Angelo State: My take on Deadspin.com and its impact on sports journalism

Posted: May 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

Tales of an editor meeting a source in a hotel room to exchange stacks of money for voicemails and sexting photos isn’t the first thought someone has when thinking of sports journalism. Watching videos of a brawl inside a Denny’s restaurant or Jell-O wrestling from a bar in Louisiana isn’t typical either. That’s what makes Deadspin.com unique. It’s also a contributing factor to why the sports blog is growing in popularity and how it’s changing the way sports and its culture are covered. Unafraid to deviate from the traditional template the sports media has followed, Deadspin uses humor, drama, sex and foul language to attract a large segment of the sports audience which has embraced the provocative and unapologetic style from an outsider’s point of view. “Online, free of mainstream journalistic norms, bloggers don’t have to be objective or politically correct.” (Bishop, 2004). Deadspin, which launched in 2005, speaks to its audience in a direct manner and gives them an opportunity to participate in a public conversation through threads. The majority of Deadspin’s stories are aggregated links from other forms of media with short accounts from its writers. Other stories posted on the blog come from tipsters, contributing writers and self-produced features. Deadspin’s audience feels entertained, informed and privileged to stories that most media outlets ignore. The blog has developed its narrative on sports culture and found a distinct voice to connect with its audience.

THE TRADITONAL SPORTS TEMPLATE

            Sports journalism can be accurately described as a diversion and a necessity at the same time. The sports media occasionally has to fight off the critics who proclaim sports as the playground while the news of the day is the school itself. We learn from the news and are humored by sports. That is not always true because of the impact of sport in cultures. “Sport itself has survived since ancient times as an integral and universal part of human culture because it represents more than amusement. Sport is a metaphor for the human struggle” (Peltz, pg. 169). Sports from the local, state, national and global level, tells stories of who we are as people. A story about a high school athlete playing through cancer treatments speaks to human resolve. College teams standing and singing in front of their school’s student section after a win speaks to community and pride in institution. Olympic athletes crying on top of a medal stage after winning an event and hearing their national anthem speaks to pride in country and self. Stories of players and coaches traveling to third-world countries to teach the games they play to children speaks to humanitarianism.  

Sports journalists tell these stories everyday. Naturally, not every sports story will be culturally significant. But sports journalist, like all other journalist, are out there everyday prepared to report and analyze. Sports journalism is about reporting on people and the games they play. Take the games away and the personal story is a news feature. Take the people away and there are no games to play and nothing to report on. People are at the heart of any story. Sports journalist have known and used this as long as the medium has been around. They go to games, report the statistics, implications and emotions. The story speaks to fans and gives them a diversion from their normal lives and occasionally inspiration. This is the traditional sports template. Deadspin is a blog altering the template for itself, and perhaps the entire sport journalism world.

CHANGING THE GAME

Brett Favre was everywhere in the media. He was the lead story for ESPN, the target of jokes on late night comedy shows and had articles written about him by countless newspaper and magazine writers. Favre, the National Football League’s all-time winningest quarterback, wasn’t in the media’s spotlight for his on-field performance though. Instead, it was his personal conduct off the field that created the headlines which attracted sports fans and the general public. The athlete had crossed over from sports star to tabloid celebrity. The story, first reported on by Deadspin.com, detailed Favre sending inappropriate text messages to New York Jets’ team reporter, Jenn Sterger, while he was playing for the Jets in 2008. Deadspin editor, A.J. Dauerlio, was told of the text messages by Sterger, but was asked not to publish it. “Given our condition as mortals, communication will always remain a problem of power, ethics, and art” (Peters, 268). After “sitting” on the story for a couple of months, Deadspin made the editorial decision to post the story despite Sterger not giving approval or additional information. “Not trying to dick you over, but, there was no way I was going to sit on it forever, either,” Dauerlio said in a direct message to Sterger that was published in a Deadspin blog post. Another person, who Sterger had shared the text with, sold Deadspin the voicemails and text photo for $12,000. That week, Deadspin.com had 3.2 million people visit the website.

