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Saints continue dot.com media policy with banishment of NewOrleans.Com reporter

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Saints continue dot.com media policy with banishment of NewOrleans.Com reporter Written by Les East | Thursday, 28 January 2010 19:23 | Les East's Blog METAIRIE - NewOrleans.Com Saints beat writer Brian Allee-Walsh was banned from the New Orleans Saints media ...

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Old 01-29-2010, 12:11 AM   #1
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Saints continue dot.com media policy with banishment of NewOrleans.Com reporter

Saints continue dot.com media policy with banishment of NewOrleans.Com reporter
Written by Les East | Thursday, 28 January 2010 19:23 | Les East's Blog

METAIRIE - NewOrleans.Com Saints beat writer Brian Allee-Walsh was banned from the New Orleans Saints media workroom Thursday and denied access to all Saints media availabilities prior to the team departing for Super Bowl XLIV on Monday.

It was the latest in a series of incidents in which the Saints front office has singled out Walsh and NewOrleans.Com for exclusion from standard media access even though the organization granted full season credentials to NewOrleans.com before the start of training camp.

The Saints’ actions will have no effect on NewOrleans.Com’s comprehensive coverage of the team once it arrives in Miami on Monday for the Super Bowl XLIV game against the Indianapolis Colts on Feb. 7. The NFL handles credentials for the Super Bowl and has approved NewOrleans.Com for two credentials, including one for Walsh, to cover the game and the entire week.

“We’re disappointed,” NewOrleans.Com President Donald Jones said. “We have repeatedly requested meetings with the Saints organization to resolve the issue. Within the past 18 months, NewOrleans.Com has carefully assembled an award-winning Sports staff of writers and producers that have been well-established in our community for years. Some of our contributors are known and followed on a national basis as well.

“There’s not another website in this region that has our growth and velocity in Sports and our audience continues to rival or exceed that of many other media organizations, including radio and television, because of the quality of our content. Hopefully, we will have the opportunity to meet with the Saints at the conclusion of this extraordinary and historical season.”

NewOrleans.Com officials have held off on reporting on the restricted access, which began Nov. 25 and was expanded in late December, because behind-the-scene efforts were being made through proper channels – the Pro Football Writers of America and the NFL – to try and resolve the situation.

Walsh was credentialed for each of the Saints’ two playoff games in the Superdome – a 45-14 victory against Arizona on Jan. 16 and a 31-28 overtime victory against Minnesota in the NFC Championship game last Sunday. He was also allowed access during the week leading up to the championship game because the NFL, not the Saints, was in charge of media access for that week.

Though the NFL’s jurisdiction in New Orleans ended after Sunday’s game, Walsh was able to attend Payton’s news conference and the locker room availability with players on Monday.

There was no media access on Tuesday and Wednesday because the players were off. When Walsh returned to the media workroom at mid-day Thursday in preparation for Payton’s and the players’ availabilities, he was told my a member of the Saints media relations office that he would have to leave because he did not have a credential for the availability in New Orleans on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

“The team has discretion on credentialing access to our practice and currently we are strictly enforcing that policy,” Saints Vice President of Communications Greg Bensel said in an email to NewOrleans.Com. “We are falling in line with what the majority of the other NFL teams are doing with regards (to) the numerous dot com’s that cover our teams.”

According to an informal poll conducted by CBSSports.com of its league-wide stable of correspondents in late November, a minimum of 28 of the 32 NFL teams allow web outlets to observe practice, which New Orleans.com was allowed to do with Saints practices until shortly after Walsh’s arrival in mid-November.

The NFL will take over all Super Bowl media-related activities beginning Monday.

“Each club makes the determination as to the news organizations that are credentialed in their markets for access to their practice facility and games,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to NewOrleans.com on Thursday. “We have never defined the local media for a team.”

NewOrleans.Com Sports, which is fully credentialed by the NFL, the Hornets, LSU, Tulane, and was fully credentialed by Major League Baseball and the Houston Astros last summer, has been credentialed for full Saints coverage since it was launched 19 months ago.

The Pro Football Writers of America have supported NewOrleans.Com’s efforts to get Walsh and the web site fully reinstated.

“The Pro Football Writers of America had hoped that this matter would be resolved internally between the parties,” PFWA President Charean Williams, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s NFL writer, said in a statement. “We are disappointed it wasn’t. NewOrleans.Com has made a significant commitment, both financially and professionally, to provide a serious journalistic approach to covering sports in their city.

