A Conflict of Interest w/ LAT Blogger?

In the comments to the recent post about Rich Perelman, the LAT's new Bruin blogger, it was pointed out the Mr. Perelman might be the official scorer for UCLA hoops.  

Others suggested that this might be a conflict of interest.  To get the the bottom of the issue, DumpDorrell posed the question:

... Someone on one of the UCLA boards pointed out that you might actually have some official role of sorts with UCLA basketball during games at Pauley. That you might be a record keeper of some sort. Is this true? This raises another question. Do you have any official role with UCLA or Morgan Center, or have any conflicts of interest with UCLA at all?....

You got to give the guy credit; within a couple hours, we had his response:

I have been the play-by-play statistician for UCLA basketball since my freshman year in 1974-75 and continue to provide this service to the UCLA Sports Information Department, now on a volunteer basis (I do get free parking for the games, however). I am also the crew chief -- again as a volunteer -- for the UCLA football stat crew which keep the official statistics for all UCLA home games and the Rose Bowl Game. You can blame me if you think your favorite back didn't get enough yards in a game (not that it will change the scoring). ...

When approached by Los Angeles Times Sports Editor Randy Harvey about nominating someone to write this blog for LATimes.com, I noted this potential conflict, but it was cleared by both The Times and by UCLA so long as I continued my statistical work strictly as a volunteer.

It's no doubt commendable that Mr. Perelman disclosed his close association with UCLA athletics before taking the gig.  That was the right thing to do.

But it's troubling nonetheless that someone ostensibly acting as an objective reporter on UCLA sports would be so cozy with the Morgan Center, even on a volunteer basis.  Even more so, it is troubling that Mr. Perelman was apparently approved ("cleared") by UCLA before he took the job.

Does this mean the Mr. Perelman is a bad guy?  Certainly not.  Does it mean that he's wearing two hats, and has, as he himself acknowledges, a "potential conflict" of interest?  Yes.

When posed with this concern, Perelman again provided a rapid response:

I have no problem criticizing anyone, but my own view is that if someone with my background is going to get into this position, it should be with the full knowledge of both sides....Disclosure and honesty are key; if I didn't share my background openly, would either side -- or you as a reader -- trust what I am writing? Now you know the situation and can make your own judgment: good or bad.

So, now we know.  And we can keep this in mind when we read his articles going forward.


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