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ESPN shouldn't bother with Poynter, an ombudsman & quit faking journalism

Erin-andrews-0011_display_imageIt is cute to see ESPN play journalism and employ the nationally renowned Poynter Institute to act as its journalism watchdog and ombudsman. This is a mammoth organization that stands for Entertainment Sports Programming Network. Be sure to read that first word closely.

Thanks to my Twitter follower and former Fort Worth resident and University of Missouri grad @StephStouffer she passed along to me the ESPN mission values statement that is available if you click here.
Its mission statement reads: "To serve sports fans wherever sports are watched, listened to, discussed, debated, read about or played."

I read this whole page a few times to see if the word "journalism" is mentioned. It's not. 

Because ESPN pays billions of dollars to the NBA, NFL, MLB and several high powered college conferences there is such a deep conflict of interest that exists it can not possibly follow the standards of conventional journalism like a news agency that follows, say, your local government.

How former SMU running back Craig James is still allowed to work as a broadcaster after the whole Texas Tech/Adam James/Mike Leach debacle says pretty much everything you need to know. ESPN is like a lot of big corporations that employ "selective integrity". The rules apply to everyone, except when they don't.

Or when ESPN hopped into bed with the University of Texas to create the Longhorn Network and, according to the contract that is now all over the Google machine after it was requested by Texas A&M under the open records act, Bevo can force ESPN to fire anyone on the network who "does not reflect the quality and reputation desired by UT."

Chris-bermanOr the fact that ESPN on-air personalities from Chris Berman to Erin Andrews are allowed to act as spokespeople for companies.

I can't remember the last time Monday Night Football color analysts Ron Jaworksi or Jon Gruden didn't trip over themselves glorifying every single thing the players and coaches do, regardless of the score.

Considering the financial relationships that exist between ESPN and so many sports leagues and organizations, it does a fairly decent job of reporting the bad news. But it also employs a bevy of mouthpieces and shills that can't possibly be too harsh or they risk losing their source, or alienating their friends. 

ESPN has such a monopoly on the rights to carry so many different games in so many different sports that the viewer has little alternative but to watch, listen and read. But from a journalism standpoint, ESPN is not that much different than E! News.

Most sports fans read enough, and have enough readily available to them, to jump on the Internet to read a local newspaper story to determine if there is another side to a story.

The only people who truly care about this are the members of the media not employed by ESPN. We feign outrage, only until we're hired by Bristol and then it's all good. My media brothers and sisters who are so irritated by the four-lettered are all secretly lined up around the block hoping they call. Good for Erin Andrews, or any of the rest of them. The joke's on us.

Most sports fans don't even know what the Poynter Institute is, and cares even less what it thinks. Most sports fans just want to watch the games, know what is going on, and likely don't worry too much about journalistic standards from an organization that starts with the word "Entertainment".

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Well said..all the way thru. They are nothing more than a sports related TMZ show that 'shills' for all the North/Eastern teams. It's been especially noticeable with their leadoff stories mostly about the Eagles (puke) mess instead of the World Series. It's as if they forgot all about baseball as soon as Boston and NY lost.

Richard Nelson

I liked your article. Well said. Now GIVE ME A JOB!!!!


I thought that ESPN stood for Eastcost Sports Network.

The Divagator

I agree very much with your first and initial points, but not with the conclusion. I am neither a member of the media nor looking for a job in Bristol, but ESPN's role concerns me. They've become so large as to affect the governance of college athletic departments and are (I fear) a great source of corruption via their support of the football bowl games and the shady executives who run them.

ESPN's power has effectively broken the back of the NCAA as an institution of self-regulation by flooding the "marketplace" with TV money in order to optimize the operation of college football along a more TV-friendly basis (Tuesday night college football games? Bowls that no one cares about between 6-6 teams? Unending conference realignment?). The NCAA was always a weak institution. Now, it is absolutely powerless, unable to even enforce its own rules.

Mac = hypocrit

Seriously, Mac? Are you kidding. Get off your high horse. This is the biggest joke I've seen. Aren't you the guy who openly told your reporting brethren that your editors sent you out to sporting events with a camera just to get T&A shots of dancers and cheerleaders to increase your web traffic? You are laughable. Too funny!

The Big Mac Blog

Two things - no editor sent me out with a camera to take T&A pix of dancers and cheerleaders. That was my own initiative.
And you misspelled 'hypocrit'. It's with an 'e' at the end. Come on, you're better than that.

That's all a part of riding a very high horse. Many thanks for reading.

hi-ho Silver, awaaaaaaay!

Tom Louton, Bedford

Umm. Doesn't that make that poster right, Mac? Spelling or not? Your own initiative? How is what you're doing any better?

The Big Mac Blog

I am not quite sure how placing a photo of Blake Lively, a Big 12 cheerleader or Jennifer Aniston is a professional conflict of interest. My Cheerleader Chat idea was pretty much copied straight from Sports Illustrated's website. Now are these things sophomoric? Guilty as charged, your excellency. Thanks for reading.


I agree with you. The NCAA has sold it's soul to ESPN and they are not journalists. They continue to use unnamed sources constantly to report stories that turn out to be untrue. Sound familiar, Mac? Ready to stop using unnamed sources? Maybe the Pointer Institute will have the guts to call them out.


Oh, and I also take issue with your point that the only people who care are in the media. I post on ESPN discussion boards and the lack of journalistic integrity is a common topic. Lots of fans agree with you.

The Big Mac Blog

Doc - Thanks for reading. As for your comment about the practice of using unnamed sources, I am happy to issue a stop order on such practices provided all consumers of media are good with not knowing what really happens. I know Richard Nixon would have preferred it. The way world works. Appreciate the feedback.

Chuck of Delraybia

These days all media are faking journalism. At least with ESPN you know what you're getting...

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