ESPN’s attribution process for television

ESPN's Lindsay Czarniak (L) and Kevin Negandhi. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

ESPN’s Lindsay Czarniak (L) and Kevin Negandhi. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

ESPN has always strived to properly acknowledge where and from whom news stories originate. The company constantly reviews procedures and processes to keep up with the ever-changing media landscape and the revisions that follow are a reflection of that steadfast commitment.

“Attribution has been and remains vital to our users,” said ESPN Senior Vice President and Director of News, Vince Doria. “The context of where information comes from helps further establish the trust we have built in 33-plus years. These guidelines are part of our ongoing commitment to being as clear as we can in providing fans with the latest and most accurate information.”

Among the areas we have addressed with our most recent review is how we present, specifically in graphics, those stories that have been independently reported by our staff in addition to outside entities.

Below is an overview of ESPN’s approach to attribution on TV under the new guidelines.

News from ESPN reporter(s): “ESPN Report”
• We will use our reporters’ names or “ESPN Report:” for breaking news in scripts, on BottomLine and in graphics.

For example, BottomLine and anchor readers would say: “Vikings sign QB Matt Cassel to one-year, $4 million contract, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.” The Topic Bar Header would be “ESPN Report,” while the body of the bar would read, “Vikings sign QB Matt Cassel to one-year, $4 million contract.”

News from outside entities: “Media Report” or “Media Reports”
• We will use the name of the entity where we obtained the information in scripts, on BottomLine, and, where possible, in graphics. We will only use “Report” in graphics if the name of the entity is too long.

For example, BottomLine and anchor readers would say: “The Ravens will meet with former Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil, the Baltimore Sun reports.” The Topic Bar Header would be “Media Report,” while the body of the bar would read, “Baltimore Sun: Ravens to meet with former Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil.”

News from ESPN sources AND outside entities: “ESPN & Media Reports”
• When crediting a story that is being reported by ESPN sources and outside entities, we will credit “ESPN & Media Reports” in graphics. BottomLine and anchor readers will give the names of the specific ESPN reporter(s) and outside entity reporting the story.

For example, BottomLine and anchor readers would say, “Greg Jennings agrees to five-year deal with Vikings, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and a report by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.” The Topic Bar Header would be “ESPN & Media Reports” and the body of the bar would read, “Greg Jennings agrees to five-year deal with Vikings.”

In the current environment of blogs and Twitter, it is often difficult to know definitively who was first to report a story, but it is still important to acknowledge how we initially became aware of that news. So, with a few exceptions, scripts and BottomLine entries will state the news was “earlier reported by” or “previously reported by,” rather than “first reported by,” that ESPN reporter or outside entity. It will be at the discretion of the news desk to determine when and for how long a story warrants this treatment on television.

NOTE: This is a brief look at key points. Further specifics are shared internally in daily production communications.