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The Syracuse POST-STANDARD has offered an explanation for why it held onto a tape of a phone conversation between Bobby Davis, who is accusing former Syracuse men's assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of sexual molestation, and Fine's wife Laurie. Davis gave the tape to both the newspaper and ESPN in '02, and the POST-STANDARD's Michael Conner wrote following ESPN airing the tape last weekend and the paper subsequently posting clips online, "people began to ask questions." The questions were, “Wasn’t the tape recording the proof The Post-Standard editors said they lacked to publish a story?” and “Why didn’t the newspaper turn over the tape to police?” Connor noted after Davis approached the paper in the fall of '02, two reporters “talked to dozens of people and collected a lot of information,” but they still “needed more.” After discussions with Post-Standard reporter Mike McAndrew “and with our knowledge, Davis secretly recorded a phone conversation with Laurie Fine on Oct. 8, 2002. Our understanding is that it was legal, under the laws of Utah and New York, for someone in one of those states to record a phone conversation with someone in the other state without informing the second party.” Connor: "Some of the language seems to support Davis' depiction of his relationship with Fine. ‘Seems’ wasn't good enough to publish this story.” He added as to why the paper did not turn the tape over to police, "To us ... our role has always been clear: to investigate with a goal to publish. To us, handing over to police materials we didn't feel confident enough to publish was unimaginable. ... Imagine a news organization, failing to lock up a story, fueling police investigations by passing along leftovers from its reporting. Imagine how quickly we would lose the trust of sources we rely on and readers who turn to us if we turned from watch dog of government agencies to lap dog at their call.” Connor writes it is “hard to find a precedent in modern journalism for this role of newspaper as police tipster.” When people “ask about our ‘moral responsibility,’ however, we believe we were faithful to it.” Connor: "We exercised our moral responsibility by checking out Davis' story as thoroughly as we could. That's more than anyone else can say until the last two weeks" (Syracuse POST-STANDARD, 12/1).
HELD TO THE SAME STANDARDS: THEPOSTGAME.com's Jay Hart noted ESPN and the Post-Standard held onto the taped conversation for eight years and asked, "If the media are rightly aghast that Penn State football coach Joe Paterno kept quiet about Jerry Sandusky's alleged molestations, shouldn't news outlets be held to the same standard regarding Bernie Fine?" And even if "they did not have enough corroborating evidence to publish a story, shouldn't they have turned the tape over to law enforcement authorities?” ESPN said that it did not notify authorities of the allegations because Davis “had gone to the Syracuse police in 2002 and been told the statute of limitations had expired.” Now ESPN and the Post-Standard “find themselves in a situation eerily similar to the one that got Paterno fired and earned him a visceral beating from the media -- including ESPN.” There is certainly “a separation between journalistic responsibility and moral obligation.” In the case of Fine, neither ESPN nor the Post-Standard “felt they had enough information to publish a story that would effectively change a man's life forever.” Hart: “A distinction must be made between the standard for reporting a story and the moral obligation to report a potential sex crime against minors. Still, if we, the media, are going to hold the likes of Joe Paterno to a certain standard, then we'd better hold ourselves up to the same standard. We may be a part of the 'media,' but we're people first” (THEPOSTGAME.com, 11/30). CBSCHICAGO.com’s Dan Bernstein wrote under the header “ESPN Must Explain Itself, Soon.” With every day that goes by “since it became clear that ESPN preferred to protect [Syracuse basketball coach] Jim Boeheim, Syracuse hoops and their valuable programming property, the purported Worldwide Leader looks worse” (CBSCHICAGO.com, 11/30).
