There was a post here based on an Orange County Register newspaper story that quickly spread like fire online. But with the Kings staying in Sacramento, and other developments relating to this story, I’m going to change this to mainly focus on the media.

Here is what happened:

The Orange County Register ran a sensational story that made it appear an attorney for the Sacramento Kings owners showed up at the personal residence of one of the paper’s reporters trying to persuade her to release an audio recording of the Los Angeles Lakers’ coach making comments about the Maloofs.

This was in the midst of the Maloofs deciding whether to stay in Sacramento for the next year or move the team to Anaheim. Kings fan went nuts over the implication that the Maloofs had decided to move the team and were seeking evidence against the league for a potential anti-trust lawsuit in the event the NBA did not approve the move.

Turns out the OC Register story was not quite accurate.

Hearst would have been proud.

Apparently, this was a pleasant, convenient, pre-arranged meeting. No attorney just “showed up” at a reporter’s personal home. There was no attempt to “persuade” the reporter to turn over the tape.

There is more to this story in the comments at the bottom, so make sure you read those. Everyone makes mistakes.

But the OC report was originally no mistake – a personal story about an attorney for the Maloofs that was not just a newspaper story, but came with a bold, boxed, second attention-grabbing headline about the Maloofs sending an attorney to the home of a reporter to “persuade” her to give up a tape.

Lessons to be Learned:

1. Ask an employer or company for documents, tapes, videos, etc., Don’t go behind their back trying to get that from an employee. Certainly don’t “show up” at their personal home. Go to their place of work. Whatever advantage that could be gained from this – always weigh and consider ramifications if your actions are discovered.

2. No matter how friendly the reporter, there is a trust issue. This is a lesson I have learned over the past 20 years in dealing with newspaper, radio, and television reporters. Your goal is not their goal. Your story is not their story. I do not recommend ignoring media requests, but be prepared, have your talking points, and stick to them. Hard. Because if you stray from your talking points you can be sure that is what will be reported, to your embarrassment. At the same time, be cooperative. That can be a difficult balancing act, but is something that must be done.

3. Nothing is “off the record.” Even if a reporter asks for a comment “off the record”, it is extremely dangerous to assume that will occur.

4. If you’re going to use fake names and try to communicate anonymously, be computer savvy or don’t bother. “Patricia” below is apparently a fake name. Unfortunately for this person, unbeknownst to them an early message to the blog showed they were from the law firm. At a minimum, their computer IP address gave away their law firm name.

OC Register Caught Sensationalizing Story About Kings
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3 thoughts on “OC Register Caught Sensationalizing Story About Kings

  • May 3, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Hmmm, this gets more interesting all the time.

    The OC Register has changed at least part of their web page and not indicated on their website what change has been made.

    But, I now have two different versions of the web page in front of me.

    Except for a couple minor and irrelevant edits, here is the change.

    This is what the OC Register reported on April 29th:

    “[A]n attorney representing Joe and Gavin Maloof, showed up at my house to try to persuade me to give her a tape of Jackson making a comment about the Kings’ efforts to relocate.”

    This is what the OC Register changed their story to read on May 3rd:

    “[A]n attorney representing Joe and Gavin Maloof, had an appointment at my house to get a tape of Jackson making a comment about the Kings’ efforts to relocate.”

    Big, big, big difference there. The original story was sensational and quickly made the rounds in Sacramento. The revised story may not have been worth reporting.

    In addition to the heads-up and inside information which may have caused the Register to change their story, “Patricia” from the involved law firm, but using a Yahoo email address, notes a SoCal story that Phil Jackson had to apologize to the Maloofs. Likely, he was fined by the NBA – which could be his 3rd fine in a month or so.

    This hasn’t been reported in Sacramento yet – but Kings fans are too elated right now about the Kings staying to worry about cowbell Phil’s fines.

    Bottom line:

    The OC Register apparently ran a somewhat bogus story, a law firm and its young attorney looked bad as a result and there was a great tumult in Sacramento. The problem for the OC Register is this was not an editor’s mistake. It was not a mistake from an AP story. It was a story written by Janis Carr based on her personal involvement. It was a story about her as much as anything, when she wrote that an attorney “showed up at my house to try to persuade me …”

  • May 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Janice Carr, the reporter, is acquaintances with the Maloofs’ PR consultant who was looking for the tape of Phil Jackson’s statement to hand over to the NBA and the Lakers. Carr said she would be willing to give a copy to the Maloofs and thus scheduled a meeting with the local attorney who lived close by. The original meeting was to occur half way between Brea and Long Beach, but Carr rescheduled and asked the attorney if she could come to her home since it would be more convenient. Upon arrival, Carr stated that she could not hand over the tape because of certain newspaper privileges and the attorney thanked her for her time and left – no persuasion of the sort. Within an hour, the audio was on the internet and the Lakers and the NBA had what they needed to force Phil Jackson to apologize and to assess a fine against him, the original undertaking of the venture.

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