In a word…”Independence“.
Just yesterday morning Mike Vukovcan of the Pittsburgh Sports Now website and blog announced to the public his resignation from KDKA-TV. Here’s the pertinent bits:
For years, I’ve battled management regarding running my own website. Twice, I was forced to take my sites down because I was told it was a conflict of interest. Take it down or lose my job. It was also a reason at one time, I had an alias Twitter name while writing for another site. No association with the site or lose my job.
A year ago, KDKA management allowed me to start Pittsburgh Sports Now but I wasn’t permitted to profit from it, work on it while at the station and all major news had to go to the stations site first.
He then writes:
All those have come into question recently and when Pittsburgh Sports Now broke the Scott Barnes story, I found myself in trouble with management.
Within the last couple of weeks, I was called into a meeting and given the ultimatum of keeping my job and taking down the site or getting fired. That brings me to my decision today to resign.
We’ll get into his personal details in a bit but I want to take a minute and tell you why I think this is such big news and why it doesn’t just effect Vukovcan only.
Ever since I had been writing for the Pitt Blather starting six years ago, straight on through starting my own blog and now today, I have been explaining to readers just what my role in the world of sports media is and how it differs from the work the beat writers from the papers and recruiting sites do. The Tribune-Review’s Jerry DiPaola and some recruiting sites’ writers for example…. and let me say up front that I have a ton of respect for all those guys.
But they have Masters just as Mike Vukovcan did. Now, in a sense, he’s shed that Overseer of his work and gone out on his own (albeit with staff and advertisers) like some others of us Pitt football bloggers have done.
However, the difference between the two venues, let’s say associated and non-associated, boils down to this – I can say anything I want to about Pitt sports issues as long as I don’t libel anyone and, most importantly, feels that I have personal justification to do so.
That means I make have to ensure I state facts as such and that I state opinions as such and make sure you know the difference when you are reading my articles. You’ll notice I say “I think” or “I believe” or “It may be…” many times when I am saying something that isn’t verified by facts or by background discussions that I trust are true.
In a nut shell those phrases signal my opinions on something are to follow.
As long as I do that I can go out to the edge if I feel it is supporting the article’s main subject and is warranted. On the other hand I can write nothing but factual and statistical content to show clear supporting information. As long as I know that you as the reader is aware of my intent then I’ll do it.
Mike Vukovcan obviously didn’t have that option at KDKA so he’s now split from that Big Media entity. Good for him to do so.
That said our two blogs will always differ in that as long as a site takes specific advertisers or ‘sponsors’ there is always a set of eyes on what is being passed to the public – that isn’t a bad thing and I can see doing that as long as the owner of the site has to make a living from it.
With a wife and 3 kids, this is definitely a risk but I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t believe in what we’ve started at Pittsburgh Sports Now. The growth of the site in the last year strengthened my belief that I can make this a successful full time venture. With colleagues like Harry, Alan, Rich, Francis, Dave and Joe Steigerwald, I’m very excited about 2017 and beyond.
Now it’s all about putting out good daily content, adding features to the site and selling advertising and taking in money. I’ll be on the phone looking for new advertisers here at PSN but if you know if anyone that might be interested, feel free to contact me through direct message.
Here at The Pitt POV that isn’t the case as I’m retired and this is a total not for profit endeavour which ensures 100% freedom in my approach to the issues being discussed. Again the only possible downside to being opinionated is 1) libel issues (which I never come close to) or losing my Pitt Media Credentials which won’t happen as long as I’m a square shooter in what I write.
Because believe it or not the Pitt Media department actually encourages differences of opinion as long as they are genuine. I’ve never felt anything but 100% welcome by them when I’m at the practices, scrimmages, games or events.
That isn’t always the case in this ‘business’ though.
The night before the Pinstripe Bowl I was approached by a woman who I didn’t know and who had a few drinks in her. She stood in front of me and berated me and anyone who blogs because it wasn’t “true journalism”. I listened for about 30 seconds before I interrupted her and asked how she knew who I was.
Well of course it was because she reads my blog on a semi-regular basis and recognized my photo from the website. I told her that hypocrisy bored me and that if she really believed what some ‘journalists’ write to be 100% factual – especially in the case of what we had just seen on the national stage during the recent elections – then she was an idiot.
Because there is a big difference between blogging and other aspects of public writing. I don’t speak for Mike but I’ll bet he’s about to let his hair down and be more open in his take on things.
One of the reasons to do so is that it draws the readers into discussions about the subject via the comments section. Look at the newspapers articles and editorials and see how many comments are on those articles – practically none. Then look at the comment numbers we generate here on the Pitt POV and other sites like the Pitt Blather. The POV alone averages over 100 comments per posting and it is good, solid conversation.
That’s the real joy of blogging. It isn’t money revenue or click numbers – it is giving others a place to read and discuss subjects in-depth and also make friends doing it. I can tell you first hand how satisfying that is.
So I think Mike Vukovcan gets it and has done the exact right thing on some different levels. One is the obvious – personal integrity in his role as a writer and how he interacts with his readers.
The second may be just as important – he’s taking a big risk that may affect his financial situation and impact his family, but he’s doing it so that no matter what happens in the future they can be as proud of him because he took the risk he felt was absolutely necessary to be a better person all-around.
Congrats to you Mike and best of luck with this new chapter in your life. Now you can really say what you think and that’s fun as hell.
EDIT: I corrected some info regarding Chris Peak in the article. Here is what he passed on after reading the article:
“In the interest of accuracy, I don’t really have a “master,” per se. As publisher of the site, I am in control of and responsible for what goes on there. Self-employed, so to speak.