By Evan Weiner
The financial state of both the newspaper and radio industries is not good. But the NBA wants journalists to pay a big price to report on life inside of the National Basketball Association’s bubble on the Walt Disney World grounds near Orlando, Florida.
The NBA will bill newspapers or cable TV outlets $550 a day to house reporters. Only 10 national newspaper writers or cable TV “insiders” will be allowed inside the bubble which gives the reporters access to players, coaches and general managers, along with league brass. The $550 per day charge will include a hotel room, daily COVID-19 testing, three meals a day and transportation within the bubble to the arenas that house games.
Group 1 reporters will live the bubble life. Newspapers that still have beat reporters who normally cover the NBA will pay for flights, hotels and meals for those reporters. But not many newspapers can afford a weekly expense of $3,850 a week to cover the NBA. The assigned reporters have to self-quarantine at home for seven days and then self-quarantine for another seven days once they arrive at the Disney World bubble. The reporters can be there for 10 weeks; a $55,000 bill for media outlets is possible. There will be a Group 2 division of reporters who will be able to watch the bubble games but have no access to the performers.
Struggling newspaper owners were not able to get Payroll Protection Plan stimulus help for various reasons. Newspaper chains that employ more than 1,000 people were ineligible. The Seattle Times and the Tampa Bay Times did get loans. Newspapers, internet platforms, TV and radio stations don’t need to provide free publicity for the NBA. The NBA can always defend its policy by pointing out there is a pandemic. But why is the league playing near Orlando, a COVID-19 hotspot?