MMA Scribes Don't Like New UFC Media Waiver

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Megaterio Llamas

Vigorously working member
First 100
Jan 15, 2015
7,896
9,664
It appears that mma journalists covering the UFC beat are being asked by UFC to sign a waiver in order to gain access to fighters and events. I just learned about this like, this second and haven't read the agreement yet, or even a detailed analysis of it yet but I though it was a big enough story that it probable deserved its own thread here.

STATEMENT ON UPDATED UFC MEDIA WAIVER

MAY 20, 2020

Dear MMAJA members,


The officers of the MMA Journalists Association are aware of an update to the agreement that the UFC has asked media members to sign in order to cover live events in person. While we are encouraged by the UFC’s willingness to adjust the wording of the agreement in response to concerns brought by the MMAJA and others, we still cannot advise members to sign this agreement, which we still regard as unnecessarily restrictive.
For any further questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to the MMAJA officers individually or collectively.

Sincerely,

Ben Fowlkes, president
Ariel Helwani, vice president
Marc Raimondi, treasurer
Josh Gross, secretary
Jeff Wagenheim, at-large officer
Dave Doyle, at-large officer

MMAJA STATEMENT ON UFC MEDIA WAIVER POLICY
MAY 11, 2020


Dear MMAJA members,

The officers of the MMA Journalists Association are aware of a waiver that media members have been asked to sign when attending UFC events amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It is our opinion that this document is overly broad and overreaching in its scope, and may interfere with the ability of media members to do their jobs fully and effectively. We are advising members not to sign this document, even if it means foregoing in-person coverage of these UFC events.

We realize that this may put some MMAJA members in a difficult position, especially if they have been asked by their employers to attend and provide coverage of these events. To a point, we understand the UFC’s desire to take measures to protect itself legally and limit its own potential for liability during this uncertain time. We also understand the UFC’s desire to subject everyone who may come into contact with fighters or staff to COVID-19 testing and other reasonable safety measures.
But it is our belief that some of the restrictive language in the UFC’s agreement could have a chilling effect on journalists, possibly limiting their ability to fully and accurately report the facts. This is something we cannot support.

MMAJA officers reached out to the UFC to discuss the matter, but received no response. We also consulted with The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (Home - The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press), which offers pro bono legal representation and other resources to “protect First Amendment freedoms and newsgathering rights of journalists.” RCFP legal fellow William Powell’s interpretation of the UFC participation agreement that MMAJA members and other credentialed media were asked to sign was that it was legally questionable and potentially ethically problematic. Going forward, RCFP offered consultation for MMAJA members, and would provide contact for a media attorney in Nevada if any of our members want to discuss challenging the agreement on public policy grounds.

We encourage members to reach out to us if they have any questions or concerns about our position. We offer our full and collective support to any MMAJA members who may be facing pressure to sign this document, or consequences stemming from their refusal to do so. Again, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us either individually or collectively with any issues or questions that may arise.
Sincerely,

Ben Fowlkes, president
Ariel Helwani, vice president
Josh Gross, secretary
Marc Raimondi, treasurer
Dave Doyle, at-large officer
Jeff Wagenheim, at-large officer

 

Megaterio Llamas

Vigorously working member
First 100
Jan 15, 2015
7,896
9,664
"
However, the New York Times countered White’s statement and explained that “nothing in the agreement obtained by the Times says that only untrue statements can be punished.”

The waiver also stated that “Participants” in the events cannot hold the UFC liable if they end up having “severe and permanent damage to health” or other outcomes “not limited to, death, fever, weight loss, irreversible pulmonary, respiratory and/or neurological system damage, mental or emotional distress, temporary or permanent disability, loss of income, loss of employment, loss of financial or other opportunities, medical expenses, which may or may not be covered by insurance, cleaning expenses, mandatory self-quarantine, loss of licenses.”

