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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: MAKING THE DAZN/MEDIA ARTICLE & THE SILENCE OF COLLEAGUES

By Paul Magno | November 19, 2019
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: MAKING THE DAZN/MEDIA ARTICLE & THE SILENCE OF COLLEAGUES

Welcome to a special Tuesday edition of Notes from the Boxing Underground. Next week, we return to our usual Monday slot.

How do you tell a story that needs to be told when nobody—not even your allies—wants to go on the record? 

That’s the problem I faced when I set out to write yesterday’s piece on DAZN’s apparent attempt to buy off much of the boxing media. 

The stories were plentiful in the boxing media back channels. DAZN is flying media out to cover events. They’re sponsoring posts on supposedly independent boxing sites, paying for social media shares, making site owners partners in generating subscriptions. Rumors were flying that they even bought their way into editorial say-so over at “The Bible of Boxing,” Ring Magazine (and its website, RingTV). The buzz and rumors were strong and from some usually pretty reliable insiders. Read the story here, if you haven’t already: DAZN: Buying The Boxing Media

It’s a pretty important story and, I’m ashamed to say, one I put off reporting on for way too long. 

You have to understand; I’ve gone down this path before. I used to report on media matters fairly frequently, detailing the favors and kickbacks certain media members get from promoters and networks trying to curry favor with them. 

Things always ended the same way. I got nothing but vicious attacks from my media “colleagues” and widespread attempts to not only discredit me, but to starve me out of the business. The last time I was looking for a job, I got several “You’re a phenomenal writer, Paul, but I can’t hire you because you reported on so-and-so’s [insert shady deal here]” from editors. I was told in no uncertain terms that I had made too many powerful enemies to be someone they could hire, no matter how much they wanted to. 

Many readers, meanwhile, couldn’t have cared less about what I reported or how it absolutely affected the sport, its fans, and its athletes. They’ve been so beaten up and disappointed en masse that they’ve come to expect shady dealings as part of the sport and its media. “It’s boxing,” they’ll say while shrugging off whatever nastiness put before them. They’ve come to expect the absolute worst in everything related to the sport and meet escalating bullshit with quiet resignation. Bullshit is supposed to happen in boxing…because…it’s boxing. 

So, why did I dive back into the murky waters for something that’s going to bring me grief, burn some professional bridges, and bring mixed-results, at best, among readers? Call me a glutton for punishment. Or, maybe, I just can’t stop this nagging thing in the back of my head called a conscience. 

At any rate, I eventually got it in my head to report on this DAZN stuff and went about contacting people who were either part of the story or could provide some info for the story.

Not surprisingly, nobody wanted to talk at first. Some of those mentioned DID, however, send my FightHype bossman, Ben Thompson, a nasty message or two. 

Scott Christ of BadLeftHook.com, one of those sites with DAZN affiliate links in them, got back to me and was the straight-up guy I know him to be. I also heard back from one weepy site owner, who preferred to not be included in the article because it seemed “intended to be harmful” or “one-sided.” 

Well, fuck, the article would only come off as one-sided if one of the sides refuses to cooperate.

Of those who did respond, their anger was not focused on what I was bringing up, but, rather, the fact that I was bringing these things up at all. How dare I step on their toes while they were making their totally unethical deals? 

Many of the media people, however, were above it all and wouldn’t even bother to acknowledge me. That’s certainly no surprise. The arrogance is extreme among those who feel they are big shots. They are answerable to nobody and nothing—and that’s why they feel like they can do whatever the hell they feel like. 

Some major players and distinguished members of the industry were generous with their time and spoke to me about the issues I was raising. Most preferred to remain off the record because, unlike yours truly, they were smart enough not to fire bomb bridges in the industry and attach their names to the firebombing. 

I also contacted the DAZN folks and connected with a communications and public relations person, who didn’t really want to answer my direct questions and preferred to have a phone chat to put things into “context.” When I stated that I’d really, really like to have these things in writing to prevent any sort of misreporting (from either side), I was met with a curt ‘I don’t know you or have any sort of relationship with you at all’-type response, which did kind of piss me off (and, actually, fed into the storyline that DAZN prefers to keep their media relations among friends). 

I did, finally, get a quarter-line response to my questions from the DAZN guy and a promise to build a relationship which, I guess, should make me all butterflies and unicorns inside. 

My article wasn’t intended to be a hit piece about DAZN. Bartering for and flat-out buying media love is what’s to be expected from them. DAZN is a business that aims to get the word out about their product, have it portrayed in a positive light, and generate subscriptions. If they have to “invest” in compliant media voices in order to do that, well, all is fair in love and business. 

The ones at fault are the media members who jump at the money and the quid pro quo arrangements-- those who feel they don’t have to answer to anyone and feel entitled to bag whatever bounty they can, however they can, no matter how many ethical boundaries they cross …because this is “just boxing” and “nobody cares, anyway.” 

And if none of the big shots wants to talk about this stuff, a nobody like me has to. Somebody has to, right?

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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