The Hartford Courant will publish celeb blogger Alysa Auriemma’s monthly posts, but in an about-face clarified her role and won’t be paying her to play.
A day before the papers editors’ publicized their ruling, imediaethics.org caught up with Alysa Auriemma over the phone while she was packing to leave the starving artist lifestyle in Gotham. She candidly spoke about the job description as The Courant’s celebrity blogger covering the 2008 Champion NCAA Lady Huskies, dad/Coach Geno’s influence over her posts, what is fair and unfair game to write about.
Coach’s daughter blogger to start por gratis
Sports Editor Jeff Otterbein reported The Courant’s position in favor of keeping Auriemma’s daughter on board.
“Alysa Auriemma, daughter of UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, will continue to offer her insights as a celebrity blogger once a month on John Altavilla’s blog.”
He said that the paper erred in stating that Auriemma’s duties would be to cover the team.
“The next day, in a note to its readers, The Courant clarified her role as a monthly celebrity blogger,” he wrote.
And based on meetings and reader commentary (which allegedly sided with keeping Alysa Auriemma on by a 2-1 margin), the wait was over. However, the editor said the paper will remove Auriemma from its payroll, reducing her function at the paper from paid celebrity blogger to celebrity volunteer: “Going forward we will not pay her a fee (she was paid for the July and August posts) to avoid any appearance of impropriety.”
Set record straight
The determined daughter of Coach Geno Auriemma defied her dad’s suggestions to not talk about the controversy in which she’s embroiled. “My dad said that you shouldn’t talk about it anymore,” she said. “So far for the last week I did not talk about anything to do with The Courant.” But Alysa Auriemma broke her silence with imediaethicsin an exclusive interview.
The 23-year-old denies what many were arguing was a tactical quid pro quo. “So many people were saying, ‘He’s [Coach Geno Auriemma] basically using me as a pawn to get to The Courant. It sucks and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Still, because the paper’s recent ethical miscarriages (e.g., the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Ethics Committee ruled that The Courant plagiarized regularly), recruiting the coach’s daughter to file stories for the paper drew off-the-charts pessimism. “With this whole thing I have just kind of realized how big it got,” said Auriemma. “I realized how many people are reading this story. I realized my name is in The [Boston] Globe and The New York Times.”
One thing is for certain: daughter Auriemma will continue to show deference to her father before she runs anything questionable.
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“I think he [Coach Geno] has helped me have a pretty good filter,” she noted. “I’m going to tell my dad, ‘I’m going to put this in there and this in there and is that okay?’ And he’s pretty much said ‘Put in whatever you want.’ He trusts me.”
Bills to pay and nothing’s for free until there’s controversy
Alyssa admits that she shopped the idea of blogging for the paper and thought she deserved to be compensated. “I did it because I was broke and needed money. I have rent. I needed an extra little bit to cover me,” she said.
Sports Editor Jeff Otterbein claimed in a recent note published on The Courant Web site that the paper was going to continue fitting Ms. Auriemma with a day rate of $125 dollars, the standard fee for its stringers. But now that the paper is saying it won’t finance the celeb writer…hummm, is there now an arrangement that is off the table?
What’s a celebrity blogger v. Jane Six Pack blogger?
By keeping the coach’s daughter as contributor (albeit a hired gun for free), it’s still not clear exactly how or if The Courant will hold Ms. Auriemma to the same constraints and protocols as other reporters who also moonlight as bloggers? Alysa Auriemma emphasized her duties to be quite distinct from the paper’s staffers in that she’s not covering the team on a day-to-day basis, she won’t be dropping any scoops or delving into any sort of scandalous fare even though her position is as insider as it gets.
“I’m not about the business to break anything huge,” Alyssa stressed. “If someone—God forbid—got injured; if I would have blogged when Caroline [Doty] got hurt (the media knew two days after, but I knew the moment it happened) that’s not my call to talk about that.”
She added, “If everybody knows the situation now I’ll deal with it.”
“My end of it is going to be ‘they played the game and then we went to dinner and this funny thing happened.’ Or ‘then we went to the shoot-around and this moment happened.’ Or ‘we went to meet the president and I got to personally meet him.’ I think it humanizes the story.”
Now that The Courant said it won’t be paying their celebrity blogger to pen items for its pages the lingering ethical issues seem to be downplayed for now. Ms.Auriemma as a free gun-for-hire might be no different than any person picking up a pen to write a letter to the editor or “My Op” piece or a reader venting online—only she’ll get better placement and her views will carry more weight.
It’s a new day
The aura around what she decides is fit for blog fodder and what is not will now be watched by many.
After quitting her day job at a Manhattan restaurant and confirming that she’s moving back home to prepare for grad school to study writing, it’s appears that Auriemma (who made a go at being an actress in the big city) wants her blog to stretch beyond hoops.
She said, “It’s not going to be all about the sports all the time. I’m going to talk about my stuff and stuff I’m interested in. At the end of the day I don’t want to be known as the girl that writes about that. I want to be known for stuff in my own life.”