Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Poynter Review passes buck on ESPN vs. Feldman vs. Sports Internet Community

((ht: espn))
Bruce Feldman

For those of you following the late-last week internet phenomenon of #FreeBruce, otherwise known as Bruce Feldman, we now have, aside from the "Official" ESPN response that Feldman was never suspended, an "Ombudsman" of sorts response.

We'll qualify ourselves a bit by saying we may have been a bit presumptuous in our previous story on this topic, which you can read RIGHT HERE

But we do stand by what we said.

Now, our friends at the 4-letter, have decided to empower the fine folks at the Poynter Institute to handle their questions of journalistic integrity. And for those unfamiliar with the Poynter Institute, that is exactly what they do. They are the ultimate "Think-tank" for anything journalistic. And they are very, very good at it.

Kelly McBride of the Poynter Review Project took a look at the handling of the Feldman issue and the 4-letters handling of Mike Leach in general, the results were interesting if you are into such things.

You can read the full explanation RIGHT HERE

Among the items she raises: She was less than complimentary of ESPN's vetting process and handling of the Feldman issue. She believes them when they say Feldman wasn't suspended,  he just needed to "Lay low". If he didn't lose any pay, then yeah, you've got an argument, but it still sounds like semantics.

She chastises our pal Brooks at Sports by Brooks for being incorrect. Though we don't have her insight or details, it appears on the surface, he wasn't totally wrong either. The question seems to be more the use of the words "Suspended Indefinitely". 

She also is very harsh on ESPN for their handling of the Mike Leach versus Adam and Craig James story. And that we 100% agree with. And that is the root of this whole problem. It appears they took sides with the James's in it, and that under any circumstance, is wrong.

And she mentions that Feldman is not without fault. And she's right. While we have the utmost respect for Feldman and what he does. He should have been more proactive with his concerns over what Leach said in his book about his employer. Right or wrong, there is no way they or any other employer would have looked at that and not questioned him.

The issue of reporters co-authoring books with people they cover is touched on as well. And there really shouldn't be much debate here, as much as the paycheck is nice to have, you can't do it. By the nature of teaming up, you lose some of your objectivity. And it opens you up to having it questioned. Doing a book yourself about a subject...that's a little different.

For his part, she mentions that Feldman is petrified of coming out of hiding, fearing he is not going to be able to move forward from this. And he's not wrong. Though in a perfect world he should be able to move forward, he's now going to be questioned about it and looked at differently. 

We, for what it is worth, agree with a lot of what McBride says here. This story got a bit ahead of itself. One big problem, which she touched on, but didn't elaborate is that there is a growing mistrust in both the internet/blogging community and the Sports Journalist community over what the 4-letter does. They seem to want things both ways when it comes to covering sports and to be an objective journalist, you just can't be "Entertainment" and "Journalistic" at the same time. And they want to be the ones controlling the message. It doesn't work like that.

The Leach story is the perfect example of this mistrust and they've done nothing to change that belief since then. That is why so many outlets immediately assumed the Feldman story was what we thought it was. And the lack of a response from the 4-letter just made it worse. 

There is a balance the folks in Bristol need to find and while sometimes they do it, sometimes they don't and when they don't, it tends to get really ugly, really fast. 

Think about this:

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