In his capacity as a Columnist for California Sports Lawyer®, Founder and Managing Attorney Jeremy Evans has written a column about the changed media and content creation and distribution landscape with the importance of a free press in entertainment, media, sports, and beyond.
You can read the full column below.
Social media has changed the way in which people consume, read, and watch the news. Streaming has changed the way in people view film and television content. Podcasting has led to the distribution of more information and knowledge. Similarly, the business and industries surrounding entertainment, media, and sports has changed with its contracts, trade unions, and best practices.
Arguably, no time in history has there been more information to consume at our collective fingertips with an internet connection. The issue with the aforementioned sentence is that (1) the internet is required for access to the digital library, and (2) possibly having too much information to consume without knowing what to consume. One might call that choice paralysis.
Each individual now has the opportunity with a small budget and internet access to become their own producer and talent. Everyone has a voice should be the beginning of a winning proposition. And it is. However, as much as people desire to be heard and become voices to listen to, people need to make equal efforts and take responsibility for what they consume. Businesses in the media space need to understand this is as well and adapt as is required—delivering only the highest quality news at the highest ethical standards with less regard for views, sales, and advertising.
For example, with news that the Los Angeles Times is laying off 20%+ of its newsroom, it means that there will be no beat writers for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Clippers, and Angels. There was a likely scenario prior to the Times news where there would be more of the Japanese press covering Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto with the Dodgers than American journalists, which is almost certain to happen now that the largest newspaper in Los Angeles is suffering major employee cutbacks. Having the Japanese press is a welcome sight for news, freedom, and business, the question and concern is what this means for the free press in Los Angeles and the United States.
The news outside of California is not much better. Other major newspapers and media outlets are making significant cuts to staff. As The Hollywood Reporter recently mentioned, “It just seems like no one, not the billionaires, not the private equity turnaround experts, not the family legacies, have a sure sense of how to make it work.” There are several reasons and solutions to massive changes to the media.
First, social media and the low cost of distribution (YouTube, Spotify, equipment, and internet access) gives everyone a platform to speak (or at least an opportunity to do so). This is a good thing and should be encouraged. There will be temptation among politicians and government regulators to decrease access through registration or another form, or businesses decreasing access through increased pricing. However, the use of social media means the people do not need to rely on the mainstream media for news.
Second, access to Google and the internet has made everyone an instant expert. Information is great. Research, analytics, data, and most importantly understanding the information and how to apply it is as important. People need to take the personal responsibility to understand what they are reading, who the source is, and what resources were used in creating and disseminating the media. The mainstream media is learning this lesson the hard way by having to lay-off workers in response to its unresponsiveness to changing with the times. The mainstream media would be better off moving to social media and streaming, hiring some of its competitor independent talent, having shorter broadcasts like sports highlights, and getting back to the reporting the news versus reporting ideologies and political opinions. Google and social media have made news media outlets less relevant because information can be obtained in different places that do not require a cable subscription.
Third, the media would be unwise to rely solely on artificial intelligence (“AI”) to collect and report on the news. AI would essentially replace people reporting the news with bots that would report computer and generative AI stories on sports and the like. In this context, AI is much more efficient and cost effective, but is it human, ethical, and good for mankind? Is another fake news dilemma really what the mainstream media needs? People want truth in reporting that builds trust. At this point in time, it is uncertain whether this lesson will ever be learned and the people flocking to independent outlets is proof of the movement.
Fourth, people like choice. It is American as apple pie. The Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our country’s foundational document along with the U.S. Constitution literally encourages choice by pursuing liberty and happiness, which is an invitation to innovate, invent, and create. The entrepreneurial spirit guides the First Amendment to the United States Constitution where it provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” In other words, freedom of the press is foundational and a duty of the people to preserve themselves and though their elected representatives.
ESPN hired Pat McAfee for a reason. A new choice. He was independent and different from other sports analysts. His listeners felt connected to him and felt there was a trust built. Of course, when talent joins a corporate environment there will always be growth challenges. However, the data is pretty clear, more and more political analysts, sports commentators, and average Joe’s and Jill’s like you and me are continuing to move to independent or self-owned platforms to create, distribute, and listen to media.
People like elected politicians need to be renewed in mind from time to time. Media businesses could stand to learn a thing or two about consumer choice, need, and interest and being renewed in mind. Again with change, there are opportunities and challenges.
About Jeremy M. Evans:
Jeremy M. Evans is the Chief Entrepreneur Officer, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clients in contractual, intellectual property, and dealmaking matters. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, California. He can be reached at Jeremy@CSLlegal.com. www.CSLlegal.com.
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