By Kerry Flynn, CNN Business
Adam Schefter, one of ESPN’s foremost NFL journalists, appears to have broken typical journalistic standards in a recently revealed email he sent in 2011 to Bruce Allen, who was then general manager of the Washington Football Team (WFT).
According to email exchanges filed as evidence in a court case by WFT owner Dan Snyder, in June of this year, Schefter emailed Allen an unpublished draft of an article he had co-wrote on the NFL. Referring to Allen as “Mr. Editor,” he asked for Allen’s comments on the story. It is generally considered an ethical violation to provide sources with the full draft of an unpublished article, even for fact-checking purposes.
“Please let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, tweaked,” Schefter wrote. “Thank you, Mr. Editor, for that and the trust. According to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported on the court documents, this story was published later today.
The court file also included emails sent by Jon Gruden to Allen. The revelation of those emails, as well as others, led Gruden to step down as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders earlier this week. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Gruden used race-insensitive language to describe NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email. On Monday, the New York Times reported on other emails in which Gruden denounced the idea of women being employed as officials on the pitch, criticized a team drafting an openly gay player, and lashed out at tolerance for players protesting police brutality during the national anthem. .
ESPN backed Schefter in a statement shared with CNN Business.
“Without sharing all the details of the reporter process for a story from 10 years ago during the NFL lockdown, we believe nothing is more important to Adam and ESPN than providing fans with the most story. precise, fair and complete, ”the ESPN statement read.
Schefter did not respond to CNN Business’s request for comment. But he brought up the controversy Wednesday morning on “The John Kincade Show” on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.
“I’ve learned for a long time in this field not to discuss the sources, the process or the way stories are made,” Schefter said. “But I would just say that it’s common practice to pass information from sources. And in this particular case, during a labor intensive lockout, it was a complicated subject that was new to understand. I took the very rare step of passing information on to one of the people I was talking to. You know, that was an important story for the fans; a host of others, and that’s the situation.
The apparent violation of journalistic ethics has drawn criticism among journalists, including former ESPN host Jemele Hill.
“I have been a journalist for over 20 years now. I never let a source reread, preview or edit a story, ”Hill tweeted. “The majority of journalists I know have never done that either. It’s a huge journalistic NO-NO. Young journalists, that’s not how we do it. Already.”
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– CNN’s Steve Amalsy contributed reporting.