ESPN issued a revised set of guidelines that covers its employees’ discussion of political issues “in any public-facing forum” today.
ESPN Public Editor Jim Brady posted a 1,400-word perspective of the new rules and explained the impact it will have on viewers.
“Related to political and social issues, our audiences should be confident our original reporting of news is not influenced by political pressures or personal agendas,” the guidelines read.
The biggest change centered around separating their”hard news” staff from the commentary talent, allowing greater freedom for the latter in regards to voicing a political stance. You’ll see their delineation in the document below.
Releasing the guidelines in April came as a surprise, but Brady blames the political climate.
“The timing of the release of the election guidelines is a bit unusual — such guidelines are rarely released right after a presidential election; they’re usually updated near the beginning of a presidential campaign,” Brady said. “But we are living in unique political times, which ESPN apparently recognized, which explains the revised guidelines for discussion of political and social issues.”
None of this is really groundbreaking. The guidelines are mostly what one would expect. Make sure original reporting is objective. Draw line from political commentary to relevant sports story. Got it.
The kicker in all of this will be how ESPN actually enforces these now clear standards if someone breaks them.