as a way to cover up the fact she really had no sources. This was just an example of her create issues to slam the UFC when there was no issue.

    Sherwood started his fall out with Dana White because he wasnt making enough money on UFC DVD’s. Another example of greed over integrity. You cant be a credible news site and journalist when you let dealings on the side effects your opinions and facts.

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