It 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."
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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