Alabama-LSU Teabagging: Breaking Down ESPN and Deadspin’s Coverage

By Justin Cox – via Huffington Post
The difference between ESPN and Deadspin was put nicely on display during coverage of the now-famous LSU-Alabama teabagging video that went viral after the BCS championship game.

Alabama Teabagger - Deadspin Headline

Deadspin Headline

ESPN didn’t use the word teabagging one time; not even in quotes. They (along with the Associated Press) decided instead to lean heavily on words like “lewd,” and “crude” and “sexual acts.” They did drop the word “genitals” once, but that’s just because it was quoted in the official police report.

Deadspin, on the other hand, saddled “teabagging” in the headline over and over again. They let the verb, “teabagging” or the noun, “teabagger” anchor every single article.

The lede (first sentence) of the main Deadspin story described a man “pressing his testicles on the neck of an unconscious LSU fan.” That line was actually lifted by Deadspin from an article in the Times-Picuyane, but you have to imagine they were excited to excerpt and front-load it.

It’s fun to picture the two newsrooms: The stylebook at ESPN probably has a policy against using “lewd” language like the word “teabag,” while the editors at Gawker Media might even have to hit a teabagging quota. Maybe they get teabagged if they don’t hit it.

OK, now back to ESPN: They turned the sports-media landscape into what it is today, and in doing so, they became a media juggernaut. They’ve also become the corporate establishment — the man.

Deadspin (which feels like something bigger than a normal blog) is still just an attendee at ESPN’s 24-7 sports party. But they’ve cultivated a reputation as the guy who cracks snappy, borderline-offensive jokes and in doing so manages to simultaneously entertain and annoy you. The bottom line is this: You’ll probably pass those racy jokes on down the line, when the time is right.

Translation: You’re more likely to share a story about teabagging than a story about vaguely described “lewd acts.” Not to mention the fact that ESPN didn’t even include the teabagging video, which Deadspin obviously did. (It’s easily searchable on YouTube, and it’s embeded at the bottom of this blog).

Both outlets have a place in the current world, but there’s no way Deadspin (or any other blog) would exist without the powerhouse presence of ESPN.

I’ll leave you with a list of headlines from both publications. You should like Slow Pitch on Facebook for more sports-media coverage.

ESPN (and AP)

Deadspin:

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