Lets pretend we’re on Sesame Street for a second and compare two items.
Item 1: A video I co-produced and edited for SI.com/SI’s iPad issue, published January 27, 2011. The video, titled “Aliquippa: The heart of high school football,” (shot gorgeously by Nick Weissman) accompanied S.L. Price’s outstanding story about the importance of football to the community of Aliquippa.
Item 2: An ESPN.com produced video titled “Rick Reilly: Aliquippa, Pennsylvania Football,” published on October 17, 2011.
I understand that journalism is not an exclusive business. Stories are re-told over and over. Newspaper stories often lead to award winning magazine features. I understand a publication or network’s right to take a story and tell it in their style, to add value, to flesh out certain parts, to bring it to their own viewership, etc. etc. ad infinitum.
But in my mind, ethically, a re-told piece must be different than its original. It should be different in its goal, its execution and its feel (which in video, partly, means its look).
With these two videos, this isn’t an “I did it first and want all the credit” issue I have here.
This is a “those lower thirds look eerily similar to the ones I created” issue. This is a “having a cacophony of voices in the background list off all the great Aliquippa players seems kind of like when I had a cacophony of voices in the background list off all the great Aliquippa players” issue.
But mostly, this is a ”isn’t there a strong argument to be made that perhaps ESPN shouldn’t have done this piece in the first place if they couldn’t do it differently?” issue.