BBC COO Caroline Thomson has “warned that the corporation will have to be ‘ruthless’ in prioritising which sports it broadcasts in the future, warning that if the cost of media rights escalates it could have a ‘long-term problem,’” according to John Plunkett of the GUARDIAN. Thomson was speaking “after a six-month period in which the BBC gave up its exclusive live rights to Formula One, signing a joint deal with BSkyB to the chagrin of many motor racing fans, lost the French Open tennis to ITV, and agreed to share coverage of the World Professional Darts Championships with ESPN.” However, BBC “has signed new contracts to keep Wimbledon and Six Nations rugby union until 2017, and won back the World Athletics Championships from Channel 4” from ‘15. Thomson said that the joint F1 deal “generated the same savings as the corporation would have made if it had closed BBC4, and almost the same as it would have saved had it decided to shut BBC3.” Thomson later said that BBC “would focus on sports that appealed to the whole of the UK, and highlighted events such as the Wimbledon Tennis Championships and Six Nations rugby, as well as the Olympics.” She predicted the joint F1 rights deal with Sky “will work well." The deal will see BBC broadcast half of next season's races "live, including the British Grand Prix" (GUARDIAN, 12/1).
The NCAA and its digital media partner, Turner Sports, are launching a new iPhone app called “NCAA Sports” that provides live video streaming of more than 60 NCAA championship events across Divisions I, II and III. The NCAA app will feature score updates throughout the year, live and on-demand video of NCAA championship events and links to social media. “NCAA Sports” will carry live finals coverage of Divisions I, II and III field hockey, Divisions II and III men’s and women’s soccer, national collegiate men’s water polo and Divisions II and III women’s volleyball. The live video streaming coverage also will include Division II football quarterfinal games on Dec. 3. The app will be free from the App store on iPhone and iPod Touch devices. Turner also is unveiling a new mobile website for the NCAA’s official site, NCAA.com, for touchscreen phones. The mobile site will carry live scores, schedules, news and video recaps for the mobile screen.
In L.A., Lance Pugmire reported HBO will announce next week that Jim Lampley “will be joined ringside at the Dec. 10 Amir Khan-Lamont Peterson fight in Washington, D.C., by previously rotating commentators Larry Merchant and Max Kellerman.” A source described the teaming as a "once and only" situation created by boxing commitments for analysts Roy Jones Jr. and trainer Emanuel Steward. Merchant has rotated color-commentator duties with Kellerman since ‘07, “when an expiring Merchant contract led HBO to expand Kellerman's duties” (LATIMES.com, 11/30).
WINTER COVERAGE: MLB Network will air more than 15 live hours of coverage from the ’11 MLB Winter Meetings from Dallas next week with special editions of “Hot Stove” and “Intentional Talk,” starting with a “Hot Stove” preview on Sunday, December 4 at 8:00pm ET. On-site episodes of “Intentional Talk” hosted by Chris Rose and Kevin Millar will air each day of the meetings live at 5:00pm, featuring interviews with team personnel and updates on the latest news and rumors from around the league (MLB Network).
TV BREAK: On Long Island, Neil Best noted former Red Sox manager Terry Francona “appears committed to taking a year off from managing to work in television, where he got rave reviews filling in for Tim McCarver for the first two games of the ALCS on Fox.” One possibility for Francona “would be moving into the seat in ESPN's ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ booth being vacated” by analyst Bobby Valentine. An ESPN spokesperson said, “Terry is well respected for his great insight into the game. We have expressed interest and look forward to discussing it further with him." Fox also “has had discussions with Francona about more work” with that net in ’12 (NEWSDAY.com, 11/30).
MR. JONES AND ME: Columnist Bomani Jones has joined SB Nation, posting his first column on the website today. Jones is a regular contributor to ESPN’s “Around The Horn” and “Outside The Lines,” and a source close to the situation said that Jones will still appear on the shows (THE DAILY).
AND THE WINNER IS: CABLEFAXDAILY cites a Beta cable subscriber survey that shows Discovery Channel “overtook ESPN as basic cable subs’ favorite basic cable net” but statistical insignificance calls for Food Net, History, ESPN, TNT and USA “to be called equally favored.” Discovery, however “was the clear favorite among adults viewing TV on a smartphone/tablet and was joined by History and Nat Geo as the nets named most important to subs’ enjoyment of cable” (CABLEFAXDAILY.com, 12/1).