Right or wrong, ethical or unethical, Deadspin.com reaped the benefits of audience attraction from the story. In journalism, where the adage “if it bleeds, it leads” is a fine line sometimes between selling its product and crossing ethical lines, the Website was experiencing a boost from its 600,000 visitors in a typical week. Deadspin.com, a blog which typically pulls its stories and credits its stories from other news outlets, was suddenly the source for even the media elites. ESPN, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and many more all credited Deadspin with the story (partly because they didn’t want the credit). While 600,000 visitors a week is tremendously impressive for almost any Website, to multiply its readership by five times give credence to the adage. “I say this with some reluctance, because I don’t like to think of it as a business deal, but yes, it worked out very well for the site,” said Daulerio in a New York Times article. “I knew if everything played out right for us, there would be lots of traffic and that it would be pretty great for us in the long term as well. I knew that it was something most other media outlets would not touch to begin with, but that people would be interested in reading and seeing. I guess that’s what I think our role is at Deadspin: to do the stories that other people won’t touch.”

LITERATURE REVIEW

Extinct are the days when it took being a writer or editor at a newspaper or a broadcaster at a television station to distribute information to the masses. The Internet has opened up a medium in the form of blogs allowing any individual, group or company to serve in the information distribution role once monopolized by journalist and the companies they worked for. Traditionalist within the journalism culture do not typically hold bloggers in high regard, while some see them as a threat. Bloggers, at least the one’s not affiliated with traditional media outlets, are often characterized by the media as outlying characters living without ethical oversight, lacking creditability and low, or no, standard for accuracy. The connotation of the word, blog, is changing with major players such as Gawker Media grabbing a large portion of information consumption from audiences. “I think in the past year more and more mainstream outlets are recognizing that sports blogs — or any type of blog — can break news, report, and (act as) credible sources on occasion. Hopefully, this is a good thing,” said Daulerio.

Still, blogs are in a public relations battle on a daily basis to prove their merits to the public. The numbers show readers are embracing them and they may be winning that battle. “One of the few online genres making money, sports sites’ revenues are predicted to reach almost $3 billion dollars by 2012, up from $1.5 billion in 2007. In that same time period, advertisers are expected to see a 24 percent increase in revenue from $819 million dollars to $1.95 billion dollars” (Verna, 2008). “While news outlets have long endured a competitive media environment, blogs alter this situation by introducing a widely available arena of political discourse based on an alternative conception from traditional news” (Carlson, 2007).

To reach a mass audience, journalism outsiders were once forced to submit letters to the editor, buy advertising or start word-of-mouth campaigns. That has all changed with the ability to sit in front of a computer and start your own online news outlet where you are your own writer, editor and publisher. Blogs, which started as open threads to comment on Internet items, has seen tremendous growth since the mid-1990s. Most blogs have a very low following but growth has been proven to be limitless. According to blogpulse.com, there are 159 million blogs currently identified by the site. The blogosphere has become more crowded, and there is a natural competition for attention among all types of bloggers. “The more entertaining or sensational a blog’s content, the more “eyeballs” it will capture on a regular basis” (Kuhn, 2007). The sites, unlike a traditional newspaper that is printed in the middle of the night and delivered in the morning, are constantly evolving. They are updated throughout the day and are able to break news or share stories from other sites. They are also able to put their own fingerprints on subjects. Luo (2002) found that Internet users who perceived a site as entertaining and informative showed a more positive attitude toward the website, which led to more frequent visits to the site and higher satisfaction ratings for the experience. This form of interaction is one that was lacking with traditional media and has created a different world of user involvement in information.

Blogs can be personal like a diary of daily happenings, genre driven like Deadspin.com in sports and companies can incorporate blogging into their public relation and advertising strategies. People use commerce sites to buy athletic merchandise, gambling sites to place online wagers, team or league sites to check statistics, transactions and schedules. Content is where blogs fit into the sports world. “The opportunity to be involved in real (or perceived) two-way communication through chatting, blogging, and online polls is at the heart of perceived interactivity, and seizing these opportunities affords the online user companionship and interaction with like-minded (or at least – interested) individuals similar to face-to-face encounters (Online Sports fans)” (Klimmt, Vorderer, 2003). A blog can be as small as one person posting and one person reading it, to bloggers setting up newsrooms, selling advertising and making millions of dollars. The Huffington Post, a political blog started in 2005, was recently sold to AOL for $315 million. Modern blogs are full of writers and editors who are skilled journalist who have left the traditional media to join blogs. Still, blogger Jacob Kaufman says there resides the thought in some people’s minds that, “The function of the average blog would seem to be to allow fourteen year old girls to inflict terrible poetry on the Internet.” (Kuhn, 2007). Weblogs are written and edited in similar fashion to the way newspaper writers have traditionally transferred information to their audience. Journalist gather, decipher, craft and distribute. Successful bloggers attract their audiences through routinely making posts to their sites that are informative, creative and entertaining. Just as newspaper readers expect their papers to be at their doorstep in the morning, blog audiences come to expect new postings throughout the day. If the newspaper stops arriving or blogs are not routinely updated, the consumer, especially in today’s world with so many alternative options, will typically cut their subscription and quit frequenting to the blog site. 

