Los Angeles Times Denies Report That It Took Advertising Money In Exchange For Pac-12 Coverage

Los Angeles Times
F AP Images

A report from The Oregonian/OregonLive columnist John Canzano that claims the Los Angeles Times accepted advertising money in exchange for increased coverage of the Pac-12 is being denied by the media company.

The Oregonian report on Thursday claimed the LA Times agreed to accept $100,000 in advertising in exchange for increased conference coverage.

Hillary Manning, the VP of communications at the LA Times, issued a statement from the media company denying the Oregonian story and claiming it was based on “misinformation.”

“The Los Angeles Times did not and does not have a partnership with the Pac-12. An Oregonian story published in January 2019 included an excerpt from a memo to the Pac-12 from their PR agency which stated, incorrectly, that there was a partnership. The story published today has repeated that misinformation.

“In 2018, sales representatives from The Times did have conversations with representatives from the Pac-12 about a sponsorship deal, where revenue was intended to come from brands who were sponsors of the Pac-12. That ultimately did not materialize. Following those discussions, The Times sales staff did make a proposal directly to the Pac-12 that would have included advertising to run adjacent to coverage of the Pac-12.

“However, that proposal was not approved by Times management, given the potential for a perceived conflict of interest. The Times generated no revenue, nor was any payment made to The Times by the Pac-12 or anyone else related to these conversations. It was also made clear to all parties, throughout all discussions, that only the Los Angeles Times newsroom would have control over what the editorial content would be.”

The Oregonian story indicated a young staffer was a key to the alleged manipulation.

“Literally, in a meeting, our communications people were like, ‘Is there anyone we can pay to write positive stories?’” one Pac-12 staff member told the Oregonian’s Canzano.

Once the deal was signed, the Pac-12 head of communications, Andrew Walker, allegedly granted reporter Blake Richardson, a new hire and former intern at the newspaper, more access.

The Oregonian obtained an email from the league to Richardson sent in October 2018 in which they told him, “I can make sure you have all the access and info to become the best Pac-12 reporter out there.”

Walker also suggested Richardson could embed with the Cal men’s basketball team on a season-opening trip to China to face Yale in the Pac-12 China Game. He was also granted special access to the San Francisco headquarters of the Pac-12, and offered audiences with conference Commissioner Larry Scott and Mark Shuken, head of the Pac-12 Networks. It is unclear if any of that happened.

Times staffers allegedly complained about the Pac-12 arrangement, with one filing a protest with human resources over the coverage.

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2020/07/los-angeles-times-took-advertising-money-in-exchange-for-pac-12-coverage-report-1203000509/