Sports leagues take on media

Major League Baseball, which has profited handsomely from selling the notion that baseball teams are part of the community — like the local park, or the high school — in order to get public funding for baseball stadiums, is shifting back to we’re a private business mode for a dispute with news organizations’ Web sites.

Editor & Publisher magazine reports MLB is trying to quash the use of pictures of baseball games by newspaper Web sites.

Targeted are photo “galleries,” a series of snapshots depicting — usually — the most recent game.

The Photo District News Web site says MLB is also requiring reporters “to seek permission to produce audio and video reports of game interviews, and limits audio and video reports made within the ballparks to two minutes or less.”

“Your new terms impose a form of prior restraint on the use of visual images (both still and video) that will negatively impact the editorial independence of our members and the press as a whole,” said Tony Overman, head of the National Press Photographers Association.

Historically, media organizations and pro sports franchises have had an incestuous relationship, but the trend now — as shown by the NFL’s media moves — is to control the marketing, err, coverage, of the product and cut the news organization out of the picture.