Orlando Sentinel Denies Pushing Out Dwight Howard

by May 15, 2011

Last week, the Magic center took to Twitter to claim the Orlando media was trying to push him out of the city. In response, Orlando Sentinel Editor Mark Russell has issued a response on the Sentinel’s website: “To be sure, our coverage of Howard is complicated by his celebrity. Dozens of readers and Web users have told us — in sometimes colorful terms — to ease off Howard because our coverage will antagonize the superstar and surely drive him away from Orlando. Those readers say the Sentinel’s coverage helped drive Shaquille O’Neal’s free-agent exit to the Los Angeles Lakers 15 years ago. And Howard fanned those passions when he mentioned Shaq’s exit in his Twitter post. Our coverage — and our decision-making — is driven by our effort to put Howard’s future in context and report any developments that arise. We also will continue to initiate online conversations about what kinds of moves the Magic should make to keep Howard or how to get value if they elect to trade him. That’s what a newsroom should do. And it’s a dilemma Ohio’s largest news organization, The Plain Dealer, faced last year when LeBron James entered a free-agency holding pattern before picking the Miami Heat in a nationally televised ESPN show. Yet, before that decision, fans in Cleveland seemed to hunger for more information on their beloved star’s prospects to stay in Cleveland, recalled Debra Adams Simmons, editor of The Plain Dealer, which devoted lots of resources to the story and covered it from many angles. ‘One of the reasons for the breadth of our coverage was to capture all of the nuances of the story as it unfolded,’ said Adams Simmons. ‘Where we got pushback from readers was that some people didn’t want to see the stories on the front page every day. They thought it was a sports-section story.'”