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SBD/January 23, 2013/Media
N.Y. Times Details ESPN's "Awkward Position" In Handling Of Te'o Story
Published January 23, 2013
NEXT STEPS: After Deadspin broke the story, ESPN was “left scrambling to try to obtain an on-camera interview Jan. 17 with Te’o,” whose team of advisers “did not want him to sit before any cameras.” Matthew Hiltzik, a PR adviser to Te’o, “adamantly set a critical condition” with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap. ESPN “could interview Te’o off the air last Friday night only, in an intimate setting without cameras or a group of technicians.” Doria said that ESPN was “also limited to using two minutes of audio.” Doria: “We accepted that. The main aspect for us was no limitations” on questions. ESPN President John Skipper said, “It wasn’t ideal. We’d love to have video. But it was made clear that it was not negotiable.” Sandomir & Miller write ESPN “finds itself in an awkward position.” First, it “hesitated in the hope of a Te’o interview, and Deadspin got the story.” Second, by agreeing to talk to Te’o “without its cameras present, it lost the battle to put him on-camera to Katie Couric” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/23).
OTHER TAKEAWAY: Blogger Ed Sherman looked at the story's impact and stated, "In my mind, one of the bigger stories here is that Deadspin beat ESPN." If the Te'o "fiasco showed anything, it's that Deadspin will be a player for these stories in the future." This "won't be the last time the site nails a big one" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 1/22).
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Of note, the N.Y. TIMES’ Public Editor Margaret Sullivan reviewed the newsgathering process on the Te'o story earlier this month and stated it had “lessons for journalists, including those at The Times.” N.Y. TIMES’ Sports Editor Joe Sexton said one lesson was, “Trust but verify” (NYTIMES.com, 1/17). SI Managing Editor Christian Stone writes, "A story like this calls for an honest acknowledgement of our failure and a rigorous self-examination, but it also yields an opportunity. There is a story, a remarkable one that mutates with each news cycle, to be pursued and told" (SI, 1/28 issue).