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What did Adam Schefter’s email say?  Why NFL Insider Reported Email Situation is a Big Issue


But his emails.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden resigned following a whopping 650,000 emails generated by an investigation into the Washington football team, which included racist, homophobic and sexist remarks.

MORE: Jon Gruden’s Email Situation Explained

The emails, however, would not end with Gruden’s controversial words: on Tuesday it was revealed that ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter is the latest to be in the controversial spotlight as he allegedly sent a story unpublished to a former executive of the Washington football team. , which is a very big and serious violation of the ethics of journalism.

Here is what happened :

What did Adam Schefter do?

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter sent an untold story about the 2011 NFL lockout to former Washington football president Bruce Allen, according to the LA Times. The emails were discovered in connection with an ongoing libel lawsuit between Allen and Washington owner Dan Snyder and led to Jon Gruden’s re-appointment as Raiders head coach.

Schefter reportedly emailed an unpublished story to Allen asking if there was anything in his unpublished story that needed to be changed. Schefter also called Allen “Mr. Editor”.

“Please let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, tweaked,” Schefter reportedly wrote. “Thank you, Mr. Editor, for that and the trust. Plan to drop this off at espn around 6 am…”

ESPN’s brass responded to the story with a statement:

“Without sharing all the details of the reporter process for a story from 10 years ago during the NFL lockdown, we believe nothing is more important to Adam and ESPN than providing fans with the most story. precise, fair and complete. “

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk adds emails became relevant because Allen said he “keeps a low profile on the media” and “never served as an anonymous source for news or media reports “.

Schefter commented on the story on Wednesday:

I have learned for a long time in this field not to discuss the sources, the process or the way stories are made. But I would just say that it is common practice to use past sources of information. And in this particular case, during a labor intensive lockout, it was a complicated subject that he was new to understand. I took the very rare step of passing information on to one of the people I was talking to. You know, that was an important story for the fans; a host of others, and that’s the situation.

Running information from a source to verify its veracity is, in fact, common practice (we’ll get to that later), but sending an entire, unpublished, raw story to a source, is not.

Why Adam Schefter’s Emails Are Really Important

To the untrained eye, Schefter’s process may seem like a non-problem. In reality, however, this is a major violation of journalistic processes and independent reporting.

Journalism, contrary to recent popular belief, is actually backed by serious ethical standards that journalism students spend tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to learn about. The teachers spend hours nausea explaining the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics to students looking to break into the world of journalism, while most journalists, insiders, and reporters follow these rules to the letter.

In a good way, in layman’s terms: Sending an unpublished story to a source is a major no-no in journalism. This allows the source (s) to modify a story, potentially adds bias and, most importantly, removes the “independent” from “independent reporting”.

There’s also the added problem that Schefter is asking executives and management for comment, which in a history of a labor dispute against players is not fair, balanced, or impartial.

While Schefter does not inherently have to accept “edits” made by Allen (or any other source), asking the source for “adjustments” is already a violation of the journalistic process. There is nothing wrong with checking with a source for a claim about a quote or the correctness of a passage – in fact, it is encouraged. Trust but check, and all.

Asking a source for edits or approval of a story goes directly against the idea of ​​”special interests” and of acting independently and without favor as a journalist. This poses problems with regard to the credibility of a journalist or writer, and raises questions on the agenda, when in reality journalists should (the key word here is “should”) play. stories in the middle.

To make matters worse, the story would have surrounded the 2011 NFL lockout, which is a bit more important than trying to get the scoop on the injured hamstrings of a player entering a game. benign week 7.

Full Disclosure (as one of the guidelines in the SPJ’s Code of Ethics): As a graduate of the School of Journalism and Information at Rutgers University and a part-time lecturer at the school is something that is explicitly taught to students on their way to graduation, and something journalists follow throughout their careers.

The first lesson is free, folks.


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