Coach Leach and ESPN
Objective broadcast coverage is a necessity. When objectivity is sacrificed willingly by a news station, it is a problem. ESPN’s treatment of the Coach Leach controversy was not objective.
ESPN assigned Craig James to call the Alamo Bowl. His son, Adam, is a Red Raider football player who filed a complaint against Coach Leach. Coach Leach was relieved of his duties. The real reason behind his leave of duty has yet to be determined. However, James’ commentary suggested otherwise.
ESPN knew about the controversy, and still decided his Alamo Bowl assignment was a good idea. What were they thinking?
According to ESPN Ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer, ESPN has always allowed parents to call games their kids participated in, they didn’t think it was big deal. They believe familial coverage gives a “beyond the veil” look at the game. Get real. Most parents are not going to talk bad about their child, no matter what. This approach does nothing for the audience.
The station’s credibility is diminished when the audience is aware of their non- objective coverage. Viewer’s want a chance to draw their own conclusions based upon facts, not feelings. Individual announcers involved could be discredited by association. The audience and other news stations may chose not to follow their analysis of a game based upon their association Craig James and the station.
To safeguard confidences and ensure objectivity, the station could have assigned different analysts to the game. Analysts with no association to James or his son and those who were not directly involved in the pending case should have been considered.
In this case, ESPN used the Utilitarianism approach. They decided to allow James’ to cover the story believing this decision wouldn’t hurt anything. Sacrificing the reputation of Leach was the least of their concerns. The “behind the veil” commentary was more important than maintaining objective coverage.
ESPN was wrong. Viewers were affected by their decision and promptly voiced their disappointment. Objectivity in coverage should never be exchanged for another perspective.