ESPN has a Picture Problem


When athletes are under investigation for a crime, or even a victim of a situation, they are extensively covered by the sports media contingents nationwide; the largest of which happens to be ESPN.

Their flagship show, SportsCenter, always includes pictures of the athletes being talked about when an anchor is talking about that athlete.

The pictures are usually the generic team photo of the athlete, with them smiling while looking straight into the camera.

This was not the case for both Jonathan Martin, when he abruptly left the Dolphins, and for Jameis Winston, when he was under investigation for sexual assault.

In the case of Jonathan Martin, he was being played up as the victim of bullying by Richie Incognito. I am not delving into the situation as a whole, but rather the coverage of the situation. On ESPN, every time Martin was talked about they used a picture of him that could not have possibly been his team photo.

The photo shown was of Martin looking off to the side, with a sad look on his face. It almost seemed like the photo was designed to make Martin look like hopeless; to make him the clear victim.

This was not a good move by ESPN to do this, because it completed destroyed any sense of objectivity. If it comes down to changing pictures in order to sway opinions of viewers, that is not a respectable move.

Jameis Winston had his picture presented differently when he was under investigation for sexual assault. His new picture had him looking extremely unprofessional, and was once again not the generic team photo players take.

Remember, this is a nineteen-year-old kid we are talking about, and his image is being doctored in a blatant dismissal of objective reporting. Once again, no opinions are being offered on the case itself, but rather the expectation of objective reporting.

This practice of altering the presentation of athletes is often done by ESPN and even other outlets, and it becomes increasingly noticeable as it is done more and more.

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About The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project

The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project is a hub for teaching, research, and service related to sport media. The Project benefits students and faculty at Bowling Green State University, and offers outreach and media consulting to area and regional groups that work with student-athletes. Through collaborative efforts of the Sport Management program and the School of Media and Communication, BGSU students have the opportunity to learn such skills as sports writing, reporting, broadcasting, announcing, public relations, media relations, communication management and production. Faculty and other scholars have access to resources about the commercial and sociological aspects of sport.

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