A bruising couple of days for ESPN and Gawker Media, whose blogging empire includes Deadspin.
First, ESPN. Frank Deford, left, took on the media giant in his latest commentary for National Public Radio:
"For instance, the network has a very unbecoming habit of subtly claiming it alone uncovers all the news. Typically, a valid report will come out, but hours later, ESPN will declare that it has 'confirmed' such-and-such. That's kind of tacky stuff. Exclusive: ESPN hereby confirms that it is Wednesday.
"A couple of weeks ago, ESPN initially refused to report the news that was everywhere else headlined — that Pittsburgh's Super Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had been accused of sexual assault. The network's excuses were too noble by half, because there's a double standard, and ESPN is known to cozy up to the very superstars it purports to cover.
"Just suppose that CNN regularly had cutesy commercials for CNN starring Nancy Pelosi, John McCain and Rahm Emanuel. Well, that's the equivalent of what ESPN regularly does with top sports personalities. The practice is, simply, a journalistic disgrace, and, because ESPN is so powerful, it diminishes the integrity of all sports journalism."
As for Gawker, Bill Grueskin, the dean of academic affairs at Columbia's graduate school of journalism and former editor at the Wall Street Journal, wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review that the online media company could be more upfront in its linking of stories.
Grueskin detailed a Sunday post about a series in the St. Petersburg Times on the Church of Scientology. Although Gawker credited the newspaper up high for its reporting, it didn't actually link to the St. Petersburg Times until deep into the post. There were six links in the post — five of them to previous Gawker coverage and one to Deadspin — before a link to the newspaper.
Grueskin writes: "I know from my own study of Web usage at WSJ.com that traffic from links falls off dramatically — as much as 95 percent — after a reader scrolls down two or more screens. That why Yahoo’s new home page occupies a mere screen-and-a-half. So by putting links to Gawker up high and links to the Times at the end, the blog is greatly reducing the amount of traffic that would go to the original source."
Grueskin adds: "Given the extent of St. Petersburg’s coverage, Gawker's excerpts seem to fall within Fair Use rules. But the Times ought to get more visible and more prominent links. The paper’s reporters and editors deserve not just credit but traffic, and a more upfront linking procedure would help ensure they get it."
Thanks to the Midwest Correspondent.