ProFootballTalk reports that an NFL.com story posted Sunday about an internal memo concerning replacement officials that included rules about conflicts of interests no longer appeared on the site Monday. According to PFT, a reference and link to the memo story embedded in a different NFL.com story also was removed.
PFT notes that the disappearing story “calls into question the independence of the league-owned media conglomerate known generally as ‘NFL Media.’” I’m assuming no irony was intended, and this paragraph confirms that PFT is, in fact, dead serious:
In the past, we’ve made casual reference to the reality that NFL.com and NFL Network necessarily operate within an inherent conflict of interest because those media companies primarily if not exclusively cover the very entity that owns them. This is the first tangible example (that we’ve noticed) of the NFL possibly censoring the content on NFL.com or NFL Network.
Eventually the officials memo story re-appeared at NFL.com and an NFL Network spokesman told PFT the disappearance was a technical issue. PFT wasn’t going to be brushed off with that kind of spin, though, pointing out that this doesn’t explain the disappearing link in the other story and promises to get to the bottom of it.
Maybe I shouldn’t make light of this. We do, after all, live in an era in which a large percentage of people seem incapable of independent thought and judgement about the veracity of the information they consume from news media. And I can’t blame PFT for serving up red meat for increasingly conspiracy-minded fans to gnaw.
But here’s a tip for anyone that doesn’t already know: as a general rule, organizations do a terrible job of reporting on stories that can negatively affect their image/bottom lines. So if you actually want independent information about controversies involving those organizations, it’s best to look somewhere other than the information arm of those organizations.