SBD/February 16, 2011/Media

HBO's "Real Sports" Examines Controversial Ways Of Popular Website Deadspin

Daulerio willing to cross ethical lines if he thinks it benefits the story
Last night's edition of HBO's "Real Sports" profiled Deadspin.com, which has "made a reputation for itself by publishing anything and everything," according to HBO's Andrea Kremer. Deadspin Editor A.J. Daulerio said the popular website's ethics policy is "elastic" and added, "When it's for the good of the story, I'll definitely cross those lines." Daulerio: "I can see why people would be critical of the site, why people would be upset at me at some of the stuff we publish. I'm not going to try to put a halo around some of the things we do." Kremer noted the site has paid for three stories so far, including the photos and voicemails Brett Favre allegedly sent to Jenn Sterger that have attracted more than 5 million page views for Deadspin. The site also published foot fetish videos thought to be made by Jets coach Rex Ryan and his wife. But Deadspin "isn't only about penis pictures and foot fetishes," as the site has "broken stories with some actual news value as well." In the last five years, Gawker Media Owner Nick Denton has "built a mini-empire of websites," including Deadspin. Gawker Media Owner Nick Denton, whose company includes Deadspin, said, "Deadspin publishes the stories that you can't read anywhere else." Deadspin writer Barry Petchesky: "Find me a newspaper that didn't cover Rex Ryan's foot fetish videos. Find me a paper that wouldn't have killed to have gotten that story first. ... It's the stuff they wish they could touch but have to wait for us to do it and then when we put it out there, they're the ones who are going to ask in a press conference and make it a national story." Kremer after the taped report aired said Daulerio "will define his ethics policy as how strongly he wants to get a story, and he says he can be ruthlessly tenacious if he really wants it." Kremer: "They'll do things that mainstream journalists won't" ("Real Sports," HBO, 2/15).

THE MAN BEHIND IT ALL
: In Philadelphia, John Gonzalez wrote Daulerio's approach, which "sometimes involves paying for seedy information and trampling on other long-established journalism tenets, has yielded big stories and bigger controversies." Daulerio said, "I'm easy to loathe. A lot of what we do and what we've become notorious for are stories that break the conventional rules of journalism. ... Most times, we're trying to tell the truth and not sugarcoat it. Sometimes, that's really unpleasant and unsavory." Philadelphia Daily News Editor Larry Platt, Daulerio's boss during a previous stint at Philadelphia Magazine, said, "What used to be a shout is now a whisper. A.J. is proving that to have an impact, you have to (have) a full-throated scream. ... I can't stress enough how proud I am of him. He has (guts). Too many journalists are afraid" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 2/14).
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