By AUSTEN GREGERSON
I, as presumably many people do, use ESPN as my source for sports news. I don’t mean that I go to ESPN, then check out my team’s personal web page, then only to go look at SI.com and Fox Sports to see what else I can find. I log on to my computer, look around ESPN.com, then shut the computer off. It is easily the dominant source I use for sports.
The problem with this practice of news gathering is glaring. Without checking multiple sources, how am I to know that ESPN hasn’t been fooling me the entire time, or at the very least slanting the truth? Trust is a good thing to have with a news source brand, but too much of it puts the reader at a drastic disadvantage for the truth. And what about just going to other websites, like SI.com? Often times they both use the same information from the Associated Press, so the only differences in the story would be what pop-up ads appear along side it.
But all is not lost: over the past few years, a few “mainstream” sports blogs have gained enough of a reputation to take legitimate shots at the giants of the medium. While usually not adhering to the same journalistic codes as the newspapers or TV channels, most mainstream sports blogs serve a crucial role as an independent and vocal watchdog to keep the ESPNs of the world in check. Sometimes their work is of serious concern for the public, like calling B.S. on a network for a conflict of interest. But admittedly, most of the time blogs like Deadspin or TheBigLead will spread around the latest sex scandal gossip to come out of Bristol, Conn.
It may be the intention of one or more of these sites to one day overtake the establishment, but that seems hardly likely. Without even confronting the problems of infrastructure, capital, or reliability, it seems far-fetched to think Deadspin will kill off ESPN, when even ESPN couldn’t kill off sports on broadcast television. That being said, the niche of sports media is a big one to be filled, and through everything we’ve seen this far, the future role of the independently-minded mainstream sports blog will be a noteworthy one.