Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Our vested interests ...

McClatchy editors hate the idea of NFL photo vests with sponsor logos, as this quick sample of opinion Jill helped me gather will illustrate. (They also note some nuance here, and that there's precedent that didn't rise to the level of our attention).

We'll be working with professional associations and our own legal folks to support our editors as they deal with the NFL on this.

Ledger-Enquirer This doesn't directly affect us, since we do not shoot any NFL games. But we should fight this as much as we can. The NFL shouldn't be able to dictate to us that we become walking advertisements for it or one of its corporate sponsors.

Sun Herald I think this is a serious matter and media companies such as ours should join with all others who are impacted by this ridiculous demand, with the strongest opposition. If we accept this we are on a slippery slope that will be incredibly harmful to our future. If we advertise NFL today can Herbalife or Budweiser be far behind?

The Beaufort Gazette The Beaufort Gazette has never shot an NFL game, to my knowledge, but as a former sports editor who oversaw plenty of NFL coverage, I have some thoughts on the subject: It’s ridiculous for the NFL to mandate that photographers wear vests with Canon and Reebok logos. and newspapers are correct in fighting this one as much as they can. We go to great lengths to avoid even the perception of a conflict of interest, and this policy definitely would create that perception. It would be impossible to cover Canon or Reebok in news stories without some readers thinking we have a vested interest – bad pun, I know – in the company.

The Charlotte Observer We should collectively resist logoized vests. And I think we start with our local NFL franchises, and tell them logos are unacceptable. Then we, as a group, take our message up the NFL corporate chain.

The Herald It's unethical and manipulative. It makes us stooges of the NFL rather than independent news operations covering games.

The Island Packet It’s offensive to require professional photojournalists to wear something that promotes a product other than the newspaper, TV station or network they work for.

The News & Observer Photographers and reporters are not billboards. We shouldn’t do this.

Centre Daily Times We don't cover NFL games but my thoughts are in my blog. The NFL should get a penalty.

Anchorage Daily News Not being in an NFL city, we don't have much interaction with it.

Belleville News-Democrat My opinion of the vest program is that we should fight these requirements. I don't want our photographers to be walking billboards for anyone, and particularly as a condition of covering something. There are some ethics issues there.

Idaho Statesman Wearing vests to identify the working press is one thing, and photographers have had to do that for a long time. It’s quite another to be dressed in advertising logos, turning the press into “walking billboards,” as some have described. It’s something working journalists just shouldn’t do.

The Bellingham Herald It's outrageous. Don't know that no football photos will serve our readers, but I'd be willing to boycott. Easier to say in that we don't cover a team. Best would be negotiation with NPPA/AP/Newspapers and the NFL to get them to back off. Maybe a few more "greedy owners?"

The Kansas City Star I just read the letter ASNE is sending out to the NFL today (coming to you separately). It’s as you would imagine _ we’re committed to maintaining our integrity, blah, blah. However, I also had a discussion this morning with the longtime AP New York sports editor Terry Taylor and she was pretty ho-hum about the whole thing. She said, as our APSE legal affairs guy mentioned, that the vests are in fact very similar to ones worn by newspaper photographers at the Olympics, the Pan Am Games, etc. Those had ads on the back, whereas this version places it on the front. This precedent is a bit of a problem, and we don’t want to lose the leverage that AP New York gives us with the NFL. Our best bet is probably making the argument that while some photogs have worn the vests, many papers did not send shooters to those events and the vests would in fact force them to violate ethics policies. (They technically would violate The Star's ethics policy, for instance.) Through APSE, we can draft a letter to that effect in support of whatever APPM, ASNE and other organizations are doing. If needed, APSE might also be able to arrange a meeting with the league, since we are familiar with the players involved. Hope that’s brief enough.

The News Tribune I hate it, though I’m not sure what we can do about it. We’ve been wearing their green vests for years. But I do object to having our journalist turned into billboards for the NFL to sell.

The Olympian This NFL policy violates our newsroom code of ethics and should be resisted tooth and nail.

The Wichita Eagle We don't typically send photographers to Chiefs games, as we rely on the KC Star for this, but on principal, I think the NFL vest rule is appalling. We're increasingly faced with these "do what we say or you can't cover the game" directives (the NCAA's recent anti-blogging rules, for example) and I would love it if media outlets could band together to exercise enough clout to put a stop to this crap.

Tri-City Herald I don’t like the idea of photojournalists being forced to promote commercial products by wearing the vests. That violates our professional ethics standards. I think the bright red vests are likely to make a photographer into a highly visible target at some point when an out-of-control fan is unhappy about a game’s outcome. What’s wrong with a less visible, less commercial identifier?

Lexington Herald-Leader Until this issue came up, it hadn’t dawned on our visuals editor, Ron Garrison, that the photographers’ vests at the Kentucky Derby the past couple of years had Nikon logos on them. That said, we’re against turning our journalists into walking billboards for event sponsors. We would propose refusing to wear them or, failing that, wearing the vests inside out.

The Fresno Bee Maybe it’s time to look at sports coverage in general. We accept the best seats in the house for free; maybe it was inevitable that the bill would come due. Maybe we need to find a way to be more independent of sports organizations, even if it means we cover sports from paid seats rather than on the field or courtside. Then we can set our own terms. In the meantime, why not boycott photographic coverage of the NFL? Have readers submit their camera phone photos instead and use more graphics.

The Miami Herald With regard to the NFL's attempt to require photographers to wear vests with corporate logos (Canon, Reebok), we think the situation is a deliberate attempt by the league to give added exposure to advertisers. The NPPA has reacted strongly against the rule, and Kenny Irby of the Poynter Institute recommends newspapers pursue this issue with all means necessary. He listed the APPM, NPPA, APSE, APME, SND, ASNE and UNITY '08 as organizations that should join the fight. We will wait for the issue to be resolved, but have no intention of wearing the vests. If the NFL persists, we will cover the logos with tape.

The Modesto Bee Even though we do not regularly staff NFL games in Oakland and San Francisco, on general principle we should strongly oppose the NFL’s requirement that photographers wear vests bearing brand advertisements. I agree completely with ASNE’s request that the NFL reconsider this new policy.

The Sacramento Bee We're strongly opposed to the concept, so much so that I doubt we would comply, meaning that we wouldn't wear the vests and then risk expulsion from the game or we might not cover the games photographically. Obviously we are there to gather news, not to be walking billboards for Canon and Reebok. I think we could also try to pressure Canon to pressure the NFL to drop this.

MCT I think it’s an awful idea, but after finding out about it, I learned that photographers for MCT contributor papers and MCT staff photographers themselves have been wearing similar vests at the Kentucky Derby, the Olympics and at NFL games in a few cities for several years. While I would love to oppose this, I think we would also have to oppose the imposition of vests at these other events as well. I don’t know how the folks at Churchill Downs would respond, but I know we would have very little hope of persuading the Olympics organizers to change their minds.


  1. Wall Street would love it if we could get a revenue share out of this.

    I'm kidding.

    Sort of.

  2. Anonymous1:00 PM

    For the papers who don't cover NFL teams, this is an issue you should care about. Count on one thing. The NCAA is waiting, or maybe they won't wait, to see how this plays out.

  3. What appears to be missing is any paper that normally sends photographers to NFL games taking a stand that's most meaningful -- saying their ethics trumps the NFL and other sports, and they won't allow the NFL or others to use its journalists for advertising.