Author of new Saban biography: ‘Journalism is not done by permission’

nick-saban-bookExcerpts of my latest column for Poynter:


Under the heading any publicity is good publicity comes Nick Saban’s reaction to Monte Burke’s new biography on him, “Saban: The Making of a Coach.”

During a press conference in early August, the Alabama coach, without being asked, expressed his disapproval in Burke writing an unauthorized biography.

“I just want everybody to know that I’m opposed to an unauthorized biography; for anybody,” Saban said. “And I think that’s some person that you don’t even know trying to profit by your story. Or someone else’s story. And one of these days when I’m finished coaching at Alabama I’ll write an authorized book because you know there’s really only one expert on my life. And guess who that is. Me. And there won’t be any misinformation, there won’t be any false statements, there won’t be any hearsay, there won’t be any expert analysis from anybody else.”


Burke had his own reaction to Saban’s comments. Unauthorized biographies are a staple in the industry. It is no different than a media outlet continuing to pursue a profile despite not receiving cooperation from the subject.

“The standard joke is that Saban doesn’t understand the economics of the publishing world,” Burke said. “I read thousands of stories on Saban and they weren’t authorized. Did Bob Woodward get Barack Obama’s permission to do books about him? No. Journalism is not done by permission.

“He might have a beef if a writer goes in with a certain agenda. That’s not fair. However, if you write a book that’s objective, it’s hard to have a beef.”



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