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Rumblings at ESPN


Like many sports fans, I'm eternally grateful for ESPN, which revolutionized sports reporting on TV. (Although in this age of instantaneous information on demand, I no longer watch SportsCenter, choosing instead just to click to the crawling scores on the bottom on ESPN News. As a Rotisserie player, I do, however, make it a point to catch large chunks of Baseball Tonight.)

But ESPN's role as both a journalistic institution and as a broadcast (or cablecast) partner in professional and collegiate sports presents it with very some serious ethical dilemmas. Here, for example, is an ESPN internal memo that ended up on Jim Romenesko's Poynter site that doesn't exactly put the organization in a good light.

Tue 3/28/2006 4:02 PM
From: John Skipper
To: All Bristol Staff
Subj: Big Ten Visits Bristol

Jim Delany, the Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference will be on the Bristol campus tomorrow and Thursday. It is important for us to show him and his associates that "Bristol is Big Ten Country".

As you have noticed, we have put pennants, banners, and Big Ten flags on campus. In addition, we have had buttons made proclaiming "Bristol is Big Ten Country". These buttons are available at the following locations:
Building 2 Lobby
Building A Lobby
Building B Lobby
Cafeteria

Please pick one up and wear it tomorrow and Thursday.

On behalf of the Content Group, we thank you.

(By the way, isn't the term "Content Group" is a little disturbing?)

And here in today's New York Post is a fascinating column by Phil Mushnick describing a near in-house revolt over ESPN's ill-conceived reality series starring none other than reigning baseball bad guy Barry Bonds. Looks like this culture here is dividing up between journalists with standards and programmers with dollar signs dancing in their eyes.

We know who to root for.

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