Jeff Pearlman

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Erin Andrews and journalistic standards: A bad match

So Erin Andrews, ESPN’s sideline reporter/resident celebrity, has signed on with Reebok to endorse the company’s new shoe, the ZigTech (whatever the hell that is). On her Twitter profile photo, Andrews actually had the sneaker balanced on her arm (she changed it recently).

As noted in The Oregonian recently, while covering the Rose Bowl game between TCU and Wisconsin, Andrews reported that Texas Christian players were having problems slipping on the  turf because of new Nike kicks they were wearing. She went on to say that TCU did not have backup cleats, blah, blah, blah.

Which rightly led the newspaper to ask the following question: Was Andrews noting this because it was true, or because it would benefit Reebok?

Answer: I don’t know. If I were to guess, I’d say Andrews was just doing her job, and that the players were slipping. However, in media perception is stronger than reality. Like, much stronger. By endorsing a shoe and working for ESPN, Andrews once again puts herself in position to be questioned and, to a certain degree, ridiculed. When she initially defended her professionalism, I was sorta with her. Just because a woman is young and attractive doesn’t mean she isn’t also a fantastic reporter.

However, over the past year or so, Andrews has become a joke; an indictment of sports journalism. To appear on Dancing with the Stars; to endorse a sneaker; to do red carpet appearances—who are you? Who do you want to be? What do you want people to think of you?

There are so many women reporters out there who work hard and kick ass and want to be judged solely on their professionalism and performance. I’ve long been an enormous Michele Tafoya fan; an enormous Robin Roberts fan; an enormous Bonnie Bernstein fan.

Erin Andrews, however, I have no patience for.

Not any more.

PS: And ESPN needs to step up here. I know they love celebrity and hype and all, but, seriously, how about some standards?

  • http://thingsthatarefuckingstupid.wordpress.com/ Keane

    I get how the Reebok-Nike thing could in some way put her integrity into question (on sole the matter of footwear, at least), but why mention the red carpet appearance? How does that, in any way, affect her credibility? Same thing with Dancing With the Stars. I guess it makes her more of a celebrity than a sports journalist, but can’t she be both? Why does she have to fit into the narrow box of sports journalist and only sports journalist?

    Reebok deal? Okay. I can see how that can pose a problem. But how do the red carpet and reality show appearances affect what she reports?

    Jim Nantz is doing the audio work for Tiger Woods’ next golf video game. He’s supposed to cover Woods, not work with him. THAT’S a conflict of interest worth pointing out. Dancing on television or getting dressed up? Not so much.

  • Oh No Romo

    “I’ve long been an enormous Michele Tafoya fan”

    Well, I agree on two of the three reporters, at least.

    Never was much of a fan of Tafoya, but that’s just me

  • Nate

    I don’t think Andrews should be singled out here. Many ESPN (and NFL network) on-air personalities have begun appearing in commercials, and, yes, I think it damages their credibility.

    So does the consistent intrusion of advertising into their on-air programming. I have no problem seeing an e-trade commercial during CBS’ pre-game show, but seeing James Brown interview the e-trade baby to get his thoughts on the upcoming game crosses a line, and renders the rest of the show ridiculous.

  • http://mklubok.blogspot.com Mike

    I always have liked Robin Roberts. She is a true professional and always especially on GMA carried herself with great dignity. This is by no means knocking the other 2 down but raising Robin up.

  • Heath

    The players were slipping all over the place. She was doing her job in accurately saying so. Beyond that, how did it benefit a line of lifestyle oriented shoes she began endorsing for Reebok a couple of weeks later for her to make a comment about football cleats?

    As for Dancing with the Stars, why shouldn’t she have been able to do that?

  • Steve702

    I agree with Pearlman’s overall point that credible journalists should not endorse products. That said, she’s on the sideline asking the coach what went wrong in the 1st half. She’s not exactly Edward R. Murrow. Does Ryan Seacrest’s lucrative toothpaste endorsement deal render him unfit to interview Idol contestants?

    Michelle Tafoya and Robin Roberts are credible reporters. That said, I doubt either has faced as many integrity-threatening opportunities as Andrews.

    Perhaps Bonnie Bernstein’s thoughts on Basketball and Suicide Bombers limited her appeal to advertisers and celebrity dance contests. Maybe it should have also kept her from being cited as an example of professionalism in this post.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ray-hanania/bonnie-bernstein-espn-and_b_109855.html

  • BrookW

    Jeff, do you really believe she cares what you think?

    • Jeff Pearlman

      absolutely not. and she shouldn’t.

  • jmw

    This isn’t really anything new, Howard Cosell did quite a few entertainment type things.
    I would agree she needs to not comment about shoe issues though.

  • Ronner18

    Erin is attractive and I liked her when she first broke in. However, I can’t stand her voice, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. I have to mute the TV when she comes on…I absolutley have a good laugh when she interviews younger players…they are checking her out and not listening to her questions at all.

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