SOURCE: Society of Professional Journalists

March 12, 2008 18:50 ET

SPJ Sends Letter of Protest After NBA Owner Bans Bloggers From Locker Room

INDIANAPOLIS, IN--(Marketwire - March 12, 2008) - Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists expressed deep concern to National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern on Wednesday in response to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's new media policy concerning bloggers.

According to a Dallas Morning News story, Cuban instituted a new policy that bans full-time bloggers from the team's locker room because of space concerns. However, the only news blogger to be permanently removed from the locker room is Morning News blogger Tim MacMahon, who also gathers quotes from players for beat writers. On Feb. 29, Cuban told MacMahon to leave the locker room, which was the same day MacMahon published a critical piece on Mavericks coach Avery Johnson.

"A journalists' job is to report the news accurately and without influence from third parties. Members of the public have a right to form their own opinions about public matters, including professional sports," said SPJ President Clint Brewer.

The team's new policy denies locker room access to writers whose "primary purpose is to blog." The policy states that the team does "not have enough room in the locker room, nor enough media passes to fairly accommodate everyone." It comes on the heels of Major League Baseball's Feb. 29 decision to ban news sites from publishing galleries of baseball game photos.

"This appears to be nothing more than a power play by one team to control media coverage," Brewer continued. "Unfortunately when sporting organizations make these decisions, it's the fans who ultimately lose."

In the letter issued to Commissioner Stern by SPJ, Brewer stated that he hopes the NBA will fully investigate the issue of locker room access for media bloggers. Furthermore, he offered SPJ's assistance in developing a compromise that favors equal access for journalists.

To read the complete letter, visit SPJ.org.

To voice concerns over Cuban's anti-media policy, please send a letter to NBA Commissioner David Stern at:

The National Basketball Association
645 Fifth Ave
New York, NY 10022

To read Cuban's full response or to comment on his decision, visit blog maverick.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed public, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ and SDX, please visit www.spj.org.

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