ESPN Writer Gets Into Trouble

Journal-isms: Senior journalist leaned too hard on Wikipedia and got into trouble.


ESPN “Addresses” Lapse by Columnist Lynn Hoppes

Lynn Hoppes, senior director/entertainment at ESPN, former newspaper sports editor and former president of Associated Press Sports Editors, has been scolded for “journalistic laziness” after the Deadspin website found that he had been “shall we say, over-reliant on Wikipedia as a research tool,” as Deadspin put it.

ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz told Journal-isms Friday by email, “This obviously fell short of our editorial standards. Even though he used multiple legitimate news sources to gather background information, we should always recite even the most basic facts in an original voice, and source as warranted. That wasn’t the case here. It was an example of journalistic laziness, and we’ve addressed it.”

Hoppes’ transgression was compounded because the items in Wikipedia, the source he used, are authored by citizens who are not always professional or unbiased.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told Washington Post editors and reporters Tuesday, “As a journalist, you should double-source everything,” according to Erik Wemple, writing for the Post. Wales said that journalists have “moved beyond the don’t-use-Wikipedia” phase but said, “When we’re doing our job well, we give you the references to dig deeper,” according to Wemple.

Isaac Rauch wrote Tuesday for Deadspin, “. . . Whether it’s verbatim cut-and-paste jobs or ethically ambiguous paraphrasing, most of Hoppes’s tidbits – and tidbits are the primary medium in which Hoppes works – are pulled uncredited from his subject’s Wikipedia page.” Rauch then listed “the most glaring examples of this practice dating back to May 1.”

Hoppes has been sports editor at the Orlando Sentinel and a radio host at Clear Channel Communications. In 2008, he became the second person of color to become president of the Associated Press Sports Editors. His LinkedIn profile lists him as “In charge of entertainment, video games, music, style/fashion and humor for In charge of all serious commentary on”

Hoppes, who is Asian American, was last in Journal-isms in March, during the height of interest in New York Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin.

In a column for ESPN headlined, “Stop the Linsanity insanity,” Hoppes wrote of Lin, “Please don’t automatically assume that every Asian-American is rooting for him to become a star and help the Knicks make the playoffs.

And don’t automatically assume that every Asian-American is offended by the jokes and comments about Lin.