Do you believe in the “sanity clause?”

Groucho: “That’s in every contract, that’s
what you call a sanity clause.”
Chico: “You can’t a fool a me there ain’t no
sanity clause”
— Groucho/Chico
Marx in A Night at the Opera (movie)

The Southeastern Conferencde issued a revised Media Credental Policy on Thursday that comes a lot closer to being acceptable.

Writing on the Associated Press Sports Editors’ Web site, John Cherwa, chair of the organization’s legal affairs committee, said: “The
Southeastern Conference (SEC), upon the urging of ASNE, APME and APSE,
has significantly revised its sports credential policy in several
areas. It will now be up to individual members to decide if the changes
are enough to warrant the signing of the credential.”

Michael Silence is rounding up the react:

Credential Crud continues; victims fighting back

The Associated Press and Gannett say their reporters will not sign the new Southeastern Conference Media Credential Policy.

“The credential restrictions would be untenable,” said Mark Silverman, editor of
the Tennessean, which covers the SEC’s University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt
University. “They fail to recognize that we are not just a newspaper. We use a
variety of mediums and I believe we are going to be able to make a prior
restraint argument.”

— AP.

The News Sentinel, a part of the E.W. Scripps company, has also decided not to sign the agreement as is.

SEC Media Policy = #FAIL

Several media-related groups have signed a joint letter protesting the Southeastern Conference’s new  Media Credential Policy.

From the letter:

We understand that media coverage of sports is changing. New media and channels for disseminating information, including ownership of distribution channels by leagues or teams themselves, require adjustments to the league/team/media partnerships that have existed for years. But the new credentials go beyond “adjustments”; they are wholesale changes that restrain our members from covering your teams in ways that serve fans without harming league interests.

Many of these changes may also violate existing law, which, in most instances, has not changed despite the advent of new media. We further believe that the real loser in this fight will   be the fans, who have every reason to be wary of the SEC’s actions in consolidating what can only be described as a “stranglehold” over the release of information about teams, players and games.

See the full letter and coverage.

Lean and mean, newspapers now positioned to rebuild

Recommended listening.  “Fresh Air” interview with Alex S. Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and part of a fourth generation family-owned media company based in the upper East Tennessee town of Greeneville that owns newspapers, radio stations and other media products.

Probably most newspapers in this country are making a profit now, a modest operating profit. …  If the economy improves and if some resources come flowing back along with some advertising, they  are going to be in a position to rebuild, rebuild both in terms of their journalistic muscle and on their digital side. And I think that is going to be essential if they are going to survive.

– Alex S. Jones

The Tennessee journalist, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, has a new book coming out, “Losing the News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracy (Institutions of American Democracy)

He talks about the family business, including pressures on his family to sell the business when newspapers values were at their peak, the general state of the news business and what is happening to journalism.

One interesting note: As part owner of a small town papers, Jones says he doesn’t buy the journalism trend toward “hyperlocal content.” He says readers want serious news.

There’s a lot of good insights about the newspaper business and journalism in this audio interview.