On Tuesday, On Campus Sports Network posted a job ad touting its close relationship with USA Today. It gave young sports journalists the impression that there’s a good chance their stories could appear in Gannett’s flagship newspaper.
“In fact, the VP of Content of USA Today Sports personally requested we refer the most talented OCS journalists to him, which means On Campus Sports could serve as your pipeline to a career at USA Today/Gannett.”
Late Tuesday, the USA Today reference disappeared and the ad was revised to say:
“Our relationship with major publisher partners means exposure to potentially tens of millions of college sports enthusiasts as well as possible job opportunities for you. In that regard, On Campus Sports could serve as your pipeline to a career in the professional media.”
I’ve asked USA Today Sports content vice president Mark Pesavento to confirm what I was told: that he never asked to be given names of the “most talented” OCS journalists.
I contacted On Campus Sports via email and phone on Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon. They haven’t returned by calls or emails.
UPDATE: USA Today’s Mark Pesavento sends this email:
We had some very preliminary discussions with OnCampusSports.com about working together, but we do not have a partnership with them. I did not ask for any referrals from them, though we did discuss in broad strokes what a partnership with us could mean in terms of talent development, both for us and for them. When the ad was brought to our attention, we contacted OnCampusSports.com, and they immediately amended the ad to reflect that and apologized to us for us for mischaracterizing the nature of our relationship.