“We’d like to wish a happy Fourth of July to all boxing fans, with a reminder that the REAL fireworks will be happening twelve days from now, when Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor square off for the world middleweight title, live on pay-per-view.”
That’s the kind of thing I would likely have written in my early days as a publicity agent for promoters. Sure, it’s a little corny, but there is a part of the media that really eats up that kind of thing, and wants more and more of it. Of course, they’ll eat most anything, if it’s free………
We’re in an age where if you have a computer, a modem, and a copy of Dreamweaver or Microsoft Front Page, you too can be a publisher and get free passes to fights.
Joe Rein described this scenario quite well in his CJ Award-winning story, “What a Tangled Web We Weave,” based on his observations at the Hopkins-Taylor press conference in Los Angeles:
“There was a clear caste system among the media. The beat writers for the dailies were well-groomed and nondescript. The Internet was represented by bloused shirts, sneakers and baseball caps off to one side. They looked pleased to be grazing at the buffet table; eating better than they normally would and getting validated parking.”
That’s funny, and it contains a great deal of truth, too. Honestly, I would have laughed a whole lot harder had I not actually been one of those people way back when. Hey – everybody’s got to start somewhere, right? When I was 20 or 21 years old I was running around, trying to hawk a newsletter, happy as hell to be let into any press conference, and even happier to get press seating at a fight. Would someone like myself, who was without leverage then, have stroked some promoter with a softball interview because I was honored to be sharing the same press table as the guy from Sports Illustrated or the Associated Press? Yeah, I probably would. And I probably did.
Naturally, when you start to mature a little, you’ve got to move to the next level. Some do; some don’t. I like to think I’ve progressed somewhat; after all, those writers from Sports Illustrated and the Associated Press (Pat Putnam and Ed Schuyler, respectively, who still have a lot of creative juice left in them) now spin their magic for me here at The Sweet Science.
But 20 years ago, while I was surveying the chicken wings from some spread at a Miami Beach press conference, there was probably no way to forecast that was ever going to happen.
A word of enlightenment to all promoters, managers, or even fellow members of the media – the “twerp” with no readers who’s slobbering all over himself at the buffet or asking the silly question of someone on the dais might very well be the same guy you’re relying on heavily for an objective opinion a few years from now. So extend as much courtesy as you possibly can.
I know there are promoters who have instituted policies in which they evaluate the “most important” internet outlets and shut everyone else off from media credentials. All I ask is that there is some examination as to which of the online press are in it strictly for the freebies and which are sincere about supplying a product or service for the reader. I say this not because we have that kind of problem at The Sweet Science (fortunately we do not), but because it must not be forgotten that the internet people represent a grassroots interest in the game and many of them will one day become writers with a bigger audience, whether it’s electronically or in print.
Also, when you deny access to someone who’s really working at this thing, and do it out of hand, you’re basically telling them they have no value whatsoever to you. Human nature being what it is, that is usually going to be remembered by anyone with some self-respect, and it will come back to haunt you. And this sport needs all the support it can get. So be courteous, and also be judicious at the same time.