The Star Tribune was all over this new Minnesota Timberwolves' logo thing.
On Monday, when the basketball team made the logo designer available to media, the paper wrote a short profile about the designer behind the new image. It begins:
"If, as Rodney Richardson said, a brand is a story, then this is a saga."
Sure. The saga of the Timberwolves brand took an unexpected turn on Tuesday.
The team's much-hyped new logo was set to be released at halftime of that night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Instead, a series of pop-up ads appearing on the Star Tribune's website revealed the new wolf logo, seemingly inadvertently. Screenshots appeared first on Reddit, and then rapidly made the rounds of internet sports blogs.
Yet somehow, despite its being the very source of the leak on a story it was following closely, the Star Tribune seems to have missed its occurrence.
Instead, the local paper of record covered the logo launch on the schedule set by the Timberwolves, waiting about nine hours before publishing a story of any kind. When at last, it did appear, the story -- filed under the byline "Staff Reports" -- was a straightforward write-up, not unlike a press release:
"The Timberwolves on Tuesday unveiled a new logo and color scheme during halftime of their final home game of the season," it begins. The story adds that the brand design was "introduced as part of a 4-minute video paying homage to the history of the franchise."
Is it possible the whole day went by, and no one at the Star Tribune noticed the logo had leaked?
They still haven't. As of this morning, in addition to the "Staff Reports" story, the paper's website has two stories about last night's game (one describing a "well-received halftime presentation of the team's new logo"), a column by Patrick Reusse which uses the logo as a theme to explore the state of the franchise, plus a reader reaction poll about the wolf drawing.
None makes a reference to the logo showing up online before the halftime party.
Now seems a good time to point out both the Timberwolves and the Star Tribune are owned by Glen Taylor. There's no reason to think the paper's taking it easy on the team's on-court or front office performance; Reusse's column labels this a "failed" season, only the latest in a string of 13 years of "earned futility."
But under normal circumstances, the Star Tribune would consider the release of a local franchise's new logo breaking news, regardless of how it went public. If, for example, the Minnesota Vikings' new logo had accidentally showed up in a Fox9 promo, the newspaper would've covered it -- maybe even made the pre-launch error the hook for its story.
Covering high-profile local businesses is the Star Tribune's beat. That includes covering the Star Tribune itself: In 2009, the paper wrote about its own bankruptcy; in 2014, the newspaper reported on Taylor's purchasing the company; in 2015, it covered the company's aquisition of City Pages.
Those are weightier matters than the paper's involvement in the accidental disclosure of a basketball team's new pet wolf. And yet, the paper hasn't mentioned the leak, even in passing.
"Truthfully? What's the big deal?" asks David Brauer, a veteran Twin Cities news reporter and editor, and former media critic at MinnPost. "They could just say, 'Yeah, we let the cat out of the bag, and now here's the logo, and here's the story.' That wouldn't have hurt them in any way. It would've been cool, actually."
Brauer says "owning up to bad stuff" is traditionally a shortcoming of almost every local media outlet, and the Star Tribune is no excepion.
The fact that it was Glen Taylor's newspaper neglecting to cover something about Glen Taylor's basketball team adds another layer.
"It's good for people to watch the Star Tribune, what it does with issues like this," Brauer says. "Even though this is a small example, it's important to have integrity."
UPDATE: After this post was published, City Pages learned of a statement the Star Tribune issued about the Timberwolves logo. The following statement is attributed to Steve Yaeger, vice president and chief marketing officer at the Star Tribune.
"Due to a production error in our advertising department, for a brief period of time earlier today the Star Tribune inadvertently displayed on its website an advertisement from our longtime partner the Minnesota Timberwolves. This advertisement included the new, much-anticipated Timberwolves logo. We deeply regret the error and have taken steps to ensure something similar does not happen in the future."