ESPN Fails Miserably with Joe Paterno Coverage

Last night at around 10:00 PM EST, one of the greatest sports scandals in all of history reached the pinnacle of suspense. John Surma, the Chairman and CEO of U.S. Steel Corp., and the Penn State University Board of Trustees Vice Chairman, announced that legendary coach Joe Paterno had been fired. The press conference, in which Surma fielded questions from reporters, was one of the most compelling sports media events of all time. If you were watching ESPN when the news broke, I’m sure that you were just as disappointed as I was that the “World Wide Leader in Sports” had no video feed from the presser, but only scrambled audio.

After fifteen minutes, ESPN finally picked up the video feed from a local news station. By that point, many viewers had already switched over to CNN, who was televising their live coverage of the press conference. ESPN’s coverage was so lackluster that one of their own reporters, John Buccigross, tweeted during this historical sporting moment, “Great coverage by CNN.” Buccigross later deleted this tweet.

As John Surma fielded angry questions from the media (who seemed more like fans) about the firing of the 84-year-old coach, it was obvious that students were going to riot on the campus of Penn State University. Despite this predictable event, ESPN had no video coverage on campus directly after the Joe Paterno dismissal announcement. Instead, they interviewed Matt Millen, a former Penn State player from the 1970’s via telephone for close to ten minutes.

On the contrary, CNN was capturing tens of thousands of Penn State students bombarding the streets in anger over the firing of their iconic coach. The fact that these Nittany Lion students were rioting over the fact that Joe Paterno did not tell authorities that their defensive coordinator was molesting young children made this chain of events even more compelling. Jason Whitlock from summed up the historical evening with the following statement, “This is white-kid version of black folks celebrating OJ verdict.”

In one of the most monumental evenings in sports in history, ESPN failed miserably with their coverage of the Joe Paterno firing. They missed the video announcement that Joe Paterno was relieved of his duties after 46 years of coaching, they conducted phone interviews with irrelevant guests (Reece Davis), and they missed the initial riots on the campus of Penn State University. The media Mecca in Bristol normally thrives in breaking sports news. Last night CNN beat them at their own game.

Jason Parks is the Owner of The Media Captain, LLC
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