Journalist, by definition, collects and disseminates information about current events, people, trends, and issues. Who gets to call themselves a journalist depends on who you are and what your standards for the word are. Some believe you need training, a degree, ethical standards and experience to call yourself a journalist. One of the major issues journalists have had with blogging from the beginning has been the thought that bloggers are actors in a craft. Journalist, in the traditional sense of the word, have taken their profession seriously and held others to a high standard. Sensationalism is nothing new in the media and has always been an issue that has marred an entire industry. It violates notions of social decency; it displaces socially significant stories; and it is seen as a new-sprung drift into excessiveness (Grabe, Barnett, 2001). Sensationalism is often criticized by the public, but it is clear through “hits” online and ratings on television, that although it may be deemed inappropriate in public, audiences flock to stories which Grabe writes “amuses, titillates, and entertains”. Media critics seem both skeptical and concerned about the news viewers’ ability to distinguish between “proper” and sensational journalism (Bernstein, 1992)

Others are not as stringent and believe anyone who writes something can call themselves a journalist. “Those who practice honorable forms of narrative and observe the ethical precepts of the tribe are deemed journalist. Those who traffic in narratives considered renegade, deficient, or false are not” (Oates, Pauly, 2008). Journalist have long held the power in the media for news. They have had the manpower and the credentials to cover a wide variety of material. A blogger is limited in this sense because of financial restraints and the lack of people working. Bloggers are in a powerful position of not having restraints though. While media members have many checks-and-balances from multiple editors and publishers, a blogger is usually on their own without editorial judgment. This freedom also enables them to become watchdogs of the traditional media without fear of community. “Bloggers are in a unique position to provide an independent voice and serve as a check on the press” (Docter, 2010, pg. 598).

Deadspin’s effect and uses

Consumers simply wanting statistics can bookmark mlb.com, nfl.com and nba.com. People wanting breaking reports of signings, trades and injury reports will gravitate to espn.com, sportsillustrated.com and foxsports.com. Others who want to follow the saga of Brett Favre possibly texting pictures of his penis to a female reporter, read about New York Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan’s foot-fetish or see a video of a youth soccer player punching an opponent can turn to Deadspin.com. Why the site has become popular can be theorized by using the disposition theory and user and gratifications theory. “Communication theories tell us that people enjoy media as governed by disposition theory and that they choose media according to uses and gratification processes” (De Carlo, 2009). The theory of uses and gratifications attempts to explain how individuals make media choices based on what they want to get out of the media. Uses and gratification utilizes needs from: cognitive, affective, personal integrative, social integrative and tension free. Cognitive needs gives users knowledge and information, while affective needs give the audience emotional pleasures. Deadspin.com is a mix of cognitive and affective. The site, which overwhelming pulls and attributes its stories from other websites, gives a unique spin to them often using sarcasm and humor to give an alternative twist to the sports journalism landscape. While espn.com’s homepage has updated stories on games going on in a night, Deadspin.com’s homepage will have a story about a drunken fan getting into a fight at a youth hockey game. ESPN would not touch a story like that, but Deadspin.com has carved out its niche as a sports website which is unafraid to pull any punches. Blumler and Katz, who developed the theory in 1974, agreed that media users seek out media sources to fulfill their need.

In the case of Deadspin.com, the need is humor, drama and stories which are not typically reported on by the mainstream sports media outlets. Deadspin.com users do not want a stat-filled story or even one that is about a game. Users gravitate to the website and are increasing becoming part of the site. Deadspin.com publishes user-generated content such as overzealous softball players who send apologetic e-mails their teams for behaviors. Disposition of humor in their articles causes entertainment and brings sports fans to the site to get away from other sites that are more traditional.  

