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Pi Network

Response to Kelly McBride article on ESPN, Bruce Feldman, and Brooks

July 19, 2011
Published at 2:35 a.m. CDT
Lou Pickney,

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Author's Note: The following is my response to this article written by Kelly McBride and published simultaneously on and on July 18, 2011 as part of the Poynter Review Project. I have included it here on Draft King to ensure that my audience has an opportunity to read the defense of my journalistic integrity and also to ensure that what I have written is properly preserved without any edits that may decide to make to my response. My attempts to bold the word suspension in the article unfortunately did not make it through to the finished product, and I consider this to be my official response of record to McBride's article. -Lou

With all due respect to Kelly McBride and to Poynter, an organization that I respect and which I have primarily had positive dealings with in the past, I strongly disagree with both the characterization of Brooks Melchior (hereafter referred to as Brooks, the name under which he writes for and the way that McBride presented the definition of the word suspension relative to the credibility of Brooks' reporting in her article.

From the Google dictionary, here is the third listed definition of the word suspension: "The official prohibition of someone from holding their usual post or carrying out their usual role for a particular length of time."

Based on the information that Brooks reported, information that McBride herself confirmed as fact in her article ("managers asked him Thursday to not publish anything online, or go on the air"), the definition culled from Google's dictionary fits the discipline meted out to Bruce Feldman by his superiors at ESPN. Feldman was clearly both prohibited from holding his usual post and from carrying out his usual role, meeting both criteria for a definition of the word suspension that requires only one criterion to be in effect for the definition to apply.

McBride claimed in her article that "This is more than just semantics." Yet it seems that McBride contradicted herself on that point when she applied her own narrow definition of the word suspension to, in turn, place a blanket blame on Brooks and "every journalist who repeated the word “suspension” without verifying the facts" and further claim that the group somehow "bears some responsibility" about the alleged inaccuracy. To the contrary, I assert that the report of Feldman facing a suspension was not inaccurate but, to the contrary, spot-on accurate according to the aforementioned Google dictionary definition of the word.

As a journalist who used the word suspension on Twitter and Facebook in describing what Brooks reported, McBride included me, along with many other journalists with much higher profiles than I have, with Brooks in what she described in the article as an "erroneous" report. I take umbrage to that characterization, as however indirect it might be, it calls my journalistic credibility into question.

There are several questions that McBride's article left unanswered. Why was the line in the terse statement issued by ESPN that "Bruce has resumed his assignments" not addressed directly in the article, particularly since that line gives credence to the idea that what Feldman's bosses told him to do fits an accepted definition of the word suspension? Why was described as a sports gossip blog when the site has clearly long-since transitioned away from gossip and morphed into an outlet whose primary focus is the coverage of hard sports news? And why was Brooks' quote from Feldman ("Do not do any work until we tell you to. No tweeting, and no chats.") absent from McBride's article?

This response to McBride's article was simultaneously published in the comment section of McBride's article on and also on on July 19, 2011 at 2:35 a.m. CDT.


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