SBD/Issue 243/MediaPrint All
Ombudsman Feels Wise Is Lucky
Not To Have Been Fired For Tweet
Washington Post columnist Mike Wise yesterday apologized for "deliberately posting a phony scoop on Twitter" and said that he accepted his one-month suspension from the newspaper, according to Howard Kurtz of the WASHINGTON POST. Wise said intentionally posting a false report was a "horrendous mistake." He added, "I'm not a journalism ombudsman, and I found that out in a very painful, hard way. I need to take my medicine and move on, and promise everybody this will never happen again." Kurtz notes "some in The Post's newsroom found the suspension to be harsh, while others saw the penalty as too lenient, but Wise did not challenge it." Wise: "I'm paying the price I should for careless, dumb behavior" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/1). WASHINGTON POST Ombudsman Andy Alexander wrote Wise is "lucky he wasn't fired" from the paper because "fabrication is a major journalistic transgression." After Wise's tweets "became known to his Post bosses on Monday, they quickly contacted Wise to seek an explanation." Washington Post Exec Editor Marcus Brauchli "settled on the 30-day suspension from the Post," which "does not affect Wise's broadcast work" on WJFK-FM. Post Sports Editor Matthew Vita said, "Clearly, we consider what Mike did was poor judgment on his part. He knows that what he did violates our core principles." Alexander wrote what Wise put on Twitter "wasn't reporting." He was "fabricating, which is the greatest sin in journalism" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/31). Meanwhile, a Comcast official said that Wise will not be appearing on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic's "Washington Post Live" while he is under suspension by the Post (THE DAILY).
A HUGE MISTAKE: FANHOUSE.com's Michael David Smith wrote Wise's Twitter post "wasn't an innocent mistake, this was Wise fabricating a 'scoop' because he thought it would be funny to see who he could trick into believing it." Smith added, "The annals of journalism are filled with the names of reporters fired for fabrications. Wise should spend the rest of his career thanking his bosses at the Post for not adding his name to that list" (FANHOUSE.com, 8/31). CNET.com's Greg Sandoval wrote Wise is "one of journalism's best sportswriters," but in addition to the "ethical questions, Wise also failed to correctly calculate Twitter's growing influence as a news source." On his Twitter account, Wise "identifies himself as a Post reporter," and thus he "must know that the Post's name automatically lends the information credibility." It is "not unreasonable for other journalists to assume that a report -- even in the form of a tweet -- from a Post writer was properly checked out" (CNET.com, 8/31). Columbia Univ. digital media professor Sree Sreenivasan said a journalist's reputation "is on the line with every tweet, for better or worse." Sreenivasan added, "People have a reasonable expectation that it’s accurate or the best of what you know at the moment" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/1). Comcast SportsNet's Ivan Carter said, "He messed up, no doubt about that. ... But I do hope that people pause and realize that Wise is a damn good columnist and an all-around good guy as well" ("Washington Post Live," CSN Mid-Atlantic, 8/31).
GREAT DEBATE: Wise's suspension sparked an interesting back-and-forth on Twitter between Washington Post reporter Dan Steinberg and SB Nation Senior Editor Chris Mottram. In an interview with TBD.com, Steinberg complains that "a big part of SBNation's mission is to steal our (stories) and repackage it -- they take other people's stuff too." Mottram took to Twitter, calling it a "pretty bold (and false) accusation." Steinberg, also on Twitter, responded, "I think it's legitimate to wonder whether it's good for journalism that so many sites subsist on borrowed items." More Mottram: "Pretty horrible choice of words. We don't steal content. We do link to content and properly source it, just like you do." Steinberg responded, "Well, that was a bad word, and that wasn't my point, anyhow. But I don't think 'repackaging' is a bad word" (THE DAILY). Steinberg later yesterday afternoon on his blog alluded to his exchange with Mottram and wrote, "In the process of attempting to point out that Wise has great value to our newspaper, I also said something stupid about another site, which I regret. Sorry to everyone. That was bad form" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/31).
