NewsTrack Week 4: Worldwide Leader in Sports (and other things)

When a user goes to ESPN, the tab shows ESPN’s title: “The Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 4.07.27 PM

They stick to this. Typically, the only news they share are opinions on a game, scores, player’s performances, trades, and anything related to the actual playing of a sport.

So it caught my eye today when I clicked to ESPN and saw a story about the car crash at Oklahoma State’s homecoming parade that killed three and injured 22. Though listed under “Top Headlines,” it still isn’t the featured video story. It only happened to be at the top of the page when I clicked on the site. Within three minutes, another story bumped the video on the right down a notch. Within 10 minutes, it was six stories deep.

Screenshot on Oct. 24
Screenshot from Oct. 24

I’m not surprised how quickly it was buried in other news – ESPN updates a lot. However, it’s odd to me that they would cover this at all. I’m glad they are, because it’s definitely something newsworthy, but it wasn’t anything that falls in ESPN’s normal realm of news. It was a homecoming parade, not game. The game wasn’t even canceled (which, wow, what would make you cancel it? if five had died? 15?). “Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis said there had been discussion about canceling the homecoming game Saturday afternoon against Kansas but that it would be played. The victims were expected to be remembered with a moment of silence.” So why cover it? There is a very thin tie to sports in this story.

ESPN also has very limited coverage of something that has a little more to do with sports – the Fantasy Football scandal. They published a few stories about it on Oct. 21, as seen if one searches “FanDuel.”

Screenshot from Oct. 24
Screenshot from Oct. 24

For those who don’t know, FanDuel and DraftKings are involved in a Fantasy Football scandal that can almost be equated to insider-trading. Though ESPN hosts their own Fantasy Football competition, they would not necessarily be affected by any regulations that result from the lawsuit with FanDuel and DraftKings.

FanDuel and DraftKings are both Fantasy Football sites, so one would expect when “Fantasy Football” is searched, the same stories would show up. I can’t fit all the results in a single screenshot, but the same stories, posted on Oct. 21 about the Fantasy Football scandal do not show up when one searches “Fantasy Football” on ESPN’s site. As seen in the screenshot, the stories go from Oct. 21 to Oct. 20.

Screenshot from Oct. 24
Screenshot from Oct. 24

My guess is that ESPN doesn’t want the reader typing in Fantasy Football and redirecting them to another Fantasy Football site, or they are simply catering to their audience – because ESPN is not known for news other than what happens in sports, they know that readers are likely not searching for news about the scandal on their site. Still, to not include a story about Fantasy Football in the results for a search about Fantasy Football is very weird.

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