The next time people who work for ESPN claim that the company is dedicated to sports journalism, feel free to laugh at them.
At tonight's NFL draft, ESPN's NFL reporter/transactional scoop machine/member of the elite sports media Adam Schefter was not allowed to do his job. He was not allowed to report who a team would be picking before the pick was announced. The NFL requested that its broadcast partners not reveal picks before they were formally announced. And ESPN, the bastion of sports journalism, obliged.
This is preposterous.
It's preposterous for the NFL to request that journalists alter the way they do their jobs, and its preposterous that ESPN so willingly kowtowed to this. Making this decision even worse is ESPN's rationale - fans don't having their picks spoiled.
A journalists' job is not to give the public "what they want." It's not to keep a viewers' experience dramatic and spoiler free. It's to report news. Who a team is drafting is news. Not reporting that to preserve the fans' experience is a dereliction of duty, and to do so because a league asks you to is close to journalistic misconduct.
Look, reporting a draft pick before it's formally announced is not really a valuable scoop. It's a scoop that lasts for seconds before the pick is official. But the point here is not the value of the scoop. The point is the NFL should not be telling reporters how to do their jobs, what news they can report or when they can report. And under no circumstance should an alleged journalism organization accept those limits in the name of ratings and profits.
ESPN embarrassed itself with this decision.