NewsTrack Week 3: ESPN’s Video Use and Misuse

Last week I talked about ESPN’s bias in headlines, and this week I want to talk about ESPN’s lack of professionalism, period.

Screenshot from Oct. 15
Screenshot from Oct. 15

This screenshot of the top video story on Thursday looks like it will be about baseball, NASCAR and basketball. What is it actually about? Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Football picks. Clicking on the link beneath the video takes the viewer to an article written by Matthew Berry. The article itself doesn’t have any news merit, but instead says (I apologize in advance for such a long quote):

And I’m not trying to be cute and say I asked him a question on Twitter or something. No, we had Kevin Durant on the Fantasy Focus podcast and spoke to him for about 12 minutes. It was pretty cool and I hope you’ll listen to it. Honestly, you don’t even have to listen to it. I won’t know. Just download it. All we care about are the clicks.

Welcome to the most name-droppy column of all time.

To make the cover of the video misleading disappointed me – news should be straightforward and not tease the viewer. The three faces in the picture are mentioned in the corresponding article, where Berry gets “name-droppy” and talks about celebrities who play Fantasy Football. After a lengthy monologue about himself getting to meet celebrities and how great Fantasy Football is at drawing everyone together, he finally gets to his picks. Granted, the headline of the article is about stars playing Fantasy, but it’s linked with a video about Fantasy picks. Berry needed to separate these into two different articles.

What also annoyed me was how it was set up: after the 1:41 video of his four of “Love” picks, the video “ends” unless the viewer stays on the page – then the second half, with his four “Hate” picks begins playing. At the end of that one, he never says to go online to see his full Love/Hate picks, as he only talks about eight players in the video.

Screenshot from Oct. 15
Screenshot from Oct. 15

However, I believe this video, though it was the top one on the page, was just an anomaly. They redeemed themselves when I scrolled down two videos and came to one about Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones. The link that was provided with that article actually did have some news merit, as it includes quotes from others about Freeman’s performance and from Freeman himself, and includes stats on how well he is doing: “he leads the league with 645 combined yards.”

I couldn’t find a story that should’ve used video, as ESPN includes a video clip with pretty much every story they put out, whether it be a clip of still photos with voiceover commentary, two commentators at a desk discussing a game, or clips of an actual game. Sports provides a lot of video content, so it makes sense that it would be hard to find a story that could’ve used video and didn’t.

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