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Why Did Mark Cuban Ban 2 ESPN Reporters From Covering The Mavericks?

Submitted by on November 8, 2016 – 12:11 pmNo Comment

Mark Cuban is a guy who seems to understand how important the media is when it comes to being successful. He has maintained an open and honest relationship with the media over the years and has used reporters to get his various thoughts on things out into the world. So it was pretty surprising to hear that, over the weekend, Cuban banned two ESPN reporters from covering a pair of Dallas Mavericks games. The owner of the Mavs reportedly pulled the media credentials of ESPN reporters Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein, because…well, it wasn’t intially clear why he decided to do it. Some reports indicated that Cuban was unhappy with the way ESPN has been covering the Mavs so far this season, and specifically, it seemed as though Cuban was angry with ESPN for refusing to cover the team full-time. Reporters like MacMahon and Stein were used on a part-time basis but were not scheduled to attend all of the Mavericks’ games.

Late Monday night, Cuban revealed why he decided to pull the media passes from MacMahon and Stein in the first place, and as it turns out, it had nothing to do with the way ESPN is covering the Mavs this season. Rather, Cuban wrote a letter to the Associated Press and said that he’s concerned that automated game reports are going to replace stories written by humans soon, which is why he decided to take a stand and ban MacMahon and Stein from games. It’s a peculiar strategy, seeing as how he’s essentially doing exactly what he doesn’t want to happen by keeping reporters out of games. But he said that he wants to draw attention to his concerns by taking this step.

“Maybe I will be wrong,” he said, “but I see a direct path from the trends in coverage of games we are seeing over the last couple years to the automation of reporting on games and the curation of related content. This isn’t a knock on wire services or their reporters. They are valued and valuable in sports coverage…While it may seem counterintuitive to ban someone from covering us as a way of stopping automation, it really was my only option. As is evident by the AP partnership with Automated Insights, it’s not if but when.”

Automated Insights is a company that has helped the AP to automatically generate stories on minor-league baseball games. The technology that they use has not been utilized to cover professional sports, but Cuban believes that it could happen sooner than later if someone doesn’t stand up against it.

Cuban has a right to feel the way he does about the idea of wire services and publications relying on automated stories in the future. It could obviously present a problem for those in the sports world. But as he mentioned, it seems counterintuitive to protest against automated stories by blocking a large media presence like ESPN out of your locker rooms. It will generate interest around Cuban’s concerns. In fact, it already has. But at what cost? It doesn’t feel like he’s ultimately going to be able to drive his points home by banning reporters from doing their jobs.

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