Disposition theory says that entertainment users attach an emotion to various characters within a narrative, but this has been expanded to sports, news, and crime (Raney, 2003). Deadspin.com facilitates this narrative in a unique way that other websites do not. It goes after the big names like LeBron James and even fellow media outlets such as ESPN. The site prides itself as being an outsider and watchdog in sports journalism and has attracted its audience by doing so. Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has felt the negative effects of the disposition theory through Deadspin.com. The site has vilified Snyder consistently through posting a link from the Washington City Paper where the weekly paper published an unflattering story containing 61 examples of decisions and results while the team has been owned by Snyder. Deadspin leads each link to the story with, “Here’s your daily link to Dave McKenna’s brilliant “Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder,” which we’ll be posting until [Daniel] Snyder’s dumbass libel suit goes straight to Hell, where it belongs.” A story originally published in the WCP on November 19, 2010, “The Cranky Redskin’s Fan’s Guide to Dan Synder; An encyclopedia of the owners many failings” gives the audience a place to read about negative storylines about the owner and the Washington Redskins’ NFL franchise since his purchase of the team. Snyder has sued the Washington City Paper for libel after its posting of the negative story. “I also hope that people understand why sometimes, especially in the age of the Internet, when an unretracted lie can live forever, you have to draw the line. I honor vigorous free expression in the media. But even a public figure can sue for defamation when a tabloid paper publishes a harmful assertion of a fact, not an opinion, that it knows to be false or recklessly disregards the truth,” Snyder wrote in an article published by the Washington Post. “Simply put, this lawsuit is about the truth — and the need to correct the record, even when you are a public figure, when your character and integrity are falsely and recklessly attacked.”

 Deadspin.com, which has no affiliation with the WCP, has taken on the cause of helping the paper out by linking the story on a daily basis and even linking to a Website that has been set up to help with legal defense. Snyder’s photo on Deadspin.com has had devil horns drawn on it along with a unibrow and goatee. Deadspin writer Tommy Craggs lashes into Snyder’s open letter in a blog response, including chastising the Washington Post by calling it a bullshit emporium.

Affective disposition theory tells us that media users make moral judgments about characters to increase enjoyment. If this theory holds up in this case, Deadspin.com is capitalizing on this by giving its readers the story and opening up discussion through threads and constant reminders. Not only did Deadspin.com choose to highlight and link the WCP story with a single posting, it has continued to post the link for its audience on a daily basis. The audience, which has commented regularly on its own, has made a moral judgment about Snyder and the Washington City Paper. Clearly, Deadspin.com is taking WCP’s side in the case, and a study of the comments show a majority of those responding in open threads have made the judgment that Snyder is in the wrong for suing the weekly paper over an article. Readers who continually respond to the links on Deadspin.com are experiencing the increased level of emotional arousal, in this case anger and the disposition of drama, are enjoying having the opportunity to express their views of an owner. In the case of bad guys receiving their deserved bad outcome, a mechanism that is called counterempathy takes place. “Based on the moral justification of the bad outcome, the viewers or readers experience positive emotions from witnessing the actually negative outcome” (Klimmt and Vorderer, 2003). The narrative of Snyder versus the Washington City Paper has created two characters that Deadspin.com has facilitated dispositions for. In simple terms, it has made Snyder into the bad guy and the Washington City Paper into the good guy. Disposition-based theories contend that media enjoyment starts with and is driven by the viewer’s feelings about the character (Raney, 2003). While its entire audience may not be overwhelmed with reaction toward Synder, Deadspin.com through affective disposition has created an environment where he is turned into a villain readers have developed a negative disposition for on a national level. Before blogs and the Internet, this story could have remained a locally-intense narrative. Instead, with Deadspin.com’s national audience capabilities and it setting its sights on Snyder, the story has gained an exponential amount of attention it otherwise would not have. 

Bloggers versus Journalist

The following is the Journalist’s Creed which was written by the first dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, Walter Williams in 1906.

I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one’s own pocketbook is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another’s instructions or another’s dividends.

Under the headline, “Minimize Harm” the Society of Professional Journalist has adopted suggested rules to follow such as; show compassion to those who may be affected adversely by news coverage, show good taste and avoid pandering to lurid curiosity among other topics to consider while practicing journalism. It’s safe to say that Deadspin.com doesn’t subscribe to SPJ’s code of ethics or feel it serves its readership to follow them. The blog has become a source of information in the same way as newspapers and television, but is delivering its stories in a way that makes many SPJ devotees sick. Nick Denton, who manages Gawker Media which currently owns Deadspin.com, sent an e-mail imploring staff to act less like the traditional media. His e-mail correspondence goes against much of SPJ’s ethically concerns. “Let’s check to see whether the associated claim is true,” he said. “But we should publish anyway, making clear what we know to true and what remains up in the air… There’s no way we’re going to slow our publishing schedule to that or a ponderous newspaper-style organization, where everything has to go though layers of edit and approval and checking and legal… At some media organizations, you might get rapped for running a premature story. At Gawker Media, you’ll lose way more points for being scooped on a story you hand in your hands.”

