January 11, 2023
When Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills suffered cardiac arrest on the field during the Monday Night Football broadcast on Jan. 2, it put ESPN at the center of a major breaking news story, as those watching on TV and at Paycor Stadium wondered if Hamlin would be OK. ESPN’s coverage was cautious. It aired few replays, offered very little speculation about Hamlin’s health and only relayed what reporters knew. Scott Van Pelt, who was anchoring SportsCenter, told the Associated Press that speculation was a useless endeavor. The SPJ Code of Ethics says journalists should minimize harm. The pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness. The Code also says journalists should avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do. Additionally, neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.