Pros & Cons of ESPN’s Online Reporting

I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing ESPN.com this semester, and these are takeaways on what they do well and how they can improve.

PRO: Consistent posting on social media

  • ESPN has a fairly high presence on Twitter, posting up to three times an hour.
  • They post their own articles, throwbacks, and behind the scenes videos of players.
  • They have over 18 million likes on Facebook and over 33 million followers on Twitter.
Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 2.28.38 PM
Screen shot: Facebook.com/ESPN

CON: Lacking much response on social medias

  • They sometimes ask questions to attempt to stimulate discussion in the comments.
  • However, for an account with over 33 million followers, they should get more than 67 comments, 183 retweets, and 876 likes in three hours.
Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 2.21.37 PM
Source: Screen shot from twitter.com/espn

PRO: Quick game-day coverage

  • ESPN is known to be the place to go for all things sports.
  • They’re guaranteed to have the scores from the basketball game you didn’t have time to watch or the stats on the College Football draft picks.
  • Look no further than the top of their website homepage for scores and upcoming games.
Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 2.50.29 PM
Source: screen shot from espn.com

CON: Needs more than just game-day coverage

  • ESPN.com seems to focus on what is currently happening in the world of sports. It is rare that they cover anything that ventures outside of the current season of each of the sports that they report on.
  • This makes sense, though, when you look at their self-described purpose.
  • As I found in my first Newstrack post:

Their mission statement is “to serve sports fans wherever sports are watched, listened to, discussed, debated, read about or played,” according to their Facebook page.

  • However, I would like to see more articles like the one of LeBron James’ lifetime career in the NBA. This article really tracks a trend over time that displays James’ stance as one of the best players in NBA history in a way that coverage of a single game never could. Unfortunately, this is one of few; I could’t find very many articles with this kind of in-depth research reporting.

PRO: Videos in Reporting

CON: Lacking photo stories

  • Videos may be better at telling stories of a sports game, but photos can tell a lot too.
  • I’d love to see more feature stories that are told through photographs.

Tracking LeBron James with Interactive Data

The ESPN story “Can LeBron James Reach No. 1?” makes excellent use of interactive data. It does not have a date on it, but I estimate it was written in 2017 or 2016. However, the article should simply be updated after each season because James is still an active player, and he has raised three places in the rankings since the article was posted. His career is still extremely relevant to the NBA today.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 2.04.12 PM
Source: screenshot from ESPN.com

The story opens with a short text paragraph and a button labeled “Press to begin.” Kevin Pelton predicts that if James continues to play, he may reach the #1 spot by the time he is 40, in 2024. Pressing the button takes the reader to the bottom of the timeline, and they must scroll up to read more.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 2.04.58 PM
Source: screenshot from ESPN.com

Then, the story starts at the beginning of James’ NBA career—the 2003 draft selection. The timeline moves through the years, with the measure of time being James’ active NBA seasons.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 2.08.16 PM
Source: screenshot from ESPN.com

The first seven seasons list major career milestones and season highlights.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 2.08.41 PM
Source: screenshot from ESPN.com

In his 8th season, James enters the ranks of the top 100 NBA scorers of all-time. The story scrolls through all of the other top 100 scorer, the distances between the players representing the difference in point totals. One thing I would have added to this portion was somehow labeling which players are still active and which have retired.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 2.09.28 PM
Source: screenshot from ESPN.com

This is where James landed on the charts when the article was posted—No. 10. From this point on, Pelton uses “projected points” as an estimate.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 2.10.14 PM
Source: screenshot from ESPN.com

 

This is the place where James currently is ranked. He’s still in his 14th season, so he’s in good shape according to Pelton’s projection.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 2.11.03 PM
Source: screenshot from ESPN.com

Pelton predicts that James would be able to become the #1 highest scorer in NBA history during his 22nd season. It is important to note that the author did not simply draw his conclusion by continuing the chart on a straight line. He took into account the fact that James will likely score fewer points per season as he ages. Much more mathematic calculation went into his prediction.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 2.11.31 PM
Source: screenshot from ESPN.com

The story concludes with the list of top ten scorers. James’s bar also highlights his estimated projected points.

What makes the whole story so visually attractive is its seamlessness. The continual rise of James’ points counter and extension of the “Points per Season” graph allow the reader to experience his career in “real time,” in a way.

ESPN Breaking News Story

I am critiquing this article about Boston Celtics player Gordon Hayward’s ankle injury. I chose this article because I am familiar with the incident and it implements text, video, and Tweets.

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 7.17.34 PM
Source: Screen shot from ESPN.com

ESPN includes the cringeworthy video of Hayward “landing awkwardly on his left leg” after attempting a jump shot. The video tells the story quickly, and the article goes into more depth. Both are important.

The video is essential because breaking news, by nature, must be disseminated quickly.

Author Chris Forsberg gives context in the article itself, such as the fact that this game was Hayward’s first game playing for the Celtics. Additionally, the Celtics lost that game to the Cavaliers by a 3-point  margin.

The video talks about how teammates and others felt bad for Hayward and shows players taking a knee for him, but the video gives actual quotes. For example, Coach Stevens said, “And so it’s a tough deal, but I guess that’s part of it, the risk of injury. I really feel for him.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 7.15.55 PM
Source: Screen shot from ESPN.com

ESPN included a Tweet from Oklahoma City Thunder player Paul George, who expressed his non-secular hopes for Hayward’s recovery.

Invictus Games Photo Story

I found this story on ESPN’s website on the Invictus Games project, a weeklong opportunity for wounded veterans to compete in athletic events in the capital of Romania, Bucharest.

Most of the first photos are of athletes and coaches, accompanied by quotations in the caption. This creates a strong pathological appeal because it instantly puts a face to the voice of the quotation.


For example, in the above photos

Using Video Editing Apps

 

I made two videos using Adobe Clip and Spark Video. Both apps were pretty similar, but I prefer Adobe Clip.

Adobe Clip

  • Easier to upload all clips at once and rearrange
  • Easy to add music
  • Easy to export
  • Similar to typical editing software, so it’s more natural to use

Adobe Spark Video

 

  • Annoying to have to add a new “slide” for every clip
  • Would be better for a word-heavy presentation video
  • Easy to add music
  • Easy to export

Instagram/Snapchat Stories

Instagram and Snapchat are neat because you don’t have to go back and edit your saved and exported story. However, you can’t go back and shorten or rearrange your clips. On Snapchat, you have to take it in chronological order if you want to avoid the annoying white border that shows when you upload a video from your camera roll into the story.

Friday Night in a Boot

I sprained my ankle last weekend, so I have to limit my walking activities. This is what I did on a Friday night when I wasn’t really supposed to leave my apartment.

 

ESPN on Twitter

ESPN uses Twitter very frequently—up to three times an hour.

They post game footage:

Player stats:

And silly videos:

Here, they make the joke that Lil Dicky, a rapper, is the oldest brother of the Ball brothers. They use interviews and clips of the men playing basketball to build upon this parody. It features Lil Dicky crying towards the end when asked about how it feels to not have his “father’s” support of his rapping career.

Any links that they post are typically articles from their own website.

They have earned over 33 million followers since they launched in March 2007. Most posts have photos or videos attached, which help grab and guide the attention of readers.

They don’t tend to interact with commenters. They only have 93 likes (meaning they’ve only like 93 posts), and they only follow 283 accounts.