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The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

ESPN attempts to appease media critics with new sourcing policy

Sources: ESPN gained a conscience about ethics
Many casual viewers may not know or even care that ESPN has been accused of plagiarizing on numerous occasions. In an even more fast-paced sports news cycle than the one it helped create, the four-letter network is trying to massage its image with a new sourcing policy. 
You may have noticed in the "Bottom Line" screen crawl the vague "media reports" or the equally elusive "source." The system is getting a bit more precise. 
The guidelines seem like common sense — don't take credit for something you didn't do — but beg the question: What took so long? This is the same thing mainstream media has been doing for several years.
"In the current environment of blogs and Twitter, it is often difficult to know definitively who was first to report a story, but it is still important to acknowledge how we initially became aware of that news. So, with a few exceptions, scripts and BottomLine entries will state the news was 'earlier reported by' or 'previously reported by,' rather than 'first reported by,' that ESPN reporter or outside entity. It will be at the discretion of the news desk to determine when and for how long a story warrants this treatment on television."
ESPN was first to report Lawrence Frank's firing Thursday afternoon. The Oakland Press and other media outlets credited them as such whether through re-tweets or written accreditation.
It's not difficult to give credit to other news orgs, whether it be through re-tweeting, "hat tips" (h/t) or "courtesy of" (c/o), or even using "via." A good policy is mentioning the actual source, whether it's a competitor or not, and a good, old-fashioned hyperlink.
That wasn't so hard, so what took "The Worldwide Leader" so long to get on board with journalism ethics? Might it have something to do with the fact their network's acronym puts the word "entertainment" before "sports?"


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