ESPN Defends Execution Of "The Decision," Downplays Its Impact On Network
ESPN Exec VP/Production Norby Williamson and Senior VP & Dir of News Vince Doria both "look back on 'The Decision' as a unique beast without a lot of bearing on the day-to-day choices at the network," according to Poynter Institute Ethics Group Leader Kelly McBride in the latest entry to ESPN.com as part of the Poynter Review Project. The July '10 special surrounding LeBron James' choice in free agency was "one of the most viewed, and one of the most hated, moments of ESPN television." McBride wrote, "No one we spoke with at ESPN suggests that if they had a do-over, they would reject 'The Decision' outright." Instead, they "talk about doing it better." Williamson, one of the architects behind the show, said, "I don’t have any regrets. It was a huge news event. We were committed to covering it. We would go after it with the same energy and passion." He acknowledged that he "would execute the broadcast differently today," but did not "want to go into detail." Doria said, "We could have done everything right and people would still be angry about LeBron." McBride: "Sure, but fans wouldn’t conflate their anger toward LeBron with their anger toward ESPN. No matter how normal ESPN tries to make 'The Decision' appear, it will forever remain in the minds of fans a target of deserving scorn" (ESPN.com, 7/8).