Give credit to Mark Cuban for one thing, if nothing else: he always makes the Mavericks interesting.
Last Friday, Cuban revoked the season media credentials for ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein. I wrote extensively today about how it happened, why Cuban was upset and what parts of ESPN’s coverage concerned him.
Cuban was kind enough to return a lengthy comment when reached for the story. I have already published a significant portion of what he emailed me, but I figured it’s only fair to publish the rest here. As mentioned, here’s my story, which can provide plenty of additional context surrounding the situation.
Here’s the email Cuban sent me, with very slight edits for presentation.
It's not about what they are doing now. It's what I think the direction of nba coverage is
I think we will see a trend towards more and more wire service coverage for game reports . With reporters like Tim and Marc focusing on breaking stories and features
Based on the quick advances in machine and deep learning and NLP among other technologies , we will inevitably see in the nba , NHL, MLB , MLS and other sports that play a lot of games , automated/robotic reporting .
Instead of a wire reporter we will see data fed into algorithms and game summaries spit out
I think that is a long term problem for all sports.
So what does that have to do with credentials for reporters ?
If I did nothing and the trend towards more and more games being covered by wire reporters continues , then it could get to the point where it was too late
I felt like if I didn't do it now, I wouldn't have a chance to stop or slow what I felt was a negative trend for the Mavs and NBA
This wasn't about editorial. It wasn't about a reduction in number of games this year. We had the same coverage as last year
Honestly, what I didn't know was that this was happening to 18 other teams as well. That's a lot of games with only wire service coverage
I expect the number of wire service games at espn to grow quickly ( this is my guess, not what they told me ) and in the near future those wire service reporters would be replaced with algorithmic reporting from companies like automated insights
I obviously could be wrong , about all this but I trust my tech instincts. I don't think of automated reporting of game summaries as a possibility , I look at it as an inevitably over the next five years
And I think if we let it happen it's a huge negative for the Mavs and NBA.
I reached out not just to espn, but to all our beat writer publishers and asked what I could do to make sure that we got coverage of all of our games
The only publisher that resisted was espn.
I kept talking to espn, but we weren't able to work anything out
We left respecting each other's business decisions
I don't what happens next with espn. I'm wide open to let them return
But my concerns have to be addressed.
I want our fans, Nba and MAVS, to be able to go to a team page of our beat writers knowing they are going to get high quality, in depth coverage of every game . Not some or even most games
When a fan goes to a Mavs page and the only coverage is a wire service or eventually an automated summary, one highlight and a tweet , that hurts all stake holders
That's my logic
Now you all can hate on me all you want :)