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June 16, 2006
Starring Mark Cuban as Joe Pulitzer
Deep down, Mark Cuban is a news junkie. He loves the news media, even if he's always jumping down its throat for a status-quo mentality or the gotcha-work of some well-known sports writers.
As the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Cuban is trying to change how the NBA manages its business. As the owner of HDNet (with Todd Wagner), he's trying to change how the film industry manages its business by advocating day-and-date releases for films.
Now it's apparent Cuban is hoping to introduce his maverick ways to the news industry: Cuban has offered a maverick news icon -- Dan Rather -- a three-year contract to host a weekly news show on HDNet. Rather would also produce two documentaries per year for the network.
Dan Rather would be to HDNet what Howard Stern has been to Sirius: a well-known, yet-polarizing marquee talent whose strong work ethic would help fuel the growth of the fledgling business. Rather's mere presence and media-savvy would generate millions of dollars in free publicity as Stern expertly did for Sirius.
"What I expect to do, what I hope to do, is bring this HDNet thing to fruition," Rather told the Times.
This follows news on Wednesday that Cuban will launch Sharesleuth, a venture to to expose securities fraud and corporate malfeasance. Cuban may be a billionaire with plenty of executive-level customers who sponsor his Dallas Mavericks and the American Airlines Arena which he partially owns, but Cuban isn't above holding corporate executives who lie, cheat or steal to public accountability. Amen, brother.
Cuban may emerge as a modern-day Joe Pulitzer: A media maverick whose unconventional ways with newspapers made him fabulously wealthy, but his practices were always imbued with a blue-collar mentality (unlike what constitutes a good number of corporate-owned news operations in 2006). It's little wonder that the Dallas Mavericks jerseys, which Cuban designed himself, are blue.
Perhaps it's more accurate to say that Mark Cuban loves the idea of shaping the news media; he certainly knows how to stay well-positioned in the middle of it. Will journalists within a re-imagined news media one day compete for the honor of winning a cobalt-blue Cuban Prize medallion?
Update: Dan Rather is officially leaving CBS, paving the way for him to join HDNet.
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