This mindset would get many editors fired from news outlets across the country and would almost ensure someone not getting a job in traditional media if they openly expressed similar views during the interview process. Denton and Deadspin.com founder Will Leitch have used it to make their mark and help change the way sports journalism operates. “The Web has obviously changed journalistic standards. It allows us to correct and expand on our stories as we go. A Web news story always a work in progress,” Deaton has said. Leitch left Deadspin in 2008 and currently writes for magazines. He has become critical recently of some of the blogs editorial decisions, including running the photos of Favre.

Deadspin.com is not living in the Wild West though. The blog, which has developed a large audience and thus attention and criticism, is under legal scrutiny with every blog posting it makes. The site is transparent to its readers in telling them every time a lawyer writes them to pull a story (usually it’s mocking the lawyers) and also points out when they are unable to post a story because it would violate the law. There’s no question they push the limits though. When sources inform the blog of a potential affair an athlete is having, it is usually fair game.

Tiger Woods was at one time a Deadspin.com staple. Almost every mistress accusation was reported on including a series of texts with the story headline, “Sexting Tiger Threatened to ‘Slap, Spank, Bite and Fuck Till Mercy’”. The texts, which were allegedly sent from Woods to porn star Joselyn James, were graphic by almost anyone’s standards. Few mainstream media outlets would have reported on the text, let alone run them unfiltered. The “sexting” story was one in a long line of stories involving Woods’ infidelities and created a story many found entertaining, provocative, and informative. Others just thought it was in bad taste. Another ran under the headline, “Tiger now laying 10”. This is an example of Denton’s approach of the Web’s ability to tell an ongoing story without the censorship and processes of traditional media. The story came from a woman who was claiming she had an affair with Woods. With Tiger Woods staying quiet on allegations and with no proof, Deadspin still ran the story. In their own words, stories are works in progress. Sure, Woods was a target for many media outlets, but blogs like Deadspin.com have solidified their place and a new standard of journalism that have lowered the criteria bar that the traditional media had set for story publication. Deadspin.com ended its Tiger Woods story by saying, “That’s it for now.”

 So the checklist begins on ethics and why the readership found the story to be entertaining. Did Deadspin.com show compassion to Woods who would be adversely affected by the story? No. Was it mindful that the story would cause harm or discomfort? Yes. But did it care? No. Did it show good taste and avoid pandering to lurid curiosity. No. “This domain of media psychology (entertainment) promises to be of special interest for presence researchers because, on a conceptual level, feeling presence is obviously closely connected to states of fascination, delight, enjoyment, and astonishment” (Klimmet and Vorderer, 2003). What Deadspin achieved was telling a compelling story, attracting a large audience and not finding any of its employees in jail. A traditional journalist would consider Deadspin’s article on Tiger Woods tabloid.  

The question for many in the media has been discovering the line where their audience will not revolt against them for crossing entertainment and ethical boundaries. Media consumers have a wide array of standards and tastes. Some just want the facts. Others want reporters to dig, go beyond what is told to them and get the real story.

DEADSPIN  VERSUS  ESPN

Every underdog needs its Goliath. For Deadspin, that role and target is clearly ESPN. The two media members are in completely different realms in terms of size and role, but Deadspin is unrelenting in its projection of bravado towards the biggest sports media conglomerate in the world. With its hands in television, magazines and Internet content, ESPN’s power is created by its audience reach, its monetary value and its relationships with professional and collegiate associations. Deadspin, when it first started out, did not have any of that. Even today, with 3.5 million users a month, Deadspin is dwarfed by ESPN. There has long been a role for journalist to be watchdogs for its audience, and Deadspin is expanding that thought to take on ESPN. While Deadspin is an outsider in sports media, ESPN has rights and affiliations with almost all professional sports leagues and the NCAA which runs collegiate sports. Deadspin has made the case that the conflicts of interest cause ESPN to pander to the sports organizations it is in business with. ESPN vice president and director of news Vince Doria recently acknowledged the challenge of its reporters, analysts and columnists. Doria, speaking at a sports journalism ethic conference at the University of Maryland, called his network the “largest conflict of interest known to mankind,” when discussing the financial interests and relationships with leagues to broadcast games while also covering those games as journalists. Deadspin would argue this eliminates all objectivity the network has, while Doria maintains the opinion that the media outlet has the ability to separate itself from its business partners.

