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N&O Takes ESPN's Sources to Task

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Matt1735, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. Matt1735

    Matt1735 Well-Known Member

    http://www.newsobserver.com/news/q/story/862814.html

    Column is mainly about use of anonymous sources and patting themselves on the back for being right when they have, but the lead is another rip on the WWL for being wrong.
     
  2. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    Even through the N-O editorial was self-serving, it was right.
    The problem is that the WWL doesn't care about being wrong. Neither do bloggers. When you're happy to be right only half the time, it's pointless for newspapers, who must bat 1.000, to get all up in arms about them.
     
  3. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    What the heck is this crap? Certainly the N&O can't even begin to consider itself a competitor for ESPN or the LA Times. So by "competitors", Drescher seems to be taking a shot at what I can only assume are other papers in the region, but he doesn't bother to back it up in the column. He only berates ESPN's use of anonymous sources and doesn't even mention any newspapers in the region. So he implies that papers competing with the N&O are using anonymous sources promiscuously, yet doesn't give any evidence to back up that claim. Real nice.

    Also, look at the stories that he said the N&O did use anonymous sources for: Duke football coaching search, N.C. State football and basketball coaching searches. He also failed to mention their use of anonymous sources for Butch Davis and Tom O'Brien hiring stories. So basically, they've used anonymous sources for every recent big story that happened in their area in the last couple years. The only reason ESPN uses anonymous sources more "promiscuously" than the N&O is because it covers a wider scope.
     
  4. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Active Member

    I'm glad someone is willing to take ESPN to task. Could have done without the self-serving overtone, though.

    The N&O knows how to cover those Triangle schools and is well-sourced. The readers don't need to be browbeaten in regards to this.
     
  5. Twoback

    Twoback Active Member

    Wrong, wrong, wrong.
    Every daily newspaper is in competition with the national folks in the realm of coaching hires/fires and player movement/recruiting.
     
  6. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    Especially when it comes to covering Duke and North Carolina.
     
  7. bigpern23

    bigpern23 Well-Known Member

    The problem is, there's no quantifiable downside to being wrong, even for newspapers. Report a big rumor that turns out false, and the newspaper's name is mentioned on every news outlet on TV, including the WWL. It's guaranteed free advertising.

    If the report turns out to be wrong, a small correction is run, but no advertising $ is lost, and might even be gained by all the free exposure.

    Meanwhile, the public's trust is eroded. But try fitting that into your fiscal plan.

    There's no way to quantify its negative effects on the paper's image, but there is a way to quantify the exposure the paper receives when it is mentioned every 20 minutes on every cable sports station.
     
  8. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    So are we saying ESPN dedicates as much time and resources to covering the Duke football coaching search as the N&O and other papers in that area? Is N.C. State's basketball coaching search given the same weight by ESPN as, say, a coaching change at Kansas or Kentucky? Conversely, is the N&O sending its writers to follow the Michigan football coaching search? That's the thing: For the N&O's readership, what ESPN provides on everything from that area, with the exception of perhaps the biggest one or two stories, cannot match what the local media outlet provides in terms of depth and breadth of coverage. ESPN isn't making the push to be the media outlet of record for everything Duke/UNC/N.C. State athletics, whereas the N&O and its local competition are; hence my argument that ESPN isn't really a competitor. Now, the next time Duke has a men's basketball coach opening, sure ESPN can be considered a competitor in that particular story. But for the day-to-day operation and for the less glamorous area athletics programs, ESPN doesn't put in the manpower like the local media does.
     
  9. awriter

    awriter Active Member


    No one's saying that ESPN is covering every single game or practice, like a local paper. But when it comes to coaches searches or trades or some other major story, damn right ESPN is a competitor. And a formidable one, too.
     
  10. Twoback

    Twoback Active Member

    If there's an opening for head basketball coach at N.C. State and someone from a national media outlet -- ESPN or otherwise -- is breaking major developments on that search, how is that not competition?
    The N&O can hide behind the "we don't use sources" silliness, but it's also behind, period. As it clearly was for several major developments in the 2006 search.
     
  11. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    One part of this problem is that some people who break "news", only to learn later that they were wrong, are considered to be aggressive and well-sourced, while others who do exactly the same thing are simply considered to be wrong. It's hard to know which way your boss is going to classify you until it's too late. And he might shift from one to the other the next time.

    Editors don't like having stories that are wrong. But they also don't like hearing another media outlet report news from their coverage area that they don't have.

    Another part of the problem: Being wrong in print has a much longer shelf life than being wrong over the airwaves or on the Internet. You can update a Web story with new information, you can simply report the new information on radio or TV. But once someone has the botched story in their hands, at home, you can only correct it in print with a new story basically admitting your error.
     
  12. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    My point is that in terms of permanently taking readership/subscribers away, ESPN isn't a competitor for the N&O. ESPN can scoop the N&O on an N.C. State coaching search story for a few days, but when an N.C. State fan wakes up and says, "I wonder what's going on with N.C. State athletics today", do you think that fan is going to go to ESPN first, or to the N&O? In terms of a specific story, sure ESPN can be a competitor. But ESPN can scoop the N&O for a week on a coaching search, and the N&O still likely would not lose subscribers because of what it provides to the local reader the other 51 weeks of the year. ESPN, or any national media outlet for that matter, cannot serve as a viable long-term substitute for local media in terms of providing the local audience with coverage of the local team, and if you are subscribing to the N&O because you're interested in Triangle sports, you are not going to drop your subscription because they got scooped on a couple coaching search stories.

    However, if another local media outlet (paper or web site) that covers the same teams as the N&O is scooping them on the coaching search stories, then it does pose a threat to the N&O's circulation/readership. My problem with the column is that the last two lines seem to be referring, at least in part, to these outlets (certainly when N&O readers think of the paper's "competitors", they'd think of area papers and TV first), yet the column is all about ESPN -- a national entity that's not even on the same playing field -- and offers no examples of the local outlets' "promiscuity". If he had written, "You can believe ESPN, or you can believe us", I wouldn't have issues with it. But he paints all other competitors with a broad brush by pinning ESPN's actions on them too.
     
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