attends ESPN The Party on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California.

ESPN’s policy to credit or in some high-profile cases, not to credit reporters on breaking stories has been a sore spot. Whether it’s not naming the source of breaking news and using the silly “media reports” or just not crediting at all, or “ESPN confirms media reports” the whole issue has made the Worldwide Leader look petty.

But now, ESPN has issued new guidelines that will credit breaking news to outside sources and what it hopes will put an end to the sourcing controversy. Sports Business Daily’s John Ourand reports that the new policy went into effect today:

“…ESPN will put “according to” a specific media outlet on stories that it has not confirmed. Once confirmed by ESPN, the Bristol-based company will state, “The story was first reported by [a specific media company] and confirmed by ESPN.” ESPN will use “according to multiple reports” on stories that are broken at the same time.”

ESPN Vice President and Director of News Craig Bengston said the new policy was necessary in this 24-hour sports news cycle:

“Regularly revisiting and updating our attribution policy is by design a never-ending process, one that appropriately reflects the concurrent evolution of the sports news business and fan expectations.”

So when there is a story that is broken by an outside source, ESPN will create a banner that will report the story and give a credit in small print to the original source:


When ESPN confirms the story through its insiders, there will be a banner that looks like this:


It’s good that ESPN has clarified its policy, but this should have been in place from the beginning. To go with “sources” or “media reports” was not only lazy, but also insulting to viewers. With Twitter and other platforms, fans know where the story was first reported and for ESPN not to acknowledge that was not good for the network. But with the new guidelines in place, ESPN hopes to end the attribution controversy and bring them some respect.

[Sports Business Daily/ESPN]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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