Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Newsday editors back after dispute with Cablevision over Knicks coverage

There is a very interesting development brewing right now at Newsday that could be one of those seminal moments in journalism, and something that would be a topic of discussion if I were still in Dr. K's Mass Media Criticism class at SUNY Cortland.

As you may know, Cablevision owns the New York Knicks and Newsday. Alan Hahn and Jim Baumbach, two writers for the Long Island newspaper, reported on the accusations of Eddy Curry's chauffeur and that seems to have irked the bosses at Cablevision.

According to Newsday's Spin Cycle blog, two of the paper's editors were MIA because of a dispute that many believe was caused by the decision to run with the Curry story. The editors have returned, after rumors they would be fired because Dolan & Co. were unhappy.

Here's what I am still wondering, though: Does the return of the editors mean that they stood up to the big-wigs and that journalistic integrity is still very much in tact? Or does it mean that the editors were punished and told never to cover the team in such a negative light again?

The latter would go against everything a journalist believes in, which is that the facts are the facts and that the story must be told. There are many people who feel it is impossible to be truly unbiased when your employer is the same as the team you're covering. Michael Kay of the Yankees' YES Network and Gary Cohen of the Mets' Sportsnet New York quickly come to mind as examples.

That is why this is such a fork-in-the-road situation. The Newsday editors can stay strong, holding true the morals of journalism, and show the doubters that they are unbiased. But if they don't do that, and somehow the coverage slants in the favor of the Knicks, it could mark the sad beginning to a slippery slope.

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