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August 23, 2013

Product vs. Profit: The problem with ESPN

For a long time, ESPN has played an important role in sports journalism. Yes, there have been notable lapses in their journalistic integrity, but on the whole, for the first 20 or so years of ESPN's existence, you could count on them to care more about getting a story than the impact it would have on their bottom line. That just isn't the case anymore.

I'm not sure if it is the proliferation of the loud opinion show, the dumbing down of SportsCenter, the relegation of OTL to ESPN2 (for more loud opinion show), or the dumbing down of other coverage. Perhaps it is all of it, but we've become happy with less from the WWL. Then you find out they've decided to walk away from a Frontline story involving one of their most cherished partners, the NFL.

Y'all, ESPN doesn't trust us sports fans to use our brains.

We all get that in order to stay on the air, ESPN has to make money. The sad part is ESPN thinks they need the NFL more than the NFL needs them. While ESPN would make far less money if the NFL fired them, the NFL won't find any other network to offer them $1B for a TV package that essentially is 35 games a season and a piece of the playoffs.

It is a dangerous place when the folks that we trust to cover a sport are being given notes on that coverage by those who they cover. Imagine if the White House* went to CNN New York Times and told them to lay off [fill in the blank] or they'd be cut off. It'd be front page news. And remember, the NYT isn't paying the White House (probably) for access. There'd be literal marches of protest.

When you think about it, it is a huge insult to us as sports fans. Yet, we just figure we'll take what we get and be happy with it.

Not me. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore (at least until next week when I get fired up about Tray Mathews' practice situation).

*Yes, I get the difference in government vs. private partners, but it is the best example I can think of that would piss a large segment of the sporting public off.


M. said...

You're incorrect. The current white house does this all the time. And most people are unaware i.e. it's not front page news b/c it's the same people that would be reporting it. Otherwise, I love your coverage of UGA sports.

Carter_Burger67 said...

Now that we know what side of the issue they are on, we can agree that ESPN is no longer a trusted source on the sports they cover.

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