Careless editorial decisions forced ESPN to make changes in order to placate a sponsor

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Wendy’s definitely knows where the beef is, and how to properly squeeze it.

Patrick Redford of Deadspin.com outlines the manner in which Wendy’s threatened to pull advertising dollars from ESPN after publication of a story in which Bills linebacker Preston Brown attributed his improved performance in 2017 to an improved diet. The diet improved when he stopped eating at Wendy’s.

“It wasn’t [healthy]. It’s not good,” Brown said told Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. “[Now] I’m eating salads and greens, all the fruit and vegetable stuff I should have been eating instead of stopping by a drive-thru.”

While the story itself, along with the reference to Wendy’s, still lives on the ESPN.com servers, the headline was changed from “How avoiding Wendy’s helped Preston Brown become NFL’s leading tackler” to “How a diet helped turn Preston Brown into NFL’s leading tackler.”

As noted by Redford, ESPN also deleted social-media posts promoting the article with this message: “The key to becoming the NFL’s leading tackler? Don’t eat Wendy’s.”

The changes came, per Redford, in response to pressure from Wendy’s. ESPN officially attributed the revisions to “simple editing,” explaining “Brown cites multiple reasons he lost weight in the article, and after it posted, an editor read it and thought singling out a single reason didn’t accurately represent the reporting.”

It would have been useful if the editor (or the writer) had come to the conclusion before publishing the story, eliminating the need for Wendy’s to complain and for ESPN.com to clumsily put the ketchup back in that thing that squirts it into those small white paper cups. Indeed, Brown mentioned Wendy’s only because Wendy’s was the fast-food restaurant close to the team’s practice facility that he happened to frequent. It could have been any of them — McDonald’s, Arby’s, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and crap now I’m hungry.

Fast food is what it is. Everyone knows it. It doesn’t stop millions of people from enjoying it, even when they know they shouldn’t. Everyone also knows that elite athletes have far greater incentive to avoid fast-food restaurants, casual-dining establishments, convenience-store burritos, and any of the many other things that non-elite athletes routinely consume, either because it’s easy, it’s cheap, it tastes good, or any combination of the three.

So, basically, this is less about Wendy’s and more about the folks at ESPN.com not having the sense to realize that: (1) Brown wasn’t making an anti-Wendy’s observation; and (2) setting it up as an anti-Wendy’s observation (at the exclusion of every other place that sells food pro athletes shouldn’t eat) probably wasn’t a great idea, given the company’s business relationship with Wendy’s.

32 responses to “Careless editorial decisions forced ESPN to make changes in order to placate a sponsor

  1. This just in, McDonalds is running for president in 2020…anyone who accuses Mickey D’s of making people fat will be subject to minimum 5 years in the American Goolag (somewhere between Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida). Why is the US now the hotbed for corporate communism?

  2. Lost a ton of weight a few years ago. Diet included Wendy’s salads, grilled chicken sandwich, minus the bun, and Diet Coke.

  3. As a close friend of the organization I have say, I realized that this was the case for a long time now. This has been overdue for quite a while and I cannot stress the importance that this becomes public knowledge. In fact, nothing has been more important than this very thing since the whole Mike Francesa – Jason Kelce drama of two thousand and eighteen which was about a week after it became public knowledge that Lane Johnson uses performance enhancing drugs and Jay Ajayi has a vulgar mouth

  4. slaythegumptrump says:
    February 17, 2018 at 3:39 pm
    This just in, McDonalds is running for president in 2020…anyone who accuses Mickey D’s of making people fat will be subject to minimum 5 years in the American Goolag (somewhere between Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida). Why is the US now the hotbed for corporate communism?

    I believe it’d called Blountstown , got a flat tire there I swear I could hear banjos .

  5. If people actually knew what was in fast food, they’d never eat it again.

    Not true at all. When I was in the military, we had an officer give a lecture on healthy eating, and one of the things he said was “if you knew what was in hot dogs you would never eat one”. Since that time, and knowing exactly what goes in them, I have enjoyed them many times, savoring the delicious chicken lips, pink slurry and sodium nitrates to the fullest!

  6. Maybe it wasn’t carelessness. Maybe for once it was the right thing for ESPN to do. Maybe PFT should think about their viewpoint on this.

    Alot of why Fake news is Fake news is because advertisers (current or prospective) shouldn’t influence news.

    In this case, the news was that Preston Browns diet including Wendy’s and other fast food put his body at a disadvantage in the NFL and that he feels eating right contributed to his success this season.

