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Maneuvering Donald Sterling coverage

by on April 28, 2014

Arguably the biggest story in sports currently surrounds the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who TMZ alleged to be the voice delivering a racist rant to his girlfriend, identified as “V. Stiviano.”

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” said the man in the recording in reference to an Instagram picture that showed Stiviano with former Lakers player Magic Johnson. “Do you have to?”

The woman in the recording states she is part black and Mexican. Stiviano’s attorney said she didn’t leak the recording to the media.

In addition to reporting on a silent protest by Clippers players, where they turned pre-game practice jerseys inside out to hide the logo across the chest, the Los Angeles Times reports that Councilman Bernard Parks is drafting a “City Council resolution that will demand an apology to Magic Johnson,” and will “ask local newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, to stop running ads for Sterling ‘that display his commercial real estate empire and his alleged civic activities'”

To what extent is this case similar to the Westboro Baptist Church in “giving the bad guy a platform?”

How would you respond if you were the LA Times to the request to not run ads for Sterling’s real estate empire and his ventures away from basketball and the Clippers?

Where does personal interest or judgement of morality end and journalism ethics begin? Do issues of privacy affect you thinking, especially since it is unclear how the recording was leaked?




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  1. I personally do not think that there are any similarities between the Donald Sterling case and the Westboro Baptist Church case. Unlike the pastor at Westboro who personally sought out newspapers (or whoever would listen) to promote to opinions, Sterling was secretly recorded. If Sterling purposely went around, and publicly wore his racist opinion on his sleeve for attention, and the media constantly reported on it, then I would say that they are giving him a platform to say whatever he wants. But he did not, and this is not the case. A lot of things have been said about this case. Sterling was secretly recorded in his home, and in the state of California, it is illegal to record someone without their knowledge. With that being said, I would still report on this story. I mean, The New York Times and the Washington Post reported on stolen government documents (in the name of holding the government accountable), so by releasing and reporting on Sterling, I am doing the same thing.

  2. I agree with Shawnee, I don’t think that the Donald Sterling case and the Westboro Baptist Church have any similarities. If I am the LA Times I would agree with the request to not run his ads, simply because I wouldn’t want to associate myself with him. Although the conversation was recorded without Sterling’s permission, I would still report on it because it was pretty clear that it was a recording of him. I now know thanks to Shawnee that recording someone unknowingly in California is illegal, but the way I see it, if I’m the LA Times we didn’t get or release the recordings, and if we don’t report on it somebody will. It is definitely news worthy due to Magic Johnson being mentioned and the fact that the Clippers are in the midst of the playoffs, and that to me means it should be reported on, even if it was obtained and released illegally.

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