Journalism Showcase

ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – October 28, 2016


Part of what makes ESPN’s coverage of the World Series stand out is that while there are a variety of avowed fans of both teams as well as former players who are contributing across multiple platforms, they are still dedicated to bringing viewers the most balanced coverage.

Staying objective in the reporting is easy. What happened, happened, and I can easily separate analyzing what actually happened from what I wish happened. That said, it’s easier to report it when the results are favorable.
– Jay Crawford, SportsCenter anchor, Cleveland sports fan

For SportsCenter anchor and vocal Cleveland Indians fan Jay Crawford, finding a way to separate his fandom from his role as a reporter has been easy, especially when the results are in his favor.

“Staying objective in the reporting is easy. What happened, happened, and I can easily separate analyzing what actually happened from what I wish happened,” said Crawford. “That said, it’s easier to report it when the results are favorable.”

Both MLB analysts Rick Sutcliffe and Doug Glanville played for the Cubs, which is an advantage when it comes to analyzing the team with an insider perspective; however, they have to work a little bit harder to make sure their audience understands they’re still offering an objective analysis.

“It is challenging to make sure the audience understands that despite that history, you can remain impartial, that even with your connection, you can objectively analyze the bigger picture,” Glanville said. “In the end, we all have history, but I love baseball and that is bigger than one team.”

Sutcliffe knows he wouldn’t be in the position he is today if he didn’t remain impartial.

“It doesn’t come off that way in the telecast [his love for the Cubs] or my bosses wouldn’t allow me to do those games,” he said. “I did a lot of Chicago Cubs baseball games this year and I think the reason I was chosen was because I’m going to be objective.”

For others like espnW reporter and ESPN Radio host Sarah Spain, her fandom is so well-known that therein lies her biggest challenge.

“The toughest part about covering a team I’m a fan of is probably the fact that my fandom is so widely publicized and publicly known,” Spain said. “When my team stumbles, I’m an easy target and really hear it from people on social media. But that’s a small price to pay to get to be a part of the Cubs’ run, not just in the stands cheering but on the field, too.”

The challenge is that I’m a fan, a lunatic. I’ve been a fanatic since I was five years old. I’m not anywhere near objective.
– Michael Wilbon, PTI co-host, Chicago sports fan

Another Chicago native, SportsCenter reporter Michele Steele, recently left Boston – where she was covering Tom Brady’s return from an NFL suspension to quarterback the New England Patriots. Now in the Windy City, she views covering the Cubs as an incredible assignment but being a fan doesn’t distract her from doing the job she loves.

“As a native Chicagoan, I feel I can finally use the phrase ‘living the dream’ un-ironically. It still feels so, so surreal,” she said. “As a reporter, to go from the biggest story in the NFL to the biggest story in sports in the last century – you couldn’t ask for a better and richer set of assignments.”

Pardon the Interruption co-host Michael Wilbon has a unique opportunity to embrace his fandom and not worry about being objective since he’s not reporting on the team.

“I’m 57 years old…not even if you were 50 years older than me could you have seen the Cubs in the World Series,” Wilbon said. “So, every pitch is nerve-racking and it’s the most anxiety I’ve ever felt watching anything. The challenge is that I’m a fan, a lunatic. I’ve been a fanatic since I was five years old. I’m not anywhere near objective.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s coverage of World Series Game 3: Cleveland Indians at Chicago Cubs on Friday features Baseball Tonight pregame coverage airing from Wrigley Field (5 p.m. ET, ESPN2); SportsCenter on the Road at 6 p.m. ET; and ESPN Radio’s Game 3 broadcast beginning at 8 p.m. For more on ESPN’s World Series coverage, visit ESPN MediaZone.

SportsCenter’s Jay Crawford experiences Cleveland as both a fan and a reporter

Jay Crawford has been waiting all his life for a Cleveland Indians World Series as a fan, and now he’s covering the historic event with co-anchor Sage Steele as part of SportsCenter On the Road.

“To be in Cleveland for the most incredible time in the city’s sports history has been among the highlights of my 29-year career,” he said.

Crawford and Steele broadcasted SportsCenter from 4th Street in Cleveland on Tuesday and will be in Chicago for game three tonight.

“Tuesday night, when the Cavaliers got their rings and the Indians won Game 1 of the World Series, will probably go down as the single biggest night in Cleveland sports history,” said Crawford. “To be in the middle of it hosting SportsCenter from Progressive Field and 4th Street was just amazing.”

What makes SportsCenter on the Road a great experience for Crawford is the opportunity to engage with other fans.

“The most exciting thing about covering the team I’ve loved since I was five is getting to experience up close the action and excitement of my team in the World Series,” he said. “Getting to share with the fans of the Indians the highs, and even the lows, through the course of the postseason has been exhilarating.”

Being an Indians fan has helped Crawford understand the Cub fans perspectives as well since both teams are starving for a championship.

“I feel in-tune to Cubs fans because I can relate to their pain and suffering,” he said.

At the end of the day being a sports reporter is about serving the fans, no matter what side they’re on.

“Trying to find that fine line of measured passion and objectivity can be difficult,” Crawford said. “I try hard to contain my fandom because I am very well aware there is another tortured franchise on the other side that doesn’t appreciate a one-sided approach.”

SportsCenter on the Road will be live from Chicago for Games 3 and 4 this weekend.

By Molly Mita

Journalism on Display

  • A former member of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team filed a civil lawsuit Thursday against Dr. Larry Nassar in California Superior Court, claiming the long-time team doctor for USA Gymnastics sexually assaulted her during medical exams and that the legendary former coaches, Bela and Marta Karolyi, failed to protect her and engaged in their own pattern of physical and emotional abuse. Reporter John Barr broke the story on and appeared on Outside the Lines to discuss.
  • In recent years the number of white American NBA players has decreased and now they’re talking about what it’s like to be the minority. Marc. J. Spears tells the story in “Where are all the White American NBA Players?” on The The story features interviews with various white American players in the league including J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson, Chandler Parsons and more.
  • Most NBA players don’t know who Tyler Johnson is. Some NBA teams have no idea who Tyler Johnson is. Yet he signed a $50 million deal this offseason to stay with the Miami Heat. ESPN The Magazine’s Pablo Torre tells the story of how Johnson became the NBA’s unlikeliest $50 million man and discusses why this contract will test the barometric pressure of the upcoming CBA negotiations.
  • Panelists on Sunday morning’s The Sports Reporters (8:30 a.m.,10 a.m., ESPNEWS) will be Mike Lupica (host), Ashley Fox, William C. Rhoden, and Tom Waddle.

By Molly Mita

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