"
It is not only UFC fighters and staff who agreed to sign. ESPN reported that media members were also required to sign the waiver, thus ensuring that none of those present at the event would be able to report critically on the UFC’s health and safety measures. In short, the journalists at the event who were expected to report on the UFC’s pandemic protocols actually waived their right to do so – a significant blow to their ability to do their jobs. It also all but guaranteed that the UFC would not be held accountable for any missteps on its part.

That lack of transparency is a huge concern. To date, we have no understanding of the protocols in place when a fighter tests positive for Covid-19 (which happened) and what quarantine procedures are mandated for fighters and staff after the events. Coupled with the promotion using a waiver to silence the fighters, reporters and potential whistleblowers, it is clear that UFC 249 took place under questionable circumstances.

While UFC 249 was supposed to lay the blueprint for other major sports organizations to hold events during the pandemic, the event instead serves as an example of the lengths leagues may go to to put on shows. Despite the UFC’s testing procedures, and its limited number of competitors, a fighter still tested positive for Covid-19, and the only thing protecting the UFC is a legal waiver that no athlete or journalist should be forced to sign."

 

Dick Niaz

"Be available for life to happen" - Bill Murray
Jan 14, 2018
5,011
9,906
I don't know why media have to be anywhere near the event. The UFC could facilitate pre-scheduled virtual sessions the fighters are required to take part in, then do the post fight confrere remotely. This seems like such an exercise in futility.
 

ConorMcGregorsBeard

Stewart Era Liberal
Jul 22, 2015
35,625
34,128
I don't know why media have to be anywhere near the event. The UFC could facilitate pre-scheduled virtual sessions the fighters are required to take part in, then do the post fight confrere remotely. This seems like such an exercise in futility.
They seem to want to have their cake and eat it to.

What gets me about all this hubbub with the waiver is that the UFC is trying to protect itself from something that actually happened at the event.
 

Robbie Hart

I apparently look like a Jewish accountant
Feb 13, 2015
40,667
43,291
I don't know why media have to be anywhere near the event. The UFC could facilitate pre-scheduled virtual sessions the fighters are required to take part in, then do the post fight confrere remotely. This seems like such an exercise in futility.
I agree, on the one hand they moan like a whore about “how dare Dana risk lives” and on the other “I was selected to cover the ufc and must attend”
Go fuck off you fucking fat weirdos and the one guy who has a 1980s hairstyle with eyeliner and looks like he should have been a member of the Cure

There is no reason any of you need to attend.....at all.

Also, can’t any of them get in shape or do something so they don’t look like a wannabe?

fuck sake
 

BROVID-19

hörnchenmeister
Dec 16, 2015
1,094
1,747
Go fuck off you fucking fat weirdos and the one guy who has a 1980s hairstyle with eyeliner and looks like he should have been a member of the Cure

There is no reason any of you need to attend.....at all.

Also, can’t any of them get in shape or do something so they don’t look like a wannabe?

fuck sake
This is the best statement about MMA media that I've ever heard. Sums up all points perfectly, and attitude- and tone-wise in an MMA way, as well.
 

BROVID-19

hörnchenmeister
Dec 16, 2015
1,094
1,747
I agree, on the one hand they moan like a whore about “how dare Dana risk lives” and on the other “I was selected to cover the ufc and must attend”
Go fuck off you fucking fat weirdos and the one guy who has a 1980s hairstyle with eyeliner and looks like he should have been a member of the Cure

There is no reason any of you need to attend.....at all.

Also, can’t any of them get in shape or do something so they don’t look like a wannabe?

fuck sake
May I use that as a blanket statement in the future for other stuff about MMA media. it fits every topic! it's wonderful
 

kneeblock

Don't it always seem to go
Apr 18, 2015
10,315
19,161
Really no reason to be there in person as MMA media. But it's nice to see them at least finally grow a little spine and push back on the company line. So many MMA reporters have sacrificed all of their integrity for "access" and now they see where the road ends. This sport is still in its fanboy stage of media and I'm not sure what it'll take to get out of it.