ESPN's Adam Schefter admits taking 'a step too far' in emails with ex-WFT president
ESPN's top NFL reporter Adam Schefter responded after becoming embroiled in the growing controversy surrounding Washington Football team emails.
An email exchange between Schefter and former Washington Football Team President Bruce Allen was published by the Los Angeles Times and later received by Yahoo Sports on Tuesday that marked a major journalistic transgression of one of the biggest names in the NFL media revealed.
While the NFL and NFLPA were negotiating a new collective agreement in 2011, Schefter sent Allen a full draft of a story to be released the next morning. He also referred to Allen as "Mr. Editor" and welcomed him to suggest changes:
"Please let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, or tweaked," Schefter wrote to Allen. "Thank you, Mr. Editor, for that and for your trust. Plan to hand this in around 6:00 in the morning."
A day after the email was posted, ESPN released a statement attributed to Schefter, apologizing for what it called "going too far" to verify the facts of a complex story. While Schefter emphasized that nobody but himself had editorial control over his stories, he admitted the criticism of him.
Scheter's full statement:
"Fair questions are asked about my approach to reporting an NFL lockout story from 10 years ago. Just for the sake of clarity, it is common practice to source-check the facts of a story to be as specific as possible before posting it. In In this case, I dared to take the rare step of sending the whole story in advance because of the complexity of the collective bargaining negotiations, that was a step too far and, in retrospect, I shouldn't have taken it, the criticism is justified. Against this background, I would like to make this very clear : I do not have or would in any way relinquish editorial control or give the final say on a story to anyone. "
Schefter is right that the common practice in journalism is to double-check the facts of a story with a source or someone involved in the story, but it is generally frowned upon to allow a page to suggest changes to an entire article as Schefter admits. And referring to any of your sources as your editor is definitely frowned upon, though it's hard to imagine that Schefter wasn't kidding.
ESPN had already responded to reports about Schefter in a statement to the Times and declined to go into the details of the reporter's process while he stood by his integrity as a journalist:
"Without giving full details of the reporting process for a story from 10 years ago during the NFL Ineligibility, we believe nothing is more important to Adam and ESPN than providing fans with the most accurate, fair, and complete story."
These two statements from ESPN appear to be the only confirmation the email receives from Schefter's corner. The reporter's own Twitter feed worked as usual on Wednesday afternoon, and he hadn't even retweeted the statement attributed to him by ESPN an hour after it was published.
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