Chat with ESPN Senior VP Vince Doria
Vince Doria, ESPN's senior vice president and director of news, will be stopping by Monday to take your questions.
Doria will discuss the network's approach to editorial coverage and take your questions about specific content topics. This is a part of regular ESPN.com chats with editorial decision-makers at ESPN, and coincides with the introduction of formalized Editorial Guidelines for Standards and Practices at the network. These chats offer viewers and readers the chance to connect directly with those involved in ESPN's coverage.
Send your questions now and join Doria Monday at noon ET!
Vince Doria (12:00 PM)
Hi everyone, welcome to the chat
Steven Davis (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
I'm always interested when I hear reports about "sources" or something a reporter has been "told" or is "hearing." Why can't you just tell us who the source is? And how do you know the person who is the source has the right information?
Vince Doria (12:04 PM)
Of course, we would very much prefer to identify sources by name. But the reality is, a lot information comes to us from legitimate sources who, for a variety of reasons, prefer to remain anonymous. It's our job to determine the credibility of those sources and make a judgment on the validity of their information. When possible, we do attempt to characterize them in some way -- someone who works on a staff of a certain team, for example -- in order to at least give the viewer a sense of the source's connection to the story.
Can you please explain why you do not allow your employees to be interviewed on WFAN, but are more than happy to have CBS employees on your radio shows?
Vince Doria (12:07 PM)
ESPN Radio is syndicated in hundreds of cities, including four owned-and-operated stations. These stations are in direct competition with other stations in those areas. We came to the conclusion a few years ago that it was not in our best interest to have our people appearing on stations that were in direct competion with ESPN affiliates or owned stations. Pure and simple, a business decision. As to people from other outlets appearing on our stations, it's up to those outlets to determine if they allow their people to do so. In some cases, outlets see promotional value in allowing their people to appear on ESPN Radio. On our end, we determined that in most cases the value our people bring to another station would outweigh the promotional value in having them appear.
C.J. (San Diego)
How does Outside the Lines pick their special report topics?
Vince Doria (12:12 PM)
We try to strike a balance between topical subjects in the news and stories that we believe are less obvious, but of some value on the sports landscape. OTL is one of the platforms that allows us to go into depth on a story, moreso than SportsCenter or many of other shows. Consequently, we're looking for stories that suggest the sort of depth that has become representative of that show -- for example, for several years, OTL has delved heavily into the concussion issue. Along with the New York Times, we were one of the few outlets to pay that issue in-depth attention. Those are the types of stories that distinguish OTL.
Ted Crowley (Midwest)
Has Twitter given you more headaches or happy thoughts?
Vince Doria (12:13 PM)
Vince Doria (12:17 PM)
Seriously, no doubt social networking has contributed to the immediacy and volume of reaction to news stories. That's probably a good thing. The difficulty we're experiencing, as is with most other news outlets, is that fact that reporters are often disseminating information without putting it through the vetting process that we have in place. We have policies to deal with this, but trying to enforce that policy consistently among the large number of news gatherers at ESPN has proven to be a challenge. But we continue to address it, and understand and embrace the fact that social networking has become part of the newsgathering process and will likely play an increasingly influential role moving forward.
Andy Barksdale (Springfied, MA)
Vince, I understand you used to work at the Boston Globe. Given that background, what do you think about the ESPN.com site in Boston? What impact does that have on local newspapers?
Vince Doria (12:20 PM)
We've launched five local Web sites inthe last 18 months because we felt that local sports was a fertile ground for us. I think the ESPNBoston.com has done a terrific job in covering the big stories in the area, and that's what we set out to do. There's no doubt we are creating competition for the Globe, the Herald and other papers in the area. When I worked for the Globe, I welcomed competition because I thought it made us better. I assume the people working up there now feel the same way.
Eric Stiemsma (Bolingbrook, Illinois)
Do you think journalism has changed since the Internet, and what will the world be like without newspapers? I feel like that is going to happen, and wonder if you think that's good for society.
Vince Doria (12:25 PM)
Prior to the Internet, there were a few gatekeepers who controlled the flow of news and information -- newspapers, TV networks, radio. The Internet obviously allows anybody to disseminate news, information, gossip, rumors, etc. It has clearly had an impact on newspapers, which by in large have lost both circulation and advertising. The Internet has brought the pressure of immmediacy to newsgathering operations, but it has also allowed standardd to somewhat deteriorate. It may be that we are going through a period of time, as the Internet space evolves, that will ultimately lead to better, more credible information being distributed more quickly than was the case with the newspaper model. But for now, I think it's a constant struggle for not only newspapers, but mainstream news operations (including ESPN) to maintain the standards that have been prevalent in this business for many years.
Marc (Malden, MA)
When evaluating the performance of reporters, do you place more emphasis on them being the first to report stories or the accuracy of those stories? How much pressure does ESPN put on them to be the first to report something, even if there isn't total confirmation?
Vince Doria (12:30 PM)
Accuracy is always the most important criteria. Of course, we like to be first on stories. For anyone who has worked in the journalism industy for 40 years, it's part of your DNA to want to be first. But the reality of the Internet age is that once a story is reported, everybody has it in a matter of minutes. At that point, the depth of your reporting, the quality of analysis and the degree of insight to your commentary grow in importance. As long as I'm here, we're always going to want to be first. But down the road, I'm not sure if it will carry the same value that it traditionally has.
SteveFitz (Chicago, IL)
The Morning Buzz is the best thing since sliced bread. The people have spoken, buzzmaster deserves a pay raise, corner office and front door parking spot.
Vince Doria (12:32 PM)
I certainly agree. It's been a great addition, and to some degree, sets the agenda for what we're going to pay attention to during the day.
Archie Stanton (Tucson)
Mr. Doria. I heard Bill Simmons say last week that he always loved The National newspaper. Why didn't that take off, and would it be different it happened today? I just remeber there were great writers involved.
Vince Doria (12:35 PM)
Having worked at The National, I bring a certain bias to this answer by noting that I believe the editorial product was as good as anything the industy has produced over the years. However, the rest of the plan -- how to print it and distribute it in timely fashion -- unfortunately escaped us, and consequently led to the failure of the newspaper. As a print product, I don't think it would work today. As an online product, I say it is ESPN.com.
Gas Grill or Charcoal?
Vince Doria (12:35 PM)
Gas, but full disclosure, my wife is the griller in the family. She knows how to operate the gas grill.
SteveFitz (Chicago, IL)
How do you respond to those who say ESPN is nothing but an "Eastcoast Sports Programming Network" that favors or tilts toward everything NY or Boston?
Vince Doria (12:38 PM)
Obviously, we try very hard not to be biased. Over the years, it is apparent that when you work in an area -- as we do on the East Coast -- you are afforded greater exposure to the local teams. We try very hard to be aware of that fact. Relocating the late SportsCenter to Los Angeles a few years sgo, for example, was an effort to help address that concern. We do find that from a TV ratings standpoint, the most popular East Coast teams -- Yankees, Red Sox, etc. -- fare well around the country and often on the West Coast, out-rate teams from California on our baseball broadcasts.
How does ESPN attempt to avoid looking biased when they have large television contracts with leagues?
Vince Doria (12:41 PM)
This question comes up often. If you ask any of our partners -- NFL, MLB, NBA, etc. -- if they feel our newsgatherigng operation is biased in their favor, they would probably throw you out of the office. Anyone who assesses our body of work over the years will find hundreds, if not thousands, of tough reporting on our business partners, often exposing areas of wrongdoing. This is the best evidence I can offer that we cover our business partners with the same objectivy that we would cover any other entity.
ESPN is often accused of stealing information from other sources. What are your attribution policies?
Vince Doria (12:46 PM)
Anyone who watches SportsCenter, The Bottome Line or reads ESPN.com will note that we regularly credit other media outlets. Typically, when a number of media outlets are reporting a news story without naming sources, we will use the general attribution of "sources have reported." This at times has led other media outlets to ask why we are not attributing the story to them directly. The answer has been that we have seen a number of outlets reporting it, as well.
Your reporters often contridict each other within in a matter of hours. This happened a lot during the Carmelo Anthony coverage. Do they talk to each other? How is that handled?
Vince Doria (12:52 PM)
We have a number of very aggressive reporters at ESPN who have a variety of sources. We try to take all of the information they are gathering and present the most accurate version. Sometimes, that version might be that sourc "X" is telling one reporter a certain set of facts, and source "Y" might tell another reporter facts that differ. If we believe there is likely to be credibility to one of these reports, or possibly both depending on the information, we will try to make that clear to the viewer by noting that different sources are giving us differnt versions of the story. Another occurence that is more frequent in the Internet age is that stories often change. As we we try to bring immediacy to the reporting of those stories, we have to report those changes. The alternative is to holf off reporting anything until we have absolutely certainty ... and in most cases, we don't think that would be best serving our viewers and readers.
Vince Doria (12:53 PM)
The substance of a story plays an important role in these decisions. Trade stories, for instance, are often subject to change. While we want to be accurate on these stories, we can only report what we believe the status of those trades to be at any given time. Other stories of potentially more serious content -- criminal allegations, death, etc. -- are typically reported with a greater degree of caution, given the potential impact.
Something that bothers me is when I see on the bottom line " ESPN's (insert reporter) has confirmed that so and so has been traded"....I dont see why you do that, its reeks of arrogance. Just please give us the person who first reported it ( like Ken Rosenthal in baseball) instead of telling us that Jayson Stark confirmed it. It happens all the time
Vince Doria (12:59 PM)
In cases such as your example, the original reports are generally attributed to anonymous sources (regardless of the media outlet reporting the story). All we can do intially is pass along the information as attributed to a source -- a source not known to us. When we have that information confirmed to us by a source we know, we will generally alert viewers by saying "ESPN has confirmed the story." We understand how this can at times appear to be arrogant -- not a true story until ESPN has reported. We feel, however, that this is a signal to our viewers that we now have now found our own source on the story and makes us more comfortable with the credibility of the story.
Haley T. (Dallas)
do you have a bias against certain teams, especially if they announcers used to play for or coach them? like how can mike ditka talk fairly about the bears, or digger phelps talk about notre dame?
Vince Doria (1:05 PM)
We hire analysts for their expertise. Of course, all of them have played or coached, in some cases, for a number of teams. To exclude them from commenting on those teams would not allow us to fully leverage their value. In fact, in many cases, they may bring a certain insight to a team they played for or coached that others would not. All of these analysts appear with full transparency. Our viewers know where they played or coached, and can make reasonable a judgment about the credibility of what they say. The bottom line is that we believe our analysts are able to make fair assessments, regardless of where they played or coached.
Vince Doria (1:05 PM)
That's it for today. Thanks for all of your questions.