Imagine if you, as a sports reporter, had the opportunity to make a large amount of money just by being supportive of a company such as Nike or Reebok. The issue with this is when a reporter is being endorsed by a company and reporting on a topic cross paths, then the public eye starts to question your motives as a reporter. This is what happened to ESPN sports reporter, Erin Andrews.
Back in 2011, Texas Christian University was playing and Andrews noticed that the players were falling in Nike cleats. A couple weeks later, she had signed a deal with Reebok. As a sports fan, this makes sports lovers question whether or not Andrews has credibility.
Journalists are constantly put in ethically challenging positions in which they need to decide what is for the best. Most times situations are this gray area. Typically, there are very few occurrences where journalistic choices are black and white, which can make it difficult for sports viewers to understand and give journalist’s credibility they deserve. Andrews’s situation was in one of those gray areas.
I believe that Erin Andrews was truly doing strict reporting and there was no secret meaning behind this scenario of discussing the Nike cleats although she signed with Reebok shortly after. It’s all about the perception of the audience and what they feel. Andrews ended up just finishing up her contract with Reebok in January 2012 due to ESPN having a new policy on endorsement deals.
After Andrew’s incident had happened, ESPN followed their values they stand for as a company and decided it would be in the public’s best interest to be informed on the endorsement deals of all of the commentators/reporters. This makes it clear-cut for the sports audience and the people can make up their own mind while listening to commentators during games. As a future sports reporter, I think it was very necessary that ESPN made this their plan of action and made it a new rule for the public to know who endorses who.
As a reporter for ESPN, I think it is important for them to think about the contradictions that may occur from what they may say. Issues like Andrews may happen or be misconstrued when being an advocate for a company and reporting on a competitor for a certain product such as cleats. It can be challenging for the audience to give credibility to a reporter when the reporter comes out with bold statements about a company all while being for the competitors company (ex. Reebok and Nike). In essence this may be the issue that reporters and commentators are challenged by when signing a contract for an endorsement deal. If the reporters place bias, like Andrews situation, then she loses because she loses her credibility and the main question is what is it worth? My personal belief is that the amount of money in endorsing is never worth losing your worth as a writer.
Being a world-renowned reporter is way more important, but with people constantly pulling you in two directions, it can be difficult but as your own person you need to follow your own values and morals that were instilled in your heart growing up. It is about what will make you feel good at night and for me personally that is doing the right thing and doing the things my parents taught me. Knowing your ethics can be difficult, especially when two big companies like ESPN and Reebok are whispering in your ear. Moral of this story is to always follow your heart.