Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bruce Willis dive-bombs ESPN's credibility

Out of all the things that make me queasy about this whole idea of a SportsCenter exclusively sponsored by Die Hard, here's one that I think might get overlooked, but speaks to a key issue at hand: the voiceover referring to "This EPISODE of SportsCenter." Not this edition of SportsCenter. Not this installment of SportsCenter. Not this evening's SportsCenter nor even simply this SportsCenter. Usually, the word episode describes a sitcom or a crime drama, a television program that is meant first and foremost to entertain. News and information programs aren't referred to in this manner, and so it seems like an indication that the primary purpose of SportsCenter is not to inform, but to entertain, which comes as no great shock.

But the show does attempt to retain some level of journalistic credibility in accurately reporting scores of games and the stories involving the athletes who play them. The show occasionally takes on larger issues, such as race, economics, and, as in tonight's "episode," the claims of retired NFL players that they are not fairly compensated for the damage to their health suffered while playing the game.

If SportsCenter wishes to cover these stories with a fair-minded and ethical approach, may I suggest they make more of an effort to assure viewers the information they're getting has not been pre-screened by movie producers who want to make sure it jibes with the tone of their promotional material.

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