Deception and Greed: CBS, B/R Leeched Free Work From Pros

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Deception and Greed: CBS, B/R Leeched Free Work From Pros
(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

There is a scene in the movie Red Dawn in which the colonel tells one of the young guerillas: "All that hate's gonna eat you up, kid."

Robert responds, his eyes dead: "It keeps me warm."

It's an apt description of my feelings toward CBSSports.com and increasingly toward Bleacher Report.

I held off in the initial furor after it was revealed that CBSSPorts.com hijacked its own "contest" and ignored its own rules in selecting who will be its NFL correspondents this fall. I swapped comments with a few folks, but held off writing my own commentary on the subject until now.

The reason I'm writing now is that it has become increasingly clear that Bleacher Report was complicit in what was going on.

When B/R posted an ad on journalismjobs.com advertising the contest, no doubt thousands of sports journalists responded. Every journalist looking to leg it up the career ladder checks the site constantly.

While some of us, like myself, followed the rules of the contest and began "covering" teams for B/R, some others went directly to CBS. CBS determined to hire many of them.

Now, both CBSSports.com and Bleacher Report are businesses. They can hire who they want to hire. I think the pieces I did on the Texans proved above and beyond that I was the most qualified for the spot -- compared to the guy who did FOUR pieces, who apparently got the job -- but if CBS wants to hire the other guy, that's their right.

The problem is that neither CBSSports.com nor Bleacher Report let any of us who were staking everything on this know that the contest had been hijacked. They kept silent long after the May 29 deadline came and went, and even talked about "extending" the deadline for "evaluation."

Why? CBSSports.com had already decided who it wanted.

The reason for that month and a half of silence is that both CBSSports.com and Bleacher Report were getting something they hadn't expected -- high-quality free copy. Lots of it.

Without the large numbers of professionals like myself writing for free, both sites would have had to rely on the contributions of hobbyist writers, and no doubt the quality of their NFL coverage would have suffered during that long run headed up to training camp.

So they kept their yaps shut, and fools like myself kept submitting article after article under the assumption that the contest was still on, turning down other job offers because the contest rules talked about "exclusivity." Once we found out what had happened, we found to our chagrin that the paid gigs we'd turned down had been parceled out already.

The shock of losing the "competition" to someone I hadn't even seen competing -- B/R insists the Texans correspondent came from its ranks -- was devastating.I've lost some contests before and I've been passed over for some jobs before, but never have I been strung along for a month and a half like that.

The injury to that insult, however, came after the "contest" was pronounced closed.

I got a mesasge from B/R offering me a spot as a "featured columnist" for the Texans. An unpaid position.

Now, were I gainfully employed as an auto mechanic or an insurance salesman and logged on here because I loved to argue about sports and hadn't spent my entire adult life earning a living with my writing, I'd have jumped on the offer. But I don't need "exposure." I need a paycheck.

I did my best to be polite when I declined the offer ... and almost immediately got a second e-mail asking me for a 400-900 word analysis of the Texans headed into training camp!

Funny, but I got no response when I asked how much B/R was going to pay for the piece.

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