Plagiarism Charge Earns a Suspension for ESPN Anchor

by | December 30, 2010 at 10:47 AM | TV News

Will Selva (ESPN)

Will Selva (ESPN)

ESPN suspended one of its anchors after he read some copy lifted from a newspaper column without crediting the writer of the piece.

It may have just been an innocent omission by the anchor, Will Selva of ESPNews, but ESPN suspended him “indefinitely” in a move aimed apparently at deflecting potential criticism that ESPN doesn’t police its airwaves for plagiarism.

Selva was so mortified by his mistake that he issued a very strong apology that addressed viewers, colleagues and the columnist – Kevin Ding of the Orange County (California) Register who’d written a column about the Los Angeles Lakers from which the passage was apparently taken. “I made a horrible mistake and I’m deeply sorry,” Selva said.

ESPN issued a statement too: “This is something we take extremely seriously and we’ve taken appropriate action. We looked into how it happened and found that this very bad mistake was made because he should have been more thorough.”

OK, Selva goofed. But did he deserve a suspension for Christmas? According to one account of the story on a Web site called Fanhouse.com, Selva admitted he was cutting and pasting stories from various newspapers previewing Tuesday night’s Lakers-San Antonio Spurs game and, perhaps under deadline pressure, he simply forgot to rewrite this particular passage in his own words.

In picking up the story from Fanhouse, HuffingtonPost.com reported that it was this columnist named Ding who tattled on Selva. However, the Fanhouse story doesn’t report that, so it’s not clear what role, if any, Ding played in dinging Selva.

And so, a man is losing his livelihood for some little mistake. What do you think: Is this suspension fair? Couldn’t they have just corrected the error on the air and moved on?