The Manti Te’o story isn’t the most important thing in the word. But, in my view, the competition between adversarial journalism and access journalism is extremely important. Access journalism dominates at the national level for a variety of reasons — the popularity of splashy, access-driven books like Bob Woodward’s, the decline in revenues at magazines and newspapers as things move on line increases the temptation to run “advertorials” (perhaps this is more accurately described as “prostitutional” journalism), political elites and establishment journalists are part of the same old, rich, boys’ club.
Mock Deadspin at your peril. Hell, compliment Deadspin at your peril. (Just ask Donald Trump.) Look at Deadspin’s signature line: “Sports News without Favor, Access, or Discretion.” That’s funny, yes, but it’s also telling, particularly the part about access. Deadspin could care less about pissing off Notre Dame – or anyone else, for that matter. (Just ask Donald Trump.) Deadspin breaks the story; ESPN, which is all about access, gets the Te’o interview in the story’s wake. Deadspin comes out ahead. Deadspin crushed this story, going from tip to publication in a matter of days. At most newspapers, there would have been meetings. There might even have been soul searching and thumb sucking and earnest conversation. The folks at Deadspin – two reporters, two editors – crashed the reporting and cranked on the writing. Good on them.