Ombudsman Tackles Taylor Coverage And Cowherd

Many of you probably have already seen the lastest entry from our friend the ESPN Ombudsman Ms. Schrieber, but if you haven’t it’s a must read. This is by far the best account of the perils that ESPN deals with in regards to reporting and it’s an eye opening piece into race relations regarding athletes. I still think ESPN’s coverage was deplorable, but it’s not like they were the only ones who did a bad job.

As far as Cowherd, well what can you say? I think the Ombudsman sums it up best, and I’m going to do my best to keep his name of these pages. He doesn’t even deserve the attention.

With the notable exception of ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd, ESPN’s commentators did better than many in the mainstream media at reining in the impulse to speculate, pontificate and prematurely assign responsibility for Taylor’s death. Cowherd, however, trusted his “gut feeling” to guide him to “the truth.” His gut told him that Taylor’s “history of really, really bad judgment, really really bad judgment” had caught up with him, and even if the emerging reports that Taylor had “cleaned up his act” were true, “Well, yeah, just because you clean the rug doesn’t mean you got everything out. Sometimes you’ve got stains, stuff so deep it never ever leaves.”

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Most other ESPN commentators seemed to understand that when it comes to race, crime and sports, the last source to be trusted is one’s gut, which tends to be lined with bilious stereotypes and prejudices. Some commentators, including Michael Wilbon of “Pardon The Interruption,” admitted to not being surprised by the shooting, of suspecting a link to Taylor’s past associates or enemies, but they aired their presumptions tentatively, with sadness or anger at the “senseless death” of yet another young black man, not in the gloating, know-it-all voice that many of Cowherd’s listeners called “appalling” and “indecent” in their e-mails to me.

Well said. Hopefully media personalities can learn from this and not be so quick to judge. It’s tough to wait for the facts and I wasn’t very patient, but knee jerk reactions never put you in a good place. It’s not about being right or wrong or making the story about yourself.

Proportion, perspective missing ingredients in news coverage (ESPN Ombudsman)

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