twitter google

Random Rant: To Buy or not to Buy?

I have a major question of journalistic ethics that I thought I might run by everyone.

Both the IFL and Pro Elite are publicly traded companies. While both have shown heavy losses this year their stocks have bottomed out and can be acquired at a very low price. Not that I have the money for it, but I’ve been kicking around the idea of maybe buying a few shares of each for shits and giggles.

There’s one problem though. And that is that I cover both promotions for a living. It’s the type of conundrum that journalists covering other genres have to deal with.

For example, a CNBC on-air employee usually has to disclose their holdings. Also, many news organizations request that their political correspondents abstain from voting (although this practice has been dying a slow death for years).

So my question is, should someone who covers MMA have to disclose whether they own stock in a company they are covering? If I were to buy stock in the IFL or Pro Elite, I can promise you I wouldn’t let if effect my objectivity.

However, those are only words and unless you really know me, I wouldn’t expect anyone to put stock (pun half-intended) into those comments. I just read today that the Wall Street Journal is claiming that if Rupert Murdoch becomes their new owner they won’t let it affect their coverage.

Riiight!

My point is, I understand if nobody would want to take my word for it because in the same situations, I usually don’t take anyone’s word for it.

And while I wouldn’t let it affect my objectivity, it still appears as a conflict of interest on the surface and I know anytime I’d write something good about either company that it would open a can of worms.

So perhaps MMA reporters shouldn’t invest in MMA-related stocks at all?

I wanted to get your thoughts. Here are the options (leave your responses in the comments area):

A) Dude, there are millions of other stocks to buy. Pick something else and leave the two MMA stocks alone because MMA journalists shouldn’t have a financial stake in a company.

B) Buy some stock if you want, but just disclose that you own stock in a company when you report on it.

C) Why are you even bringing this up? What you do on your own time is your own business.

14 COMMENTS
  • says:

    Personally, I’m all about the complete objectivity of the press so would feel it inappropriate to invest in anything I would be expected to report on.

    Even though I doubt it would affect anything you wrote, especially with the minimal numbers of shares you would own, but it’still a conflict of interests as far as I am concerned.

    Like the blog, keep up the good work.

  • says:

    I have to go with A maybe B. Eventually you will be seen as pimping a product. A walking, typing, commercial. I couldn’t take it serious.

  • says:

    If it were something like five shares of each, and you maybe put a small blurb in yer … WordPress makes yer byline here, so … afterword (I guess?) it would be fine. So whenever you’re reporting on how much its bottomed out, or that it’s worth millions because Brandon Lee came back to feud with his cyborg alternate timeline father, using JKD/MMA and Ha-Do-Kens, you can just mention that you happen to be the owner of a trivial amount of shares in the league that blew up the moon with GnP.

    Just my opinion.

  • says:

    Lots of people believe MMA is going to get huge, myself included. Currently you’re building a name for yourself by creating articles for CBS, popping up on multiple radio shows, creating a radio show of your own and writing this blog (that’s what i’m aware of) so why risk it? The main point of the investment is to make money. You’ll be able to make far more money investing in your own company — especially if you believe MMA is going to become huge.

  • says:

    It basically depends on what kind of journalism you want to do. Do you want to be independant, only answerable to the editor, using general journalistic principle as a guide, or do you want to include other stuff? You’d have to answer to other than your conscience if you have a financial stake. The guys on UFC.com write great stories, and they have a financial stake for sure. They cannot be objective all that often. But does that make the stories less enjoyable or sometimes challenging? hmm… a little. But they still get read.
    On the other hand, being in a position to own stock and publicly flog it (with disclosures et cetera) is a pretty sweet spot to be in. Frankly, that’s what EVERY SINGLE MEDIA FIGURE in this country does anyways, why should they be the only ones on the train?
    Just be sure you let your loyal commenters know so we can get in on the ground floor.

  • says:

    “You’ll be able to make far more money investing in your own company — especially if you believe MMA is going to become huge.”

    If that’s the case and MMA does go insanely huge, how would he make more money by writing about the sport than by investing in it?

  • says:

    Defintely: C) Why are you even bringing this up? What you do on your own time is your own business.

    You’re reporting on fights and fighters… not posing as an unbiased expert advising other potential investors where to put their money… so IMO, there’s nothing unethical about not disclosing your portfolio if your reports include companies you invest in. Your reporting will continue to speak for itself. Keep up the objective, interesting, and informative articles, and you’ll maintain your readership. Become a shill or a lackey for any company, and it will be obvious to readers, and evident in the lack of hits on your webpage.

    Good luck, bro.
    -Merkin

  • says:

    (C)

    Do what you want, its your blog, we will be able to tell if you buy the stocks or not. 😉

  • says:

    For the fiveouncesofpain.com site, the first sentence of your sites header says it all “your one stop shop for MMA news and COMMENTARY”.

    I don’t come here for ‘pure’ news – I come for a different angle on things and don’t expect complete objectivity.

    Admittedly, there will come a time when you are talking to yourself and asking whether or not you should publish a story about UFC vice IFL because you don’t want to look like you’re a sellout, but once you have that conversation, you’ve already lost your objectivity.

    I completely agree with Merkin above, and offer you some sage advice from the great Neil Peart…

    All this machinery making modern music
    Can still be open hearted
    Not so coldly charted
    It’s really just a question of your honesty, yeah, your honesty

    Yeah – we’re not talking about music, but work with me. 😀

  • says:

    B) Buy some stock if you want, but just disclose that you own stock in a company when you report on it.

    Do it Sam…esp if it’s cheap…Elite is going to make a run and the IFL looked good the other night..who knows? It could be a good investment in the end…

  • says:

    > If that’s the case and MMA does go insanely huge, how would he
    > make more money by writing about the sport than by investing in it?

    I’m suggesting he’ll want to invest the majority of his money in his own company. Why run the risk of conflict of interest issues? If he joins a specific company and gain shares that’s different. As it sits now he has the potential of creating greater equity with his own company than investing in others — he has 100% (i assume) and more important he has complete control over the shares.
    -steve

  • says:

    […] Caplan asks an ethical question to the MMA […]

  • says:

    If all you had was this blog, then it would be C, without a doubt. But considering your regular contributions to various publications, it is definitely A. This has been a huge issue I have had with ESPN over the years. Once the NHL was no longer aired on ESPN, it almost disappeared from their coverage. Now, we deal with NASCAR and Arena Football all the time from that crap network, solely because of their vested interest in both companies.

  • says:

    SSPE – Art Of War is also a public company

LEAVE A COMMENT!

You must be logged in to post a comment.