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SBD/December 2, 2011/Media
Poynter Review Says ESPN "Gave Up Prematurely" On Investigating Fine Story In '03
Published December 2, 2011
DROPPED THE BALL: FOXSPORTS.com’s Jason Whitlock noted Syracuse Post-Standard Exec Editor Michael Conner’s explanation of why the paper did not turn over the tape to police “made sense.” Laurie Fine’s statements “were not clear-cut proof.” What was “clear was that Davis’ allegations needed to be investigated by professional investigators.” There was nothing in it for The Post-Standard so the paper “had no interest in handing over its information to the police.” The Post-Standard and ESPN “could’ve used the media spotlight to force the police to investigate Davis’ allegations.” They “dropped the ball.” Whitlock: “In their hunt for the big scoop, Internet clicks and ratings, they concealed evidence from the police, unfairly released one-sided, inflammatory stories that convicted Bernie Fine in the court of public opinion and now they don’t have the courage to apologize” (FOXSPORTS.com, 12/1).
ANOTHER SIDE OF THE STORY: SI’s Richard Deitsch spoke with ESPN reporter Mark Schwarz, who broke the Fine story. On the criticism of his reporting, Schwarz said, “I think the problem with people that react to any story of this nature, including Jason Whitlock and [Syracuse head basketball coach] Jim Boeheim, is these are the types of stories that are difficult to fathom. We don't understand sexual child abuse as a culture and so when people do come forward, which is so very unusual, often the reaction is, 'That guy must be looking for money. That guy is looking for attention.' … I think Jason Whitlock and Jim Boeheim reacted to the very first thing they saw and decided it was unfair, untrue and the victims became their target.” Schwarz also called claims that ESPN pushed the Fine story as hard as it did in reaction to the Penn State story "ludicrous." Schwarz: "One story has nothing to do with another story. The fact is, the reason why this story was aired on ESPN on Nov. 17 is because someone came out from denial to corroborate a story that we had been given by one man in 2003” (SI.com, 12/1).