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SBD/November 7, 2012/Media
Poynter Review Examines Journalistic Integrity Of ESPN.com's Rumor Central
Published November 7, 2012
TOE THE LINE: ESPN is “trying to be both: the upstanding, uber-professional sports newsroom, and the gritty know-it-all gossip-monger.” The company “clearly wants to be on higher ground than sites such as The Big Lead or Deadspin, which famously published Brett Favre’s alleged sexting pictures.” Kaufman said, “We don’t go trolling for comments in chatrooms. We are trying to leverage the expertise that we have.” But RC is “an example of how ESPN brushes up against that boundary of ethical behavior, crosses it ever so slightly, then justifies it by trying to bring virtue to an inherently dishonorable pursuit.” McBride: “It hurts the brand by reinforcing the perception that ethics don’t matter to ESPN when there is money to be made. Kaufman’s clear-eyed explanation of the balance he and his staff walk every day is somewhat reassuring. But mere thoughtfulness isn’t enough to declare something journalistically sound.” Hard-core sports fans have “demonstrated a willingness to consume every type of suspect information,” and ESPN “figures out a way to serve them what they want, whether it’s journalism or not” (ESPN.com, 11/6).