Michael Hiltzik

Dodgers PR boss explains how he prefers to 'spin' team news

Dodgers Public Relations Director Joe Jareck, perhaps figuring that Australia is far enough from home for him to speak freely, may have gotten a little bit too candid about the team's news-managing techniques Wednesday.

Addressing an audience in Sydney, where the Dodgers will play an exhibition game Thursday, Jareck said this about how the team prefers to get its news out: best to publish on its own website, Dodgers.com, because then "we can spin it any way we want. You can tell the (in-house) writer, 'Here do this' and they’ll do it."

Fans might keep that in mind when they pick up their news flashes on Dodgers.com.

Jareck also took what sounded to be a couple of swipes at outside media, such as the Los Angeles Times. 

"I’m of the belief we should give everything to Dodgers.com — there are more eyeballs there. Gone are the days when The Los Angeles Times ruled the city." He continued, "Very few [media] have that kind of influence anymore. So I’m of the view of giving it to our own website which is double or triple what the readership of the Los Angeles Times is in print and online."

Actually in sheer numbers, latimes.com appears to swamp Dodgers.com, which is part of the league's Mlb.com website. But let it go. 

Jareck's remarks were published by Mumbrella, an Australian media and marketing site. They were made at CommsCon, a Sydney PR conference at which he was the keynote speaker. 

When we reached Jareck in Australia, he explained that he was talking mostly about team news of the sort that wouldn't much interest outside media, and therefore would get better play on Dodgers.com. But he acknowledged that he also had in mind such items as trades and other transactions, some of which certainly would get good play on outside website--and some of which fans might want to read about absent the team's spin. 

Think of it this way: If Andre Ethier gets traded, do you want to hear about it straight, or spoon-fed with the team's slant on Dodgers.com?

As for instructing the Dodgers.com writer "here do this," Jareck assured us he wasn't referring to Ken Gurnick, the Dodgers beat reporter for Mlb.com. Gurnick's articles run on the Dodgers website with the legend, "This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."

Gurnick, who is an employee of the league, not the team, told us from Sydney that we'd have to get comment from his editor, Bill Hill. We haven't heard back from Hill, but it was late at night when we emailed him for a comment. 

Jareck made no apologies for distributing team news primarily through its own outlets: "When we have our own news to break, I think it should come from Dodgers.com," he told us. He noted that the team also sponsors its own blog, Dodgerthoughts.com, and directly employs that site's blogger, Jon Weisman. 

The practice of commercial entities employing their own "news" reporters has been spreading for some time, and news consumers need to take note. This is quite a few steps beyond the traditional publicity machines employed by big companies, sports teams, and other businesses, which have always been devoted manifestly to serving their employers.

"News" websites like Dodgers.com aim to look like something different. They aim to present themselves as consumer services, with the consumers' interests placed foremost. This always has been a scam, and in the fragmenting world of news and information, the scam is becoming easier to perpetrate. Jareck has pulled aside the curtain a little bit, and that's a service--even if he thought he was doing it out of earshot of the hometown fans. 

Reach me at @hiltzikm on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or by email. MORE FROM MICHAEL HILTZIK

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