Today in the Sports Business Daily, ESPN responds to Carvalho's column:
On this debate, ESPN comes out ahead -- they are correct that Carvalho does not offer any evidence of unethical behavior.
A few facts: First, it is not uncommon for news organizations to be part of larger companies that have relationships with entities upon which they report. CBS News, for instance, reported about controversy on the show “Two and a Half Men” and CBS Sports reported on the Masters not allowing women members. Like ESPN, CBS has a licensing agreement with the Masters.
These organizations manage this potential or perceived conflict by establishing clear rules and practices. We have a news division that manages our journalism. We have a programming department that acquires rights from leagues and conferences and manages our relationships. Neither interferes with the work of the other. The news group does not dictate our agreements. The programming department does not dictate news coverage. The guest column does not substantiate any ESPN coverage being influenced by business interests.
The financial relationship between ESPN and Poynter is visibly disclosed, though the exact terms are not. The potential for an actual or perceived conflict of interest always exists when there is a financial relationship between organizations. It would be fair to ask Poynter and ESPN to explain how they are addressing this possible concern. But to allege ethical problems goes too far.
After reading through the work done through the ESPN Poynter Review Project, I am impressed. ESPN has dramatically improved upon its previous ombudsman role and should be applauded for its efforts to improve sports journalism.