IU National Sports Journalism Center Graduate Fellow
Between Brett Favre’s texting habits and social networking pranks gone haywire, the affect of the digital revolution on sports journalism’s ethics has created major news in recent months.
Now, some of the figures creating that news are going to discuss the current climate.
On Nov. 2 the Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center will host a panel discussion on the IUPUI campus focused on sports journalism’s ethics with some of the most influential — and at times recently, most controversial — members of the media. Titled “Where’s the line?” the panel will consist of:
- Rob King, Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of ESPN.com
- A.J. Daulerio, Editor-in-Chief of Deadspin.com
- Ashley Adamson, sports reporter and anchor for WISH-TV, Channel 8
- Mike Wise, sports columnist for The Washington Post
The panel discussion will begin at 7 p.m. in room CE 450A of the IUPUI Campus Center.
"We're in the midst of a historic sea change in how people consume sports news and information, and in how sports journalists cover events and athletes,” said Tim Franklin, director of the National Sports Journalism Center. “Consumers are increasingly getting their news and watching sports on the web, on smartphones and on tablet computers. And they have more sources than ever to provide them with the coverage they need.
“This means that more and more sports journalists have to provide news and information both instantly and on multiple platforms. All of these swirling winds are resulting in fundamental changes in the sports media.”
Most of the assembled panelists are intimately familiar with the challenges and criticisms that can come with those changes.
Wise drew intense criticism in August when his attempt to make a point about lax sourcing standards among web media professionals backfired. Wise posted on his Twitter account that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be suspended by the NFL for five games for his involvement in a sexual assault investigation last summer, hoping to illustrate how quickly a piece of misinformation could spread online. Instead, Wise was suspended by The Post for printing false information through the paper’s Twitter account and was sharply criticized by his peers.
By contrast, criticism is something Daulerio regularly creates and flourishes in at Deadspin. His most recent controversial story — a report about Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre sending lewd text messages to a former New York Jets employee — ignited discussions about what constitutes news and the proper handling of a source’s information.
Twitter posts have also forced King to address social networking policies through suspensions. He handed prolific ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons a two-week suspension in 2009 for making inappropriate comments about the hosts of a Boston radio station with whom ESPN had a relationship. King also led the development of ESPN’s guidelines for the use of social media.
Franklin said those experiences raise important questions for a transforming industry in which social media and blogging is at times colliding with traditional media principles. Do they adhere to the same journalistic standards as reporters for legacy news organizations? Do they need to? Can readers trust the information they provide? Are more mainstream sports journalists changing their own practices to compete in this environment? Are they becoming more provocative to preserve their relevance to readers?
“These are all profound ethical questions that have a huge impact on people interested in sports and those who cover the game and the athletes,” Franklin said. “This symposium will explore those questions and others with some of the biggest — and most controversial — sports media members in the business. It will be a lively and important discussion."