Monday, September 2, 2013

A Strong Brand Cannot Be Both

For the last 15 months, investigative journalists at ESPN and PBS have been collaborating on the "Frontline" documentary, League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis, which will debut on October 8th.  The documentary investigates the impact concussions are having on the lives of NFL players and the way the league has handled player concussions.   

However, last week, ESPN, who is also partners with NFL, abruptly ended partnership and asked to remove all ESPN logos and production credits from the project.  It's widely reported the National Football League pressured ESPN to back off the project; however, the network is claiming that  misunderstandings over editorial control was the real cause of the break up.

The problem stems from duel directive at ESPN.  The network mission to deliver sports as entertainment and also to broadcast news about it creates these damaging conflicts of interest.  ESPN simply cannot promote the product of its broadcasting partner in good faith and simultaneously expect to be one hundred percent credible in its reporting of this partner.

Occasionally it might work out.  But when the stars don't align, it leads to compromises that jeopardize shipping the very best work possible. 

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