ARCHIVE 3/2/08: What is the Orlando Sentinel’s Deal With WWE?

ARCHIVE 2/29/08: Muchnick to Orlando Sentinel: Here’s the Real WrestleMania Story
May 13, 2009
ARCHIVE 3/3/08: Ambiguity on Jake Roberts and the WWE Hall of Fame
May 13, 2009

The managing editor of the Orlando Sentinel effectively acknowledges that the newspaper has a business relationship with World Wrestling Entertainment during the build-up to WrestleMania 24 in Orlando, though he maintains that the deal does not influence the newspaper’s coverage.

What is the Orlando Sentinel’s Deal With WWE?

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

The managing editor of the Orlando Sentinel effectively acknowledges that the newspaper has a business relationship with World Wrestling Entertainment during the build-up to WrestleMania 24 in Orlando, though he maintains that the deal does not influence the newspaper’s coverage.

For purposes of gauging the breadth of the image-making machinery of WWE, which is both highly profitable and scandal-plagued, the former is key. The latter is just garden-variety corporate denial by the managers of major news organizations that enter into partnerships, both disclosed and undisclosed, with subjects of news coverage.

My exchange today with Mark Russell, the Sentinel’s managing editor, is below. For further background, see “Muchnick to Orlando Sentinel: Here’s the Real WrestleMania Story,” http://muchnick.net/babylon/2008/02/29/muchnick-to-orlando-sentinel-heres-the-real-story/.

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Date: Sun, 2 Mar 2008 09:07:41 -0800 (PST)

From: Irvin Muchnick

Subject: WWE and the Sentinel

To: Mark Russell

CC: Andrea Adelson; Jerry Greene; David Whitley

Mr. Russell:

I note that in Andrea Adelson’s story today, there is a note of skepticism about Floyd Mayweather’s reported $20 million payoff for WrestleMania. Whether or not my February 29 email spurred this, it is a positive development in the Sentinel’s coverage.

In the same email, I mentioned that World Wrestling Entertainment, in the past, has had advertorial arrangements for special coverage of WrestleMania in official-sponsor newspapers in host cities. Does the Sentinel currently have such a deal with WWE? If so, has it been disclosed to your readers?

Thank you.

Irv Muchnick

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Subject: Re: WWE and the Sentinel

Date: Sun, 29 Feb 2008 10:22:43 -0800

From: Mark Russell

To: Irvin Muchnick

CC: Andrea Adelson; Jerry Greene; David Whitley

Mr. Muchnik:

Thanks for your email. It has no bearing on Andrea Adelson’s story.

The Orlando Sentinel has no relationship with Wrestlemania that influences our coverage in the news pages.

Mark Russell

Managing Editor

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Date: Sun, 2 Mar 2008 10:37:16 -0800 (PST)

From: Irvin Muchnick

Subject: Re: WWE and the Sentinel

To: Mark Russell

CC: Andrea Adelson; Jerry Greene; David Whitley

Mr. Russell:

Thank you for your response. Your statement that the newspaper “has no relationship with Wrestlemania that influences our coverage in the news pages” implies that the Sentinel’s parent company indeed has a deal of some sort with World Wrestling Entertainment. Please clarify.

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Subject: Re: WWE and the Sentinel

Date: Sun, 29 Feb 2008 11:01:16 -0800

From: Mark Russell

To: Irvin Muchnick

Actually, I don’t know whether our parent company or any of its affiliates have a relationship with Wrestlemania. We’re in countless advertising deals with all manner of clients. Those deals are struck by the advertising divisions of newspapers and have no connection to coverage.

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Date: Sun, 2 Mar 2008 11:05:23 -0800 (PST)

From: Irvin Muchnick

Subject: Re: WWE and the Sentinel

To: Mark Russell

I disagree with your assessment of the journalistic values projected by failure to make good-faith disclosure of the Sentinel’s relationship with WWE.

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