Tuesday, April 28, 2009

ESPN lifts Donovan McNabb post from Yardbarker without giving credit

UPDATE: ESPN has issued a correction!

ESPN has an article running on its homepage right now about how Donovan McNabb is encouraged by the Eagles' picks and moves. The source for the story was McNabb's Yardbarker blog. You see how I hyperlinked that so you could go read the source yourself? Yeah, ESPN didn't do that. They mentioned that he said these things "on his blog" but did not link to it nor mention Yardbarker anywhere in the article.

The article goes on to quote from McNabb's post at length -- 211 words in total, which is 45% of his entire 464-word entry. There is virtually no information in the article besides a listing of the Eagles' picks and moves and quotes from McNabb's Yardbarker post. The bottom of the article notes that "Information from ESPN reporter Michael Smith and The Associated Press was used in this report." Again, no mention of Yardbarker.

On the bright side, it's good to see that Yardbarker is such a respected platform for athlete blogs that an athlete's blog post is quoted as if coming from a direct interview. Yardbarker verifies that all blog posts are truly from the athlete, and the media trusts our authority.

But for Yardbarker to not be mentioned or linked at all in ESPN's article feels like a deliberate sleight. ESPN has done this many times before, sometimes crediting McNabb's Yardbarker words as coming from DonovanMcNabb.com (where they do not appear), other made-up sources, or nowhere at all. To the TV folks' credit, I heard that McNabb's blog post was mentioned on Sports Center earlier today and credit was given to Yardbarker. But the web article does not give proper credit. And I may add that quoting the meatiest 45% of another's copyrighted article goes way beyond any kind of newsworthiness fair use.

ESPN has been making an effort to embrace this "new" medium of blogs recently. The clumsy Blog Buzz TV segment has been improving, so I hear. But failure to link and give proper credit to blogs has been a persistent problem. This infuriates and alientates bloggers, who are generally very mindful of proper hat-tipping netiquette.*

But anyway, is this really an issue of giving blogs credit? Or just an issue of giving proper credit to sources, period? What kind of journalism is being practiced in these ESPN "news" articles? Was AP the one who lifted the quotes and then ESPN just followed off the AP version? Could someone at ESPN please get back to me on this? I have sent a message through their feedback form.

*I would direct ESPN to read Matt Ufford's FanHouse post from two years back, "How to Give Blogs Credit: a Handy Guide for the Mainstream Media," but alas, AOL seems to have destroyed it. Here's the Ballhype link to give you an idea of how linked up it had been at the time... high-five again, AOL. UPDATE: Thank you Matt Watson for passing along the new link where Ufford's guide lives! Too bad the old link doesn't redirect to it, but oh well.


Robert Littal said...

You are preaching to the choir

basketballbuzz.ca said...

Great catch, you might want to check this article out, it seems like the new york post is bitting wikipedia too.


Anonymous said...

ESPN is to sports reporting what CNN is to news. Worthless. Maybe ESPN should hire Anderson Cooper.

Ethan Jaynes said...

You gottsta give credit where credit is due. This was yet another bad blog move by ESPN.

JCN said...

Just an issue of giving proper credit to sources, period. Though I'm sure laziness plays a role, too. There's no incentive to link to anyone internally, I'd bet.

Anonymous said...

I love the fair use analysis--fools forget that Alana G is really Alana G.J.D.! ;)

p.s. - this is LaTowna, can't get the dang google blogger log-in to work on my office computer!

Los Brown said...

Though they forgot to give credit in the article, ESPN did recognize Yardbarker on SportsCenter.