Sports columnist Jason Whitlock, often accused of taking snipes at ESPN for no other reason than that he doesn't work there, argues in a recent column that the network is a "dictatorship" with more power than the leagues it covers. Whitlock adds that bloggers -- "an army of citizen journalists building followings and eroding our credibility" -- are the only place to get critical coverage of the network.
It's true that ESPN has a great deal of influence, but it's not because the number people who watch it exceeds the number watching SpongeBob reruns on any given night of the week. It's because sports journalists have taken their cues from it. ESPN is the pacesetter for other outlets.
The mainstream media doesn't ignore ESPN, as Whitlock argues. It follows the network very carefully. Bloggers may dish the gossip on the personalities there, but ESPN is far from ignored by the many, many sports journalists who ultimately want the network on their own resumes.