SBD/September 1, 2011/Media

ESPN's White Vick Photo, Headline Spark Debate Between Editor, Writer

Author of controversial Vick story unhappy with image ESPN used
Touré has "not been thrilled with the artwork" or headline that accompany his ESPN The Magazine story on Eagles QB Michael Vick, but the controversy "has sparked a conversation," according to Bob Ley of ESPN. While Touré analyzed how race impacts Vick's life in the article, his editors at ESPN came up with the headline, "What If Michael Vick Were White?" Touré said, "You don't want the art or the headline of a story to detract from the story and the headline -- which I specifically objected to to my editor and the image which I had no idea about before it ran -- detracts from the story in that it makes people angry and come to the story with pitchforks where I think the story is much more reasonable." ESPN The Magazine Editor-in-Chief Chad Millman said it is "standard practice for the editors at the magazine ... to think about the piece as a whole and not just as the article, but as a headline and as artwork that accentuates the article." Millman said he was "disappointed" that Toure doesn't like the artwork, but added, "I'm happy with ... the impact it's had and what people's response has been to it." Millman also said he has been surprised "quite a bit" by the reaction. But he added, "That's part of what comes into play when you have an issue about one player who happens to be as controversial and has done as well as Michael Vick has done on the field." Ley asked about Vick's endorsement deals -- Nike, Fuse Science and Unequal Technologies -- and said, "To what extent is that list a truer barometer of where he stands in the American heart?" ESPN's Bomani Jones said that's a "tricky question to ask if for no other reason than what draws us to Michael Vick is that he has these incredible physical abilities and the things that he's got contracts for now -- Nike is a little bit broader -- are things that boil very specifically down to what he can do on the field" ("OTL," ESPN, 8/30).

MILLION DOLLAR BABY: In Toronto, Cathal Kelly wrote under the header, "Vick Is The Face Of The New NFL." The NFLPA "did not go to war with ownership so Michael Vick could sign" a $100M contract with the Eagles. Kelly wrote, "If the trend continues, NFL offences will soon be comprised of a $30 million quarterback, a $15 million receiver, a $10 million blind-side tackle and eight other guys who have to take part-time jobs in the summer." Baseball, basketball and hockey are "filled to brimming with overpaid mooks who snookered some desperate GM into signing them to an insane long-term teal, staggering from one underwhelming season to the next, getting richer each year." Kelly: "Not so in the ruthless NFL, which makes it appealingly like real life. Vick's rehabilitation -- both physical and moral -- is the ne plus ultra of this trend" (TORONTO STAR, 8/31).
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