AA has routinely taken the ESPN Ombudsman to task for their lack of impactful writing and coverage of ESPN in the last year. The Poynter Institute has often fallen short in meaningful information and criticism for readers, fans, and observers of ESPN ever since their tenure as ombudsman began. At times, the Poynter staff might as well have been ESPN PR crafting pieces that defended the network without offering any real and relevant questions or criticism. However, Jason Fry's effort in tackling one of ESPN's biggest controversies in the last year hit all the right notes.
Poynter was swift in their reaction piece to the infamous statements about Jeremy Lin that led to one editor being fired and one ESPNEWS anchor being suspended for 30 days. Fry's column also answered the question that ESPN declined to address initially - why was there not checks and balances in place to protect editor Anthony Federico from having a possibly offensive headline from being published at 2:30 AM. Here's the story from Poynter on how the headline was published without a safety net in place...
Anthony Mormile, vice president for mobile content at ESPN, said the Bristol-based editorial team for the mobile sites consists of eight people who usually work two per shift. After 2 a.m., one editor is often catching up on the “back end,” updating content for sports that aren’t in season and taking care of other editorial loose ends. The other editor is generally handling the “front end” of the site, loading up “experience carousels” with headlines, summaries and links to articles. (Because cellphones offer less screen real estate than desktop computers, the mobile editors often write different headlines.)
Mormile said that, on Saturday night, the front-end editor -- 28-year-old Anthony Federico, who had six years of experience on the mobile team -- liked Begley’s column and decided to spotlight it for the mobile site, sensing that the conversation had shifted from the Knicks’ loss to potential holes in Lin’s game.
On the Web side, (ESPN SR VP Rob) King said, lead content packages and headlines go through a copy desk before they’re pushed live, and a copy editor is always there when a home page editor is working. But the mobile team doesn’t have “that level of oversight … you had one person making a move that a lot of people could see.”
Mormile says the mobile editors generally double-check each other’s work, providing at least an informal safety net. But the other editor on Federico’s shift was busy supporting ESPN’s Bracket Bound app, which is getting a lot of usage in the run-up to March Madness. Federico pushed the headline out himself -- and, when Mormile was alerted a little after 3 a.m., Twitter “was blowing up with people putting up screen shots and condemnations.”