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SBD/October 16, 2013/Media
ESPN Ombudsman Writes Net Deserves Credit For "League Of Denial," But Questions Remain
Published October 16, 2013
ESPN CAME OFF WELL: PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler said, “ESPN came off well. The Fainarus and Keating upheld journalism.” Some ESPN journalists said that they were "thrilled by the results of ESPN’s participation in the project, but felt a certain foreboding, even 'weirdness.'" Despite recent "pep talks by newsroom leaders, they wondered about the future of investigative journalism" on the net. One "important question is why didn’t ESPN do this show by itself in the first place." ESPN Senior VP & Dir of News Vince Doria: "The majority of documentaries here are done by ESPN Films. ... By and large they are terrific story-telling vehicles, but they are director-driven films, not typically executed by investigative reporters, nor do they purport to be investigative in nature. On the news side, we’ve taken the approach that we will execute stories in a report-the-news-as-we-learn-it approach, hence the notion of doing lengthy pieces, 10-14 minutes, as the reporting occurs, rather than gather string for a one-hour or two-hour show." Doria added, "Much of the reporting in the documentary had appeared in shorter form on our air. ... In this case, Frontline came to us with the idea ... No more complicated than that." Lipsyte wrote ESPN, in this "triumphant yet bittersweet moment, has something to prove, and the means to prove it." It can "continue to turn loose the Fainarus and Keating and [Don] Van Natta, and its stable of hard-nosed reporters such as T.J. Quinn, Tom Farrey, Mike Fish and Shaun Assael." Despite what at times "seemed like sloppiness or naivete or compromise, ESPN journalism won." It may have "won ugly, but it won" (ESPN.com, 10/15).