Sam Caplan notes that Josh Gross, Editor of Sherdog.com, is stepping down from his position there to take up a writing gig at SI.com and rightly wonders whether Dana White's longstanding ban/refusing to credential Gross will carry over when he takes up his spot at one of the most legitimate sporting news outlets in America. More importantly, Sam raises the question of what might happen to both the UFC and Gross if White continues the ban. Notable quote:
So while I don't think not having access to the UFC would hurt SI's coverage, I do think it could hurt the UFC. As I've stated in the past, the UFC has some very rigid media policies and as a young company in a young sport, I still don't think they understand the concept of balanced coverage. Not everyone is going to be 100 percent positive about their product all of the time and when someone is negative or gives coverage to another promotion, I think the UFC takes it personally. I don't know if they realize that journalists are different than that of a public relations writer.
But by dealing in absolutes when it comes to certain members of the media, I do feel the UFC is hurting the long-term growth prospects of not only its own company, but also the sport. There are still many skeptics of MMA within the mainstream media and there are still many hurdles to climb when it comes to convincing people in key editorial positions that MMA is worth time and attention. Trying to be over-bearing when major media outlets try and cover you is not going to win you allies and not cooperating with a Time Warner-backed company such as SI isn't going to help the sport grow.
All too true.
But here's the salient issue in my mind: SI.com shouldn't stand for it. Sites like the one you are reading now and others similar to it - "new media" - don't get credentialed for any number of odd reasons and the vast majority of the mainstream press couldn't be happier be about it. That's unfortunate, because the fact is our best ally in the fight to get credentialed is when those in the mainstream press take our position in the debate or sympathize with our mission. In the same way, other MSM outlets should stand up for Gross and SI.com should the UFC choose not to credential him. If this site tried to raise a stink, no one at Zuffa would care very much. But if ESPN, CBS and NBC openly criticized the UFC for their attempts to control media coverage, the UFC would be under intense pressure to change.
I hope Gross gets credentialed, but if he doesn't, I hope the editors at the major outlets are prepared to take their fellow journalist's side. Best of luck, Josh.