The NBA, the body which operates professional basketball in North America, which in 2014-2015 made a record profit of £3.6 billion, and where even an “average” franchise is worth an estimated $1.25billion, has just signed an exclusive rights deal with a British media company which offers journalists as little as £6 an article.
The Kingsway-based company’s press release trumpeting the agreement promises users “regular interviews with players, legends and senior officials” that will “lead to an experience never before see [sic] on these shores.”
The same release also invites budding journalists to join the company’s “Writing Academy” giving “three great reasons” to do so. These include getting your work published, winning “prizes and rewards”, and earning “achievement badges”.
However, some journalists who have contacted the company have complained to the SJA that rates of pay offered for their work are extremely low – or non-existent.
One journalist the company tried to recruit was told to expect a weekly email to contributors, arriving at 6pm every Friday, with a list of articles which GMS would like to have written, with a deadline and word count, for the following week.
These articles would be “available on a first come/first served basis” but the company warns that if their subbing team decide an article is not of “sufficient quality”, it will be rejected, “and you will not receive payment”.
One correspondent to the SJA today told of having an article rejected, returned with a B+ grading, as if a piece of homework.
GMS appears to revel in being described as “the Huffington Post of sports”, a reference to the online news site, based in the US and in London, which itself has attracted controversy over its policy on paying for its content.
“This deal highlights the calibre of partner we are looking to work with, and we’re excited to bring the NBA directly to the British sports fan,” said GMS CEO Nick Thain at the launch last month.
“For GiveMeSport, the NBA makes a lot of sense, as 50 per cent of our 25 million fans on Facebook like the NBA, teams, current players or NBA legends.”
GMS sought to clarify their £6 per article offer – they claim no one has ever actually been paid that amount, but it is the amount offered for published articles during a “trial period”.
GMS has already received a string of adverse comments from users pointing out errors in content, complaining about outdated material, and the fact that, contrary to Thain’s remarks, they are now interrupted when they seek direct access to the NBA’s own website.
On the official announcement post on the site, there are a string of expletive-laden comments, while other users criticised GMS on Twitter over the company’s lack of a track record of covering basketball in Britain.
Steven Downes, the Secretary of the SJA, said, “This seems another sad reflection of the direction some are trying to take the business of sports journalism. I’m quite sure that most of our members, who are experienced sports journalists, will see through the terms being offered, and we’d advise anyone to consider carefully whether they are being offered an acceptable fee for their work and expertise.”
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