Friday morning, the Grizzlies announced the launch of Grind City Media, their new branded content/media operation starting up for the 2016–17 season. They made some impressive hires, bringing in Michael Wallace (formerly of ESPN) as Senior Editor, Contributor, and analyst, Alexis Morgan of SLAM magazine as Digital Content Reporter, and (in presumably the final twist of the #FreeVerno saga) Chris Vernon—who will continue to host The Chris Vernon Show under the Grind City banner.
In doing this, the Grizzlies are getting ahead of a trend that’s been happening in NBA media over the last couple of seasons. Teams have slowly but surely been hiring their own “content producers” (aka “people formerly called writers”) to write for their own sites. Sports franchises (and the NBA seems to be leading the charge among US leagues) are removing the media middlemen between fans and sports content, and in this move, the Grizzlies are making a bold step into running their own branded content arm.
Really, it started earlier this summer, when Dave Joerger was fired and the news broke on Grizzlies.com with a complete Q&A with General Manager Chris Wallace instead of a press conference. That’s the way “journalism” in general is headed: just write the stuff yourself. I have no doubt Grind City Media will be able to do really interesting work just by virtue of the access they’ll be able to have to the organization and to the players. We’ll see what happens when/if some bad news breaks; one would presume that will still come from the “usual suspects” crew of national writers who have been breaking those stories for the Pera Era so far. At any rate, the Grizzlies are continuing to prove their willingness to invest in areas of running a basketball team that aren’t bound by a salary cap. Grind City Media is another one of those areas, and an extremely forward-thinking marketing move from a team that has been doing very smart things in that area for a while now.