Don’t be mad at Adam Schefter, he’s not really a journalist anymore

It was a busy week. A few emails that were leaked and sued have provided some insight into how sports sausage is made. It is worth looking at the one in which ESPN Insider Adam Schefter sent a story to Bruce Allen, former Washington team president, before publication for approval. This is a deviation from standard journalistic practice.

The LA Times story:

Schefter asked for your feedback. Thank you, Mr. Editor, and for the trust. This will be filed to espn at 6 a.m.

ESPN has a response:

We believe that ESPN and Adam are more concerned about providing the best story possible, even if we don't share all of the details of how the reporter worked on a story 10 years ago.

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Although the story was about the complex negotiations that took place during the 2011 CBA deadlock, it is very long and Allen would not be able to see the entire story before publication.

Jon Gruden, a former Raiders coach, was also part of the network. He sent racist, homophobic, and misogynistic email to other NFL power-brokers.


These emails show how close there is between the NFL and sports networks. The NFL has been the dominant American league in sports coverage, with the highest ratings and most lucrative television contracts. ESPN charges the league approximately $2 billion per year for a package that includes Monday Night Football.

Although Schefter's work is important for ESPN, it is not always traditional journalism.


While there are still many excellent editors and journalists at ESPN, the network has reduced the fame journalism it once was known for by closing ESPN The Magazine and Sports Reporters and reducing the scope and size of the venerable Outside the Lines.

Commentary and access journalism have occupied the space, which are not threatening for its broadcast partners.


In many ways, ESPN is the hype man before the prize fight. It gets you ready for what's to come. The legal sports betting market is booming, making it more profitable than ever to report out teams and do information trading like Schefter.

There was once a clear line that defined what was acceptable for journalists to endorse and invest in. But ESPN seems to have changed its standards. Boom Entertainment is an online gambling app that Schefter invested in. Another investor is Bob Kraft, Patriots owner. Even though the network doesn't have Mr. Kraft, this is a more ethical issue. It has an Editor attached.


Schefter is not so much an insider, but a liaison. Although he has reported on major news stories, he does not do any investigative reporting. He cannot afford to lose league sources and needs the support of all 32 NFL teams if he is to continue breaking news across the league. Schefter has spoken to students twice and was open about his job and how it works. Although Schefter comes from a traditional reporting background he has created a new job description.

Schefter is a journalist as well as a trader of information, much like the New York gossip columnists. Who was there? How can access be traded?


Worse, Darren Rovell, a fellow ESPN reporter, doubled down on the practice. He tweeted: Give us a break. Although it isn't the best journalism practice, it was done in the name accuracy. Here's a screenshot (l.).


It is one thing to say that this is an exception as ESPN stated in its statement. But it's another to claim that all journalists do it.

Schefters email may have a catchy headline, but it does not address the systemic rot as Grudens.


Gruden's racist emails and acceptance of his ideas keep people from getting jobs as football media and football players. This makes it difficult for them to come out of their shell and has contributed to workplace harassment through trading of topless photos of employees.

It is also noteworthy that the emails of those who have not been published are not public. The Schefter email is not only embarrassing, but it also distracts from the main point. Given the NFL's formal investigation into workplace misconduct, Dan Snyders emails should be made public. ESPN should also examine the NFL group's VPs and producers to determine if Grudens thoughts were shared internally.


It is unlikely that Gruden will be mentioned in a discussion about a broadcast job than any other member of a group that he has denigrated.

The emails that the NFL has not released yet are what should cause us to pause. The NFL protected the Washington Football Team owner group and shielded them from any accountability. The league doesn't need to expose its biases, so ESPN will not be reporting that story.