Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Ethics Corner

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Ethics Corner

Article excerpt

PRESS-BOX BIGOTRY?

Covering New York sports hasn't been all fun and games lately

Mike Freeman, an African-American sports columnist for The New York Times, believes the Big Apple is infested with jealous, sexist, bigoted sportswriters with barely a whisper of talent.

"Sports is the least policed beat in journalism," Freeman said. "We cover up all our problems. We are such hypocrites. We love attacking other people. But we need to fix our own houses. It's a disgrace."

Freeman is convinced white writers see their black colleagues as apologists for black athletes, and he alleges that women are sexually harassed in the press box and often accused of seeking liaisons with the male players they cover.

The big, ugly picture Freeman paints reeks of some truth. Women have a hard time in the male-dominated world of sports, and there aren't nearly enough minorities in sports departments.

Freeman's rage is not new. He took on the New York sports world Oct. 30 on Sportspages.com, where he accused some white journalists of ridiculing his stories for racial reasons and because they were lazy.

But Freeman also has some things to answer for.

In his Internet assault on his colleagues, he relied on anonymous sources, his targets were not given a chance to reply, and he refused to admit to mistakes when there was proof he might have wronged someone.

Freeman's Sportspages.com critique has staying power. Some white writers worry their careers might suffer because they were identified as mean-spirited by a star black columnist of The New York Times. Not to mention what their readers might think.

That was why Steve Ruinsky, sports editor of Melville, N.Y.-based Newsday, and Leon Carter, sports editor of the New York Daily News and chair emeritus of the National Association of Black Journalists sports task force, called and wrote Times Sports Editor Neil Amdur to complain. Amdur argues that the Times should not be connected to Freeman's Web piece. But Freeman was tagged as a Times writer on the site.

Freeman also accused Newsday writer Bob Glauber of making a sexist remark that upset an anonymous woman who turned out to be Judy Battista, a Times writer. "I heard Glauber tell Judy she dressed like a flight attendant," said Freeman.

Battista tells a different story.

"That's not what Bob Glauber said," Battista insisted. "I was wearing a big scarf, and he said, kiddingly, that it looked like an airplane blanket. …

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