One of the tactics Deadspin uses against ESPN is questioning its objectivity and reporting of athletes. Deadspin sees ESPN as being in bed with the sports leagues and the athletes they cover. “Some people would argue that it’s not the reporter’s job to be critical, and ESPN, we know, has certain unspoken constraints that come with reporting on the leagues it does business with. (We would disagree with the former as strenuously as ESPN would disagree with the latter.)” Deadspin writer Emma Carmichael said in a story countering one from ESPN’s Amy K. Nelson featuring baseball player Luke Scott. ESPN’s article on Scott ran under the headline, “Always Locked and Loaded; Luke Scott’s free-speaking ways may draw concern, but not to those who know him”. Deadspin.com took a different angle with the headline, “Luke Scott Is Still A Gun-Humping Birther Survivalist Lunatic, Chickenshit ESPN Story Won’t Say”.

Carmichael’s argument is one Deadspin has used since it started as a small blog pitting itself as an outsider in the sports journalism landscape. “Many blogs function as do the traditional media in providing citizens with the information they need, and in providing a check on the powerful” (Docter, 2010). A large portion of Deadspin’s readership sees the blog as a site of honesty in an ever-growing commercialization of sports and reporting.

The blog constantly mocks ESPN, and has not only set its sights on the coverage of the network, but also on its analysts and broadcasters. Sean Salisbury, a former NFL quarterback turned ESPN analyst, was fired after Deadspin reported on a story involving him and a female at a bar. The relationship of Michelle Beadle, a co-host of ESPN’s Sports Nation, and hockey analyst Matthew Barnaby was published on Deadspin along with baseball analyst Steve Phillips having an affair with a 22-year-old ESPN staffer. Harold Reynolds, a baseball analyst now at the MLB network, was terminated from ESPN in 2006. The day after he was fired, Deadspin ran a story with the only known-fact being that Reynolds had been let go. A line in the story said, “Everyone is hearing sexual harassment.” These stories are not part of the typical sports conversation but are a large part of the Deadspin narrative. The blog uses sports figures like Salisbury and Reynolds as tabloid-style reads for its audience. The Deadspin audience is made up of sports fans who also visit traditional sports media outlets like ESPN. The sports culture narrative is expanded and accepted by the audience because they feel a connection or familiarity. Salisbury’s story would not have resonated with an audience if not for prior knowledge of who he is and his position at ESPN. These stories would have been internal matters at ESPN and would not have been a story at traditional media outlets. Deadspin, being the outsider in this narrative, had no problem in reporting on the stories. It’s a fine line of ethics, but one Deadspin continually chooses to walk.

CONCLUSION

Many of us know a person who seems to be aware of things long before everyone else. They discover musicians before us, have the newest video games and have been playing them for months and news to you is history to them. Deadspin.com is in that role for many people. An aggregate site, the blog could not have existed 15 years ago when the Internet as a news source was in it infancy and search engines were not nearly as powerful. In today’s environment, information is at our fingertips if we have the knowledge of where to explore or the dedication to look. Deadspin has both of those along with the audience base who tips them to where stories are of interest. It develops its own stories based on leads, expands on other media reports and posts user-generated content. Throwing punches and pulling few, the blog is many different things. It’s a self-proclaimed jury, judging the sport culture and holding those who differ from their thoughts accountable. It is the watchdog of the media, exposing stories and those who report the stories. It is entertainment, posting viral videos of basketball trick shots and alligators biting the front end of a cop car. It’s serious in writing stories about rape accusations at Duke University and possible gender discrimination at NCAA institutions and racial discrimination at Brigham Young University. On the same days it blogs on serious topics, it’s also juvenile in posting a bracket of favorite cats and dogs in opposition to the NCAA basketball tournament.

            Deadspin has the ability to alter sports journalism in tone and ethics. The blog, as it grows in popularity, will have an impact on other media outlets by forcing them to report on stories that were once taboo in fear of losing their audience. Future journalist are also growing up reading blogs like Deadspin and are forming new opinions on journalism ethics and discourse. While past generations read stories with tempered and edited voices, Deadspin is among the news producers deciding on shooting flares in the air to grab attention and web traffic. Six years into the blog’s life, Deadspin has grown into a culturally significant role in sports and progressively into society. It’s ability to connect with its audience to make them feel involved and informed are dynamic traits which captivates existing audiences and will bring in new ones. The blog may step outside of the ethical lines, may participate in tabloid and juvenile behaviors and may make its monetary profits off the pain of exploiting people. There’s no doubt Deadspin is a game-changer though. For better or for worse is the question.

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