Dolan's edict to Newsday, be nice to the Knicks?

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The Dolan family’s media empire is vast. It includes Cablevision, the fifth largest cable television provider in the nation, the New York Knicks (with the television rights staying within the Cablevision family) and Newsday, the newspaper and Website.

A favorite sport of newspapers in New York: ripping the inept handling of the Knicks. It’s a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, but it’s a sport nonetheless.

But not so much at Newsday anymore, as the New York Observer reports.

Newsday has a new policy for its sports page. The paper’s editors have told their writers there has to be a new, softer tone. They don’t want loaded words. They don’t want name-calling. They don’t want stories to be unnecessarily harsh.

In interviews with several staffers at the newspaper, the policy was explained to Newsday’s sports reporters and columnists around the beginning of the year. Here are the early results: Stories have been killed because they didn’t adhere to the new policy. One columnist left the paper in response. Reporters, both within the sports department and in the Newsday newsroom, are suspicious of the motives behind it.

The Knicks dealings with the media in general have bordered on the paranoid. Now they are controlling the message by controlling the medium.

Just a note to James Dolan: Don’t worry about what the media writes, worry about the product.

If you want to avoid criticism of your ownership of the Knicks, they need to win. They aren’t winning because you let the Thomas affair linger far, far too long. Now, let Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni turn your toy around. Stay out of their way. They are not perfect, it will not be easy, but these are the most competent people the Knicks have had at the top of the organization for a long time.