To Blog Or Not To Blog?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Transcript

Why is Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban debating journalistic ethics on his blog? Well, he agreed to an interview with GQ Magazine and was upset that reporter Will Leitch blogged about him later. Leitch, who also edits the sports blog Deadspin, defends his post-interview post.

Comments [3]

Johny

Stop hatin on Cuba

Mar. 11 2008 08:21 PM
Molly Peterson from Los Angeles, CA

Will Leitch could have blogged about an interview done by someone else and used the same comment Mark Cuban made: it was in the public realm at that point.

It's not like he took quotes or comments that did not make it into the GQ article and repurpose them for Valleywag's or Deadspin's gain. When Cuban agreed to let someone come and talk to him in person from GQ, he agreed to let someone experience an audience with him. Leitch didn't abuse that confidence. If Mark Cuban drinks his own urine or collects toenail clippings in a cup like Howard Hughes (or rather, Leonardo DiCaprio's version of Howard Hughes) I don't know about it from Leitch.

Instead Leitch expressed an opinion. About something that was published. On a blog. Whether or not he gathered the publicly-available quote seems mostly irrelevant, actually. (This is not to say that his expressing his opinions should/could/would not have impacts on his future freelancing assignments. But, uh, if you know who Will Leitch is and think he does not have a perspective already, maybe you're thinking of a different guy.) And I'm not sure what relevance the outlet on which Leitch blogs matters when he's expressing an opinion, either.

I can't identify a specific (or for that matter generalized, but even The People's Court had standards) harm to Mark Cuban. None of this is Leitch's fault.

Feb. 07 2008 04:52 PM
Sharon Kahn from New York

As a long-time PR pro, but also a freelance journalist, I'm inclined to side with Mr. Cuban. I understand Mr. Leitch's point that he was blogging about his GQ interview. He could argue, too, that if the article is publicized by GQ, Leitch could legitimately be interviewed in any medium about his story. But there’s a finer point at play here--and one that has nothing to do with changing rules on the blogosphere: Leitch’s own description of circumstances makes clear that this is an issue of good faith negotiation.

As a general rule, in organizing an interview at this level, there is a discussion of terms during which freelancers say "I might use this story for other outlets as well.” The interview subject (or rep) can discuss further and decide whether or not to proceed. Leitch says he knew Cuban had agreed to the interview with the understanding that the story was for GQ. Leitch also argues that, just as the interview was beginning, he quickly mentioned to Cuban that he might be writing elsewhere. Whether or not Leitch meant it this way, this “disclosure” is effectively an ambush. It puts the interviewee in the terrible position of either walking out because terms have changed (and suffering ensuing negative publicity), or of remaining in a situation he had negotiated to avoid. A journalist doesn’t owe his/her subject a pleasant interview or positive coverage—but a good faith negotiation is, ethically, the journalistic equivalent of Miranda rights.

Feb. 04 2008 03:15 PM

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