“Reality” hits ESPN

I knew with Barry Bonds getting close to the Babe’s 714 mark (not to mention encroaching on Hank Aaron’s all-time mark), the media would be in a feeding frenzy.  We should have seen this coming.

Plans are in the works for Bonds to be appearing in a reality-type show on ESPN and will be getting paid to do so.   ESPN will be following Bonds beginning spring training and continuing throughout the year.  

ESPN will air this as part of their entertainment programming not their normal news coverage.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

For the show, a new set of cameras and microphones would follow Bonds on and off the field through the season as he pursues Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron on the all-time home-run list. With 708 homers, he needs seven more to pass Ruth. Aaron’s record is 755, which Bonds is not expected to reach this year.

Granting Bonds his own reality show — an ESPN official prefers to call it a documentary — would give fans a fly-on-the-wall perspective on his personal life, and it would give Bonds a forum to improve his public image in the wake of his well-chronicled ties to the BALCO steroid scandal.

The move by Bonds and ESPN does bring up some concerns of the role of sports journalism.  More from the SF Chronicle:

But that might be up for debate — and a conflict of interest.

“If (ESPN Entertainment) and the production company get news in the course of (their) work, do we use this news (on “SportsCenter”), knowing we paid for that access?” Vince Doria, ESPN’s senior vice president and director of news, asked ESPN.com’s ombudsman, George Solomon, for Solomon’s column about what he called “an impending business relationship between ESPN Original Entertainment and (Bonds).”

Doria added, “We want to be thought of, first and foremost, as objective journalists.”

That and the age-old concern of the news media becoming part of the story.


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