The Poynter Review Project weighed in on ESPN’s use of the term “chink in the armor” in reports on NBA New York Knicks player Jeremy Lin.
The project consists of some Poynter faculty essentially serving as ombudsmen for ESPN. As we have written, ESPN apologized for three uses of the phrase in its coverage of Lin: once on air, once on the radio and once as a headline online. The writer of the online headline was fired over the incident.
The Poynter Review Project found that the online headline was “a lapse in judgment by an editor working without a net” and the on-air and on-radio incidents were “terribly timed slips of the tongue.” The project noted that “earlier in the week” of the three uses of the phrase, ESPN had addressed “racial sensitivity regarding the Lin storyline” both in an editorial meeting and in a memo.
While the Poynter Review Project agreed with the decision to fire online editor Anthony Federico for his headline, it found ESPN’s “30-day suspension of [Max] Bretos” for using the phrase in an on-air interview to be “too harsh.” The difference between the two uses and the reaction by ESPN is the “real time” nature of broadcast versus the ability to “step back and assess one’s work” for online.
Read the Poynter Review Project’s assessment of the incidents here.