ESPNLA.com Attracted Nearly
2.7 Million Unique Visitors In July
ESPN has "slowed plans to expand" its local websites into new cities and has "become more cautious about the prospects of significant growth from local operations,” according to a source cited by James Rainey of the L.A. TIMES. An ESPN official, however, stressed yesterday that the company "continues to plan to add local operations." ESPN established local websites in five cities -- N.Y., L.A., Chicago, Dallas and Boston -- but it "remains far from certain whether the expansion into metropolitan markets around America, announced about a year ago, will snatch huge chunks of the audience from established local outlets.” Data from Internet traffic measurement company comScore shows that ESPNLA.com attracted "nearly 2.7 million unique visitors a month for July, its strongest month since its founding” in December. The audience “has generally been trending upward in the other four cities too.” But a source said that ESPN “expected more." While the local reporters “have undoubtedly expanded the range of coverage on local sports, the ESPN locals haven’t landed the kind of blockbuster scoops, exclusive interviews or consistently stylish features to win a high profile.” Rainey notes the ESPN brand "carries a lot of weight and has been a powerful revenue engine for its parent Walt Disney," but it "can't just show up ... and expect to earn a permanent and meaningful foothold in these local markets." As a business proposition, it "remains to be seen whether the ESPN locals will build a big enough audience or bring in enough money to make all the effort worth the trouble” (L.A. TIMES, 9/1).
EA Seeing Sales Increase
For "Madden" Video Game
Initial North American sales of "Madden NFL 11," released on Aug. 10, have outpaced last year's version by an estimated 5%, reversing a year-over-year sales decline seen last August for the flagship football video game title, company executives said late yesterday. First-month unit sales for the XBox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii version of "Madden" have amounted to about 2 million, tops for the industry during August, but still shy of the first-month total of 2.2 million seen two years ago for "Madden NFL 09." EA Sports President Peter Moore said he was encouraged by the stronger reaction this year to the reworked "Madden," which now features a more streamlined play-calling structure and quicker overall play. "It's still early days, but we're definitely seeing some real strength, certainly more optimism, in the market for the game," Moore said. "There seems to be a dynamic developing where the triple-A, blue chip titles are doing really well, and everything else is having a much tougher go in the market, but certainly 'Madden' is one of those triple-A titles." The console version "Madden" sales add to strong, but as-yet-untabulated digital sales for iPod and iPad versions, which each debuted atop iTunes sales rankings. More broadly, digital revenues for "Madden" are up more than 200% from a year ago. EA Sports' disclosure of its August sales estimates for console-based versions of "Madden" were aimed to get out in front of NPD Group sales data expected later this month.
GETTING SOCIAL: EA Sports yesterday also released a Facebook version of the game entitled "Madden NFL Superstars." Borrowing from fantasy football, social games such as Farmville, and EA's previously released and successful "FIFA Superstars," the new version involves selecting a team of NFL players, playing simulated games, and building and managing the team through increasingly more difficult challenges. Like many Facebook games, there is a significant free-to-play component, but "Madden NFL Superstars" will also be buttressed by a virtual goods-based revenue model. Moore said he sees the Facebook version of "Madden" as both its own experience and a marketing vehicle for the other iterations of the game. EA execs have discussed the likelihood of such a release for most of this year, and at present, it stands as the only football game in Facebook fully licensed by the NFL and NFLPA. "Facebook is obviously a place we need to be, and for all the success 'Madden' has year after year, those sales are still only a single-digit percentage of all the people who consider themselves football fans," Moore said. "So it's a big step for us to get in front of another huge audience and expose them to the 'Madden' experience." "Madden NFL Superstars" was built with the aid of social games developer Playfish, which EA acquired last year.
Siegel Had Choice To Put Show On Speed Or
ESPN, But Went With BET For New Audience
NASCAR, which has "struggled with diversity issues for decades, is taking its message to BET" as it debuts "Changing Lanes," a reality-competition show, according to Richard Huff of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The series, premiering tonight at 8:00pm ET, is "built around drivers in NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program, aimed at minorities." Thirty drivers were "invited to a NASCAR diversity combine last fall to try out for the program." In the show, the group is "whittled down in competition before the cameras" as they compete for a "spot with Revolution Racing," a team run by The 909 Group Founder Max Siegel, whose company manages the Drive for Diversity program. Siegel said that the idea was to "create a show that would appeal to both the sport's core fans and those unfamiliar with racing." Siegel: "I was pretty pleased with the end product. What wound up happening is compelling entertainment, but it has motor-sports integrity." If the project is successful, Siegel said that he "hopes there will be a way for the show to get additional telecasts on BET's sister channels, which include MTV, VH1 and CMT" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/1). In Daytona Beach, Godwin Kelly notes the show, narrated by rapper Ludacris, is "patterned after reality shows like 'Big Brother' and 'The Real World,' with contestants living in the same house and being eliminated one at a time." Siegel said that he "could have worked with any number of cable networks on this project, including Speed and ESPN, but decided on BET to expose NASCAR racing to a new audience." He added, "Strategically, for the first run of this show, this was the best fit. It's no secret we're targeting the African-American population. ... It brings credibility that NASCAR would partner with that network. It's a great place to start and make a statement and hit a focus group of people" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 9/1).
