The difference between ESPN and Deadspin was put nicely on display during coverage of the now-famous LSU-Alabama teabagging video that went viral after the BCS championship game.
ESPN didn't use the word teabagging one time in their coverage; not even in quotes. They (along with the Associated Press) decided instead to lean heavily on words like "lewd," and "crude" and "sexual acts." They did drop the word "genitals" once, but that's just because it was quoted in the official police report.
Deadspin, on the other hand, saddled "teabagging" in the headline over and over again. They let the verb, "teabagging" or the noun, "teabagger" anchor every single article they wrote. And they wrote many. (They're listed below).
One of the main Deadspin stories described a man "pressing his testicles on the neck of an unconscious LSU fan." That line was actually lifted by Deadspin from an article in the Times-Picuyane, but you have to imagine -- based on the vigor with which they covered the subject -- that they were excited to excerpt and front-load it.
It's fun to picture the two newsrooms: The stylebook at ESPN probably has a policy against using "lewd" language like the word "teabag," while the editors at Gawker Media might even enforce a teabag-coverage quota. Maybe bloggers get teabagged if they don't hit it.
Now back to ESPN: That network turned the sports-media landscape into what it is today, and in doing so, they became a juggernaut. As a result, they've also become the corporate establishment -- the man.
Deadspin (which is much more than your average blog) is still just an attendee at ESPN's 24-7 sports party. But they've cultivated a reputation as the guy at the party who drinks tall boys and cracks borderline-offensive jokes. In doing so, he manages to simultaneously entertain and annoy you. But the bottom line is this: You'll probably pass those racy jokes on down the line later on.
Translation: You're more likely to share a story about teabagging than a story about vaguely described "lewd acts." Not to mention the fact that ESPN didn't even embed the teabagging video, which Deadspin obviously did. (It's easily searchable on YouTube, and it's embeded at the bottom of this blog).
Deadspin has very successfully found its place in the current media landscape, and they know better than anybody that they (and all other sports blogs) would be in a very different place without the powerhouse presence of ESPN.
I'll leave you with a list of headlines from both publications. You should like Slow Pitch on Facebook for more sports-media coverage.
ESPN (and AP)
Follow Justin Cox on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CoxJustin