“Brian Allee-Walsh has covered the NFL for more than 20 years, and other members of NewOrleans.Com have similar experience covering the league. Therefore, the PFWA maintains that this gives NewOrleans.Com credibility and legitimacy, which in turn should automatically grant the organization credentials to cover the team on a regular basis. We will continue to address this with both the Saints and the league, because of the obvious concern that teams will be allowed to ban members of the media at their discretion.”

The Saints have repeatedly said the ban is part of an ongoing effort to adapt to the expansion of web sites seeking to be credentialed.

However, no other media outlet has been banned in a manner consistent with the policy applied to NewOrleans.Com. Reporters who are credentialed through other media outlets and contribute to NewOrleans.com have been unaffected and continued to write for the web site.

Walsh, an award-winning 23-year veteran of covering the Saints, chose to retire from the Times-Picayune in November, and joined NewOrleans.Com/Sports as a credentialed member of the media shortly thereafter.

On November 25, Walsh was singled out by a Saints media relations representative and barred from the portion of practice that is open to the media.

A CBSSports.com article last week speculated that Walsh’s banishment was related to something he had written about Saints running back Reggie Bush a few days earlier, but there has been no indication from the Saints that the two were related.

After NewOrleans.com questioned why Walsh was being singled out, two days later the Saints added representatives of CBSSports.com and WWL-TV.com to the list of credentialed media banned from watching practice, citing the “dot com” policy. Bensel said the policy allowed only NFL “affiliated” web sites to cover practice.

NewOrleans.Com/Sports, CBSSports.com, and WWL-TV.com were able to continue covering the team’s news conferences, the locker room, and games until Walsh’s complete banishment in late December.

CBSSports.com and WWL-TV.com continue to have access to news conferences, the locker room, and games. Times-Picayune reporters, who regularly post on NOLA.com, the newspaper’s web site, which is not affiliated with the team or the league, has had uninterrupted access to practice.

Walsh’s complete banishment came just hours after a Payton news conference during which Walsh asked the coach if there was any truth to a radio report that tight end Jeremy Shockey’s toe injury was not football related and that the injury had led to friction between Shockey and the organization and between Shockey and Payton.

Payton seem nonplussed by the question and answered it, refuting each aspect of the report, which had been buzzing around the Internet.

That evening, Bensel sent an email to Walsh in which he cited the question about Shockey before saying neither Walsh nor NewOrleans.Com would be credentialed and therefore were banned from news conferences, access to the facility, locker rooms, games, and any other Saints media event.

At least two other news organizations reported Walsh’s question and Payton’s answer with impunity. Ironically, the Walsh question and the Payton response were played up bigger on NewOrleansSaints.com than on NewOrleans.Com/Sports. The news conference transcript, including the Shockey issue, was posted on the Saints’ official web site. Walsh merely mentioned it dozens of paragraphs into a notebook.

At that point, NewOrleans.com solicited the assistance of the PFWA, which asked the NFL to intervene. The NFL talked with the Saints and chose not to intervene further, citing its preference for individual organizations to handle their own credentialing issues.

However, it later appeared that a second conversation between the NFL and the Saints would lead to NewOrleans.Com Sports having its credentials reinstated in the week prior to the first playoff game.

On the Tuesday before the game, Bensel said the web site’s credentials would be reinstated for Saturday’s game and Walsh would be allowed access to the team’s facility beginning Wednesday. Shortly afterward the Saints reversed field and said the ban would remain in effect through Friday, though Walsh would be credentialed for the game Saturday.

Walsh and the NewOrleans.Com team will continue to cover the Saints’ historic run comprehensively.


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Old 01-29-2010, 12:47 AM   #2
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Re: Saints continue dot.com media policy with banishment of NewOrleans.Com reporter

I think we're getting a little too silly with all these injury report mind-games. Payton and the front office look like they're having a huge control-freak meltdown with this kind of behavior. Its just immature and silly
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Old 01-29-2010, 06:07 AM   #3
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Re: Saints continue dot.com media policy with banishment of NewOrleans.Com reporter

There are two sides to every coin.

It could be that the small dot.com has drawn enough viewership to garner paranoia from the larger media outlets.

Hollyweird gets nervous that way about guppy.coms who become bigger fish and start to swwwim much faster than the established media outlets.

Big Media pays the NFL gazillions. They are in bed with the NFL and whisper in the ear to get rid of the little guys.

Merely a theory.

Last edited by Choupique; 01-29-2010 at 06:09 AM..
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