Hartford Courant Has Hands In Auriemma's Pockets, Perhaps Literally

The Connecticut basketball media horde has long been more ‘friend of the program’ than anything else. How can you blame them when the two coaches -- Jim Calhoun on the men’s side and Geno Auriemma on the women’s -- have a combined 1,501 victories, 13 Final Fours and eight National Championships. ↵

↵It’s understandable that much of the coverage would skew to the positive. But the Hartford Courant wants to take that to another level. ↵

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↵The paper announced the hiring of Alysa Auriemma, the daughter of the UConn women’s coach, as a blogger to cover the -- you guessed it -- UConn women’s basketball team. ↵

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↵Auriemma told the AP that she’ll give an insider’s viewpoint about her father and the team. Are we talking quotes he won’t be giving other reporters, or favorite ice cream toppings? How inside will the viewpoint be? Per the AP: ↵

↵
↵⇥The newspaper's sports editor, Jeff Otterbein, said she'll be paid $125 per story to contribute to the newspaper's Web site on a monthly basis. He said Auriemma will be a celebrity blogger, not a reporter. The 23-year-old, who graduated from UConn with a degree in dramatic arts, said she'll take readers behind the scenes, but will not write anything controversial about her father's team. ↵⇥
↵⇥
↵⇥She said she'll also counter what she called "false press" about her father, a Hall of Famer who will coach the women's basketball team in the 2012 Olympics. ↵⇥
↵⇥
↵⇥"There's a lot of false press about my father," she said. "This is a good format to kind of clear up some things and kind of get the truth out there." ↵
↵So the Hartford Courant just hired Geno Auriemma’s own daughter to be a PR shill for the program and her dad. There’s a lot of false press about her father and she plans to clear up some things and ‘kind of’ get the truth out there? ↵

↵This will really be posted on the website of a newspaper? ↵

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↵John Altavilla, a reporter for the paper who covers the team, gave the AP the company line, likening the hiring to NBC's tapping Jenna Bush Hager as a ‘Today’ correspondent. ↵

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↵⇥"Her blog, an inside look at what it's like to be her, is an entertaining read, and a nice insight into the life of the women's basketball team you all care about so much," Altavilla said.
 ↵
↵But George Bush’s daughter wasn’t hired to cover George Bush in the White House, or ‘kind of get the truth out there’ about her dad. She’ll be talking about education and has specifically noted that she won’t be covering politics. And even that has still angered some TV critics and political pundits. ↵

↵Auriemma’s daughter being hired by one of the biggest news outlets covering the team to blog about the team is almost as hilarious a conflict of interest as paying Auriemma to cover the team himself. If you read the AP’s account of several ethical charges against the Courant in the last few months -- including stealing stories from other news outlets and allegedly firing a columnist because he was critical of newspaper advertisers -- it wouldn’t be surprising if Auriemma ends up the sports editor by season’s end. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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