ESPN has made some tweaks to its attribution policy to better serve fans in the ever-changing world of sports news. The adjustments mostly center around the way ESPN graphically presents breaking news information, along with the associated outlet(s) on-screen. It will also impact the ways stories appear on-line and/or are read on-air.
Overall, the approach is designed to enhance the viewer experience by clarifying and prioritizing.
“Regularly revisiting and updating our attribution policy is by design a never-ending process, one that appropriately reflects the concurrent evolution of the sports news business and fan expectations,” said ESPN Vice President and Director of News Craig Bengtson.
Among the notable modifications is the re-sizing and rearranging of the on-screen information to highlight the news itself in a bigger font on the top line above the attribution line; like this:
“Sports fans want to know the actual news first and foremost,” Bengtson said. “These graphic changes will emphasize that information, while still recognizing the important journalistic obligation to provide credit to the appropriate outlet or outlets.”
Additional graphic examples below highlight other tweaks:
The use of “first reported by” on screen is the way to identify an outlet that originally broke a story, prior to an official confirmation/announcement. (NOTE: If ESPN confirms the story, the graphic would remain the same, while the on-line story text and the on-air reading of the news by an anchor would include “first reported by (media outlet) and confirmed by ESPN”).
The term “multiple reports” will be incorporated in situations when more than one external outlet breaks a story at the same, basic time.
Bengtson emphasized that while the attribution policy can never be perfect, it’s an extremely important element of newsgathering.
“Social media and the related emphasis on immediacy have clearly changed the game for all news organizations and for consumers,” he said. “We will continue to be diligent about presenting the news in context with proper attribution, and most importantly, we will constantly explore ways to re-invent and enhance this critical policy in the future.”