The ESPN Standards And Practices Manual Has Leaked
Deadspin has obtained a leaked copy of ESPN's Standards and Practices manual. Because ESPN is ESPN, and because they completely control the flow of information about sports, and because they continuously straddle the line between being a news organization and an entertainment company, the manual is worth a look.
The advertising portion of it seems particularly obsessed with condoms, mentioning no less than six different restrictions placed on ads for rubbers. In case you were wondering, condom commercials are not to be seen outside the hours between 9 PM and 4:59 AM, during programming believed to be targeting audiences age 17 and younger, and on the ESPN.com homepage, index pages, and pages for Little League, or the NCAA. Because the last thing we need is college students practicing safe sex.
ESPN's guidelines regarding whether or not their employees should include brand names in their stories is loosely worded.
Even if the mention appears to you to be innocuous, it will attract the close attention of the people behind that product or brand. This does NOT mean we keep brand names out of stories. It DOES mean that we must consider whether a brand name needs to be in a story. In most cases, it does not, and in fact should not.
So in other words, ESPN employees are allowed, but not encouraged to include brand names in stories. Not exactly a set-in-stone type of policy.
As far as ESPN's coverage of controversial matters, like the initial non-coverage of the Ben Roethlisberger civil suit that the company caught flack for a few years ago, the following sentence seems to stick out regarding ESPN's criteria for covering such matters:
Perhaps, most significantly, is the Associated Press reporting it?
This means that ESPN, the biggest sports media company on the planet, takes its news-breaking cues from somewhere that is not ESPN.
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