    That doesn’t mean Wendy’s or anyone else has to sit there and take it. But it means maybe ESPN and others should bite the bullet once in the while for integrity’s sake. Their business should not hinge on an occasional sponsor or two.

    It’s not like there isn’t an obesity epidemic in America. Professional sports players highlighting the impacts of better eating is a positive example for a publications readers. This shouldn’t be hidden or altered.

    Then all ESPN did, in reality, is change doing something right into doing something wrong and still has to live with a pissed off sponsor.

    The one time they get something right… they backtrack to make it wrong.

  7. No wonder ESPN is in the tank. They need to hire people with brains who know what they are doing. The mentioning of a sponsors name should “NEVER” have happened in what is obviously a negative piece for Wendy’s. ESPN cannot do anything right and seem to shoot themselves in the foot, no matter what!

  8. I’d say Wendy’s should dump them for not being smart enough to know those headlines would insult their sponcer but how often do their articles require serious proof reading.

  9. ESPN has no shame and most of the time they’re pretty unconcerned with actual facts. In the wake of the sexual abuse scandal here at Michigan State they ran an hour long hit piece on the university in which they flat out lied about several things. They went way out of their way to implicate both our football and basketball coaches even though neither one of them had anything to do with it. Their actual quote was that “Tom Izzo is implicated in a conspiracy to cover up a sexual assault”. They came to this conclusion solely based on a quote from the alleged victim that she “assumed” that he knew about it! Are you kidding me? These are the journalistic standards they hold themselves to. Anyone who watches this channel is a moron.

  10. Look at all the posters who who think Florio was attacking ESPN.

    He wasnt.
    He was actually defending them.

    The Deadspin article implied or suggested that ESPN has sacrificed journalistic standards by changing a story to help an advertiser.

    But actually ESPN had cleaned up an incorrect headline that both offended and advertiser and misrepresented the story.

    The journalistic crime of a bad headline is far lesser than the journalistic crime of of misrepresenting the news for money.

  11. “Why is the US now the hotbed for corporate communism?”

    What’s you’re trying to describe is called capitalism, and it’s what you voted for.

  12. ESPN. The K mart/Sears of the sports broadcasting world. Used to be the leader, now just simply irrelevant.

  13. Just goes to show how commercialised the US has become, adverts everywhere and companies going so far out of their way to placate this.

  14. jmc8888 says:
    February 17, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    Maybe it wasn’t carelessness. Maybe for once it was the right thing for ESPN to do. Maybe PFT should think about their viewpoint on this.

    Alot of why Fake news is Fake news is because advertisers (current or prospective) shouldn’t influence news.

    In this case, the news was that Preston Browns diet including Wendy’s and other fast food put his body at a disadvantage in the NFL and that he feels eating right contributed to his success this season.

    That doesn’t mean Wendy’s or anyone else has to sit there and take it. But it means maybe ESPN and others should bite the bullet once in the while for integrity’s sake. Their business should not hinge on an occasional sponsor or two.

    It’s not like there isn’t an obesity epidemic in America. Professional sports players highlighting the impacts of better eating is a positive example for a publications readers. This shouldn’t be hidden or altered.

    Then all ESPN did, in reality, is change doing something right into doing something wrong and still has to live with a pissed off sponsor.

    The one time they get something right… they backtrack to make it wrong.

    —————

    This got negative upvotes? For being absolutely correct in bashing ESPN and PFT? Showing why money makes news fake?

  15. dartwick says:
    February 17, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    Look at all the posters who who think Florio was attacking ESPN.

    He wasnt.
    He was actually defending them.

    The Deadspin article implied or suggested that ESPN has sacrificed journalistic standards by changing a story to help an advertiser.

    But actually ESPN had cleaned up an incorrect headline that both offended and advertiser and misrepresented the story.

    The journalistic crime of a bad headline is far lesser than the journalistic crime of of misrepresenting the news for money.

    ————–

    They downvoted you too? Insane. You have it right my man.

  16. What’s you’re trying to describe is called capitalism, and it’s what you voted for.
    ——–
    Correction. Capitalism operates in a free market. The free market drives capitalism. The market in the United States has not been free in decades. Our market has been set in fixed monopolies since the mid 1990’s. I think the only way we can continue to call it capitalism is if we add the word corrupt before capitalism? The market is not free or consumer driven. The market is driven by political dollars which can also be called….. bribes.

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