Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Allegations and Things Left Unsaid: The Orioles, WNST, Nestor Aparicio and Press Access

I didn’t get wind of this until recently, but I want to thank Mini-Me of the WBRS Sports Blog for the tip.

Well, apparently, WNST, two personalities from a local sports talk radio was denied press credentials for the Opening Day events at Camden Yards yesterday.

The proprietor of WNST & sports talk radio personality, Nestor Aparicio, along with Drew Forrester, another host on the station, had been denied press credentials.

If you happen to not to know the name Nestor Aparicio, he spearheaded a fan protest last year at Camden Yards which had 2,000 participants.

Nestor strongly believes that Peter Angelos has an axe to grind to with him. The radio station put out a press release yesterday about the situation, and this what he said:

"It's just amazing that every single year, when you think it can't get any worse, it does," Aparicio said in a blog on his website, www.wnst.net. "Are they honestly trying to say that we're not a legitimate media entity, after we've covered every major sporting event in this country for 15 years? Is it a personal attack? Is it an attempt to punish us for being honest in our assessment of the Orioles franchise? I really don't know. But one of our chief complaints as an organization and as fans -- and every employee in my company grew up an Orioles fan -- has been the lack of professionalism and accountability from Peter Angelos and his franchise. This is a prime example.

"Their first home game is hours away and the only communication we've received from the Orioles is that our credential application is 'being reviewed.' "


"I would hate to think that Mr. Angelos would want to suppress free speech or punish true Orioles fans like myself and my staff at WNST," Aparicio said. "I have loved the Orioles for 38 years and I have 23 years of being honest and accountable in the media. My track record speaks for itself. To deny WNST or any specific person on our staff a press credential is wrong. To repress free speech is wrong."

"We are strongly considering legal action”.

Well, needless to say, the Orioles perhaps are taking a hard line to those who might be overly critical to their organization.

Rick Maese of the Baltimore Sun has more on the issue here…

Much like the Redskins and other teams sports, the Orioles are now in more control of their content and who has access to them thanks to the new TV and radio deal.

Here some text from the Baltimore Sun’s Rick Mease:

“The whole idea of the media is to fairly and accurately report on a team,” Aparicio says, “Not necessarily in a positive fashion but in an honest fashion. I’ve always been honest about my assessment on the Orioles. I think most of Baltimore feels the way I feel -- the frustration, the anger.”

Aparicio called it “disgusting” and “sad." If his suspicions are confirmed, it'd be hard to disagree. I’m going to reserve my opinion until more facts are gathered, but I can tell you that it’s already clear that the rules are different this year with a new flagship radio and TV station in place. And sports teams in all leagues are suddenly taking ownership of delivering the news -- whether it's through their own regional sports network, an active web site or email newsletters. It’s definitely a trend for teams to skip over traditional media outlets to reach their fans.

Here’s how Aparicio characterizes it: “That’s what MASN and CBS Radio were all about -- all about suppressing free speech,” he says. “The issue isn’t Nestor, WNST or Angelos. It’s about them having the ability to decide who’s media and who isn’t media.”

Well, I am going to give my take from at least what I can ascertain from actually being at the protest game myself with my friend watching the game from the lower level and also media reports.

I really do not listen to WNST since I am out of their listening area, but from hearing some of their streaming broadcasts, I like their station and they are extremely knowledgeable about Baltimore sports. As well, I also didn’t become familiar with Nestor Aparicio before the event itself, but reading some of what he had to say, I no doubt question his passion for Baltimore sports and especially the Orioles, since he had a relative who played for the team.

However, I can understand as Nestor being both a fan and part of the media, his right to criticize and report is what going on, in addition to throw some of his commentary about the organization into the fold. Some of his protest the events leading up to it was some self promotion, but from what I gathered from it all, he does really love the team.

Concerning the event, I was at the game and saw everything from start to finish, and in addition I sat up in the upper deck for an inning or two and talked to some fans.

Trust me, I understand where the protest was coming from – simply, everyone wants to see a winner, and right now the Baltimore Orioles are the laughing stock of the media, as the organization has endured 9 losing seasons and questions about the ownership.

From what I see, a fellow who was supposed to report the news is the story himself, and when that happens - problems arise.

Although I agree with the premise of the protest, I don’t think it was right to stage a walk-out of a game. In addition, it does not help to anger the owner of an organization. From what I remember, the Baltimore Orioles are a private enterprise, so pretty they can allow or restrict media access as they seem fit.

In light of it all, I can also see where the Orioles are coming from. As an employee in corporate America, everything comes down to image and the team wants to protect it.

The Orioles want those in my eyes who put the organization in a good light, whether the coverage might be accurate, or the truth is stretched.

However, I do see that the Orioles do seem to seem to harbor a lot of anger from the protest, and the reaction of Peter Angelos to it shows a lot of anger and resentment towards WNST and Nestor Aparcio.

I see a lot of anger & resentment from both sides, and maybe some day, it could be worked out.


Mini Me said...

I agree with most of what you say. The bottom line is that if Angelos puts a winning product on the field (how about spending some money on quality pitching for a change) fans and media will not protest, let alone criticize.

In a day in which the media and media members are becoming much more subjective and opinionated, I don't think leading a protest is so over-the-top that Aparicio should be blackballed from receiving press credentials.

In the end, the longer the Orioles put a poor product on the field, the more the media will criticize and turn on the organization and the owner. So Angelos better start spending money quickly. Or protests won't become an aberration, but the norm.

Maryland Orioles' Fan said...

Agreed Mini-Me.

Well, I still believe that you cannot report on an organization and then protest it, and then request access.

You are right one thing -- the criticism of the Orioles will stop if they start winning.

fortytwo said...

This is what kills me about the whole thing.

Over at the hangout there are more than a couple guys that get creds. And they have basically said that WNST's creds were sitting there, waiting to be picked up like everyone else's.

This was all a giant publicity stunt for Nestor. His cronies were all around the stadium telling fans they were "banned from the park" and various other exaggerations and half truths.

This guy has twisted the truth so much in this situation and he wants to be treated as a JOURNALIST?!?

That is the most hysterical thing.

Maryland Orioles' Fan said...

Forty-Two, thanks! As I thought about it more, something was not adding up in this whole thing. I took a look at OH and saw that WNST might have had credentials after all.

If what the guys at OH are saying is indeed true (knowing a few guys from there, they have no reason to lie), then, this whole thing by WNST is a farce.

I just posted on it because it was in the Baltimore Sun.

Guess you cannot take anything at face value...

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