PART OF A BIGGER PUSH: In N.Y., Viv Bernstein notes it "may seem odd to find a sport so closely tied to white Southern men featured on a Web site devoted to African-American entertainment, but it represents NASCAR's latest attempt to build a following for minority drivers it hopes to develop into stars." NASCAR has spent "seven years on its Drive for Diversity program, which has struggled to add minorities to the mainstream of the sport," and no driver from that initiative "has made it full time in the upper-level Cup, Nationwide or Truck Series level." Siegel stressed that "Changing Lanes" not only "seeks to build a fan base for minority drivers, but also to give sponsors reason to support them." He said, "What really struck me as a huge impediment to be able to get corporate sponsorship was, no matter how talented these athletes were, no one knew who they were." Siegel said that he has "signed up sponsors including Sunoco, Freightliner and Goodyear and expected to name others in the coming months." NASCAR Managing Dir of Public Affairs Marcus Jadotte: "Not only will it allow us to tell the story of the Drive for Diversity program, but it will be for many an introduction to the sport and that is important for growing NASCAR audiences" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/1). NASCAR Media Group COO Jay Abraham, an Exec Producer of "Changing Lanes," said, "(The show) continues to show the commitment the sport and league has toward diversity. We are very proud of the efforts we've made in the field of diversity, and we have a great program in place now. The series is going to help highlight and showcase ... what we're doing in that area" (NASCAR.com, 8/31).
TBS Using Kid Rock's "Born Free" As Official
Marketing Theme For MLB Postseason
In Detroit, Brain McCollum reports "Born Free," a song from Kid Rock's upcoming album, has been "enlisted by TBS as the official marketing theme" for the net's MLB postseason coverage. Turner has "create a 2 1/2-minute video for the song, which intersperses baseball footage and scenes from Rock's recent concerts at DTE Energy Music Theatre" near Detroit. Clips from the video will be "repurposed for commercial spots across the Turner networks, including TNT and CNN," and the song "will be integrated into the game presentations on TBS" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/1).
FIREABLE OFFENSE? In DC, Leonard Shapiro wonders if MASN Nationals analyst Rob Dibble should stay or go after last week he made "thoroughly inappropriate and totally misguided comments about" Nationals P Stephen Strasburg. Dibble "made a huge mistake going on his Sirius satellite radio show last week and saying that Strasburg ought to 'suck it up,'" but "aside from questioning Strasburg's so-called toughness, was this really a firing offense?" Shapiro: "Dibble made a huge mistake on Strasburg, no question. But maybe he ought to get a second chance, as long as he shows the proper contrition and apologizes to Strasburg, both face to face and on the air." Shapiro noted the Nationals are "pondering" what to do about Dibble, who has "another season left on his three-year deal with MASN." The team seems "content to let Dibble twist in the wind for awhile" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/31).
GOING HIGH TECH: Fox Business' Brian Sullivan noted IBM is using an "augmented reality" at the U.S. Open that allows fans to "point your iPhone with an application on it right at the court ... or at the food court and it'll tell you what's going on." IBM VP/Client Executive Marketing Rick Singer said the company has "taken the camera functionality and the GPS functionality of an iPhone and married them" in the technology. Singer: "So if you're curious, after you download your iPhone app on where the closest food is or what are they serving in the food court, you just take your phone -- the camera -- aim it right there, hit the dining tab and it'll tell you what food is there" (Fox Business, 8/31).
LINE-UP CHANGES: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic has hired former Boston-area WHDH-NBC sports anchor and reporter Julie Donaldson as an anchor and reporter for the net's "SportsNite." The net also named anchor and reporter Jill Sorenson beat reporter for the Capitals, replacing Lisa Hillary, who is leaving to become CSN Philadelphia's Flyers beat reporter (CSN).