NBL withholds media credentials for volunteers

The Pick and Roll turns six years old this month. We filled a void in providing a platform for aspiring basketball journalists to cut their teeth, get a foot in the door, and help launch a professional career, not to mention shining a spotlight on the players, teams and competitions that make our sport the success story it is.

It's been a labour of love for both Kein and I, as we both juggle full-time jobs while raising young families. We've had our ups and downs, but the good has always outweighed the bad. Any money that has been made is invested back into the site, and nobody draws any income. Kein and I have never taken a cent. We do this because we love the sport, want it to succeed, and help others achieve their goals.

In that time we have evolved into the most trusted source of information for all things Australian basketball, at home and abroad. From juniors through to the Boomers and Opals, we try to cover it all as the preferred online destination for #AussieHoops.

The Pick and Roll has proven itself across 6 years as being able to nurture the next generation of professional basketball media. Our list of alumni is growing too, it includes Olgun Uluc (Fox Sports Australia), Steve Chalmers (Big V Basketball), Grant Richardson (ex-Basketball Australia), Luke Sicari (NBL), Matt Hickey (Punters.com.au & Odds.com.au), Hayley Wildes (Melbourne United), Warren Yiu (ESPN AU/NZ), Ben Mallis (NBL & AAP), Oliver Kay (Basketball Australia) and Kane Pitman (Basketball Australia, Herald Sun & ESPN AU/NZ).

At a time when basketball continues the battle to gain traction within the mainstream media in a crowded marketplace, The Pick and Roll continues to provide a trusted and reliable source of Australian basketball news.

Our contributors are volunteers. They are often new to the industry looking to obtain real experience, grow their networks and most importantly provide quality reporting on our great sport of basketball. One of the areas we have always been looking to expand on was our coverage of both the NBL and WNBL, and we've readied a growing group of talented writers keen to cover the 2019/20 NBL season, something that's really made us excited for the months ahead.

On Friday, we received news that they were having their media credential applications rejected, the reason quoted being "space restrictions at our venues". This came without any prior warning.

https://twitter.com/kein/status/1172389324928647169

After seeking an explanation from the NBL, General Manager, Media and Communications Nick Johnston outlined the primary reasons for their rejection as being, 1) limited capacity at venues to accommodate a growing media presence, and, 2) media accreditation being for working media only.

When asked to explain the definition of 'working media', Johnston explained that this referred to someone who's paid to cover the game. As The Pick and Roll's writing staff are volunteers, this would therefore exclude them from being provided media access.

This outcome was again confirmed in further correspondence with Johnston, who clarified it was the NBL's current position.

UPDATE: The NBL has since advised that they are now willing to discuss a possible solution, with a meeting likely to occur this week. Stay tuned.

We know that the NBA does not agree with him. We had two of our volunteer contributors based in the USA last season in Ben Mallis (Philadelphia) and Kane Pitman (Milwaukee), both on working visas and season media credentials obtained with the support of The Pick and Roll. Then there is the EuroLeague, for which The Pick and Roll is an official media partner. We also have an excellent working relationship with FIBA, the international governing body of the sport, and often get access to tailored content and exclusive game streams, that are often not offered to other Australian media organisations.

We have talented writers ready to help boost our coverage of the NBL for the coming season, but also help set them up to be able to cover the sport long-term. Providing them with access to games, press conferences and players is an important step in nurturing these future basketball journalists to help promote the sport well into the future.

Our volunteer contributors have talent, and are given an opportunity to voice an opinion and report on the facts. On occasion, we report on perspectives and ask questions that might be uncomfortable to certain organisations, but if it is for the good of the sport and keeps people honest, we will share it.

There is no propaganda, there are no agendas. We are not after a fight, we just want what's right.

The decision by the NBL to not provide our quality volunteer journalists media credentials just because they are not paid, is discrimination. It is also not in the best interests for basketball in this country.

Kein and I will not let this setback stop us from doing what's best for Australian basketball via The Pick and Roll. We have escalated the matter further, and hope that a sensible outcome is achieved from the NBL hierarchy.

The best thing anyone can do right now is support The Pick and Roll through following our social media channels, reading our work on our site, check out our new online store and perhaps buy a Patty Thrills t-shirt or a Jingled hoodie, or even shout the guys a coffee.

Thanks for all your support.

- Damian

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