In the event that you aren't hip to too many sports blogs besides Deadspin (hey, we've all been there), you may have missed the story about Colorado Avalanche beat writer Adrian Dater's furious rant aimed at ESPN a couple days ago. It was picked up by a few big blogs like The Big Lead and AOL's Fanhouse with big assists to Avalanche blogs Dear Lord Stanley and Jibblescribbits. In case you missed it, here is my favorite excerpt:
Do you hear me, Ed Werder? Do you hear me, Rachel Nichols? Do you hear me, Chris Mortensen? Do you hear me, Marc Stein? Do you hear me, ESPN producer schmucks? You didn’t break JACK SQUAT. Some real journalist at a newspaper broke that story. You’re nothing more than a bunch of pathetic piggybackers, trying to fool that gullible sports audience out there - of which you have legions of the duped tuning in daily. Oh, and here’s a little shout out to guys like the Bill Simmonses of the world - guys who never did the real work of journalism but just love to sit from their on-high funnyman thrones and crack wise on the doings of those who could: Hey, I’m from New England - I AM YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC - and I’m even tired of your act. Thanks, Bill, for the 113th “column” on a Vegas trip last weekend. Hench, J-Bug, the line at McCarran, Seventh Circle of Hell, oh, it’s all so fresh and funny, my man. Yes it was, the first 23 times I read it.Look out below!
I'm not going to comment too much on the actual content of Dater's rant, which has since been removed from the Denver Post's website, and this is for two reasons: 1- it's already been done (and done well) on the aforementioned sites; and 2- you all already know that I agree.
(If you want to see the full archived article, Dear Lord Stanley had the prescience to make a JPG archive of the initial rant before it was taken down here -- if you use Firefox, click the magnifying glass.)
What I really can't get down with are the people who feel the need to slam Dater without really understanding what he's getting at. If you surf to the above link to The Big Lead's take on that and check out the comments section, it'll take you all of five minutes to be up to your armpits in people saying "Why is this guy getting so mad? What a loser, everyone knows this is what ESPN does."
Can we just step back here and take in this whole entire scenario? A guy like Adrian Dater, who has been a sterling example of everything a beat writer should be for the past 11 years, lashes out at ESPN, who has been notorious in recent years for stealing beat writers' scoops and claiming them as their own (see: ESPN & Stein stealing David Aldridge's scoop on the Iverson to Denver trade), and people are making Dater the villain because "that's what ESPN does"?!? SERIOUSLY?
This is a pretty sad commentary on what the consumer base for sports media has become: condoning plagiarism because it's become the norm. I think I just decided that I'm not even necessarily upset with ESPN anymore; I'm pissed off at the people that watch ESPN and let them get away with this crap. People need to start holding the WWL more responsible for their nonsense before Norby and his merry band of "piggybackers" really have to worry about changing their ways.
Think about it this way: you're in college and plagiarized a paper for a history class. Your professor catches you and instead of punishing you, gives you an A and simply remarks to his colleagues, "that's what kids do!" Why on earth would you not plagiarize every freaking paper you handed in to that prof?
That's exactly what these people are doing with ESPN: not only are they letting them slide on the plagiarism, they're rewarding them with ratings. Why should they stop?
What ESPN does with their lead thievery is highly unethical and should not be tolerated.
What can you do, though? Write a blog, email the ESPN.com ombudsman, get the word out, write an op-ed piece in your city's newspaper, flood Lake Buena Vista and Bristol with letters and emails, convince someone you know with a Nielsen box to turn off ESPN in May and November, whatever... but let people know ESPN's unethical practices don't sit well with you. As much as I hate to sound like a cliche motivational speaker, you the viewer have to be the engine for change.
Otherwise hard-working ass-busting beat writers like Adrian Dater will be the enemy while ESPN's wire-skimming producers get all their credit/plaudits. And that is not right, sports